[Dr. Chris Oakley's home page]

The Swiss

There is a myth, started by the French and Germans, no doubt, that the Switzerland consists of boring, narrow-minded, paranoid people, so I would like to say a few words in their defence. A lot of the people who propagate this myth do not actually know any Swiss. What I am going to say here is based only on personal experience.

The Swiss are a delightful people. They have all the German thoroughness and competence with none of their arrogance. They also are very honest, and very helpful. The only problem I ever found was that they lack self-confidence. Unless the task in hand is making chocolate or watches, they always assume that there is a foreigner who can do it better. Well, there isn't. So I would say to them: you are just as good as foreigners, and probably will end up better because, not being arrogant, you will adapt.

I had two-and-a-half very fruitful years at UBS, which was only possible because the predominantly-Swiss management were open to new ideas and not hidebound by politics or tradition. With very few exceptions, my Swiss colleagues were friendly, competent and a pleasure to work with. As for the notion that the Swiss do not have a sense of humour, well, I had just as many laughs, if not more, with the Swiss than with other nationalities.