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Yves Guntern joined the alternative investment firm Millennium in 2017 as CEO for Switzerland. He began his career in 2000 with MSCI before moving to the Alternative Investments team at UBP in 2003. From 2007 to 2009, Yves worked for a Russian investment bank before re-joining UBP in 2010, where he became Business Head of Alternative Investments. Millennium Management is a global investment management firm founded in 1989 that manages approximately USD 40 billion in assets with more than 3,000 employees working across offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. As CEO of MCP Switzerland, Yves is in charge of Millennium’s portfolio management activities in Geneva, Pfaeffikon, Zug and Zurich. Yves Guntern is also a member of the Alternative Investment Council (AIC), a SFAMA expert group on alternative investments.
Yves Guntern, how do you define success?
Unlike in sports, where success is measured by the outcome of a competition, I don’t see success in business as being so black and white. You may overcome challenges and reach important goals on the path to success, but true success can only be achieved over time. It’s the ability to adapt to a constantly changing environment, where technology is always evolving, and where it’s necessary to keep both investors and employees happy, that demonstrates true success.
Have you ever regretted a career decision?
I thought I had, but then I was proved wrong. At one point in my career, I made the decision to leave a comfortable, interesting position in a great bank for an exciting new opportunity further off the beaten track – in a Russian bank. Although it was an incredible experience, in hindsight I sometimes questioned that decision. I later learned that this experience had a positive influence in obtaining the role I have today. I have no regrets as each decision I’ve made has added to my experience.
What do you enjoy most in your job and what least?
The people and the fast-paced environment are what I enjoy the most. Our industry attracts highly talented individuals, and I consider myself lucky to be in a position to interact with many of these interesting people. Technology, data and science are key to our business, but great ideas come from great minds. The success of Millennium is very much linked to its ability to gather together so many talented people and lead them on the same path in a collaborative way. We work in a highly demanding and competitive environment, but we manage to maintain an excellent atmosphere, fuelling our motivation. Being part of a business where change is the norm, not the exception, energises me every day. What I enjoy least of all is that the output of what we do is somewhat intangible, and my kids still have a hard time understanding what I do on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are many different ways outside of work to connect and contribute in a more concrete way.
How important are social media to you?
There are a lot of positives about social media, and I use them daily, whether it be news channels, networking websites or the infinite sources of information on the Internet. I like the idea that social media access in developed countries transcends cultures, borders, social classes and generations. I have social media accounts, not so much because I’m interested in all of the content, but rather because I enjoy following the evolution of technology and how it transforms our society. Of course, I am also concerned about the dangers of addiction, cyberbullying and disinformation – meaning fake news. My wife, my kids and I have recently decided to consider these risks as a family matter, so that our kids also have the incentive to tell us about what dangers or problems they hear of. This of course gives them the right to make comments should I grab my phone to answer an e-mail during dinner!
What book are you reading now?
I have the just finished “L’Homme de Constantinople” – a novel based on the true story of Calouste Gulbenkian, who was an oil tycoon and the richest man in the world during the middle of the last century. The author, JR Dos Santos, is mostly known for his book “The Einstein Enigma”; he writes novels built around scientific and historical facts. I find it a very entertaining way to learn more about fascinating topics. I also regularly read biographies or personal development topics on apps that summarise books into 20-minute reads – for example Koober – a good use of time while waiting to board a flight.
What do you do on a trip from Geneva to Zurich?
I always travel by train within Switzerland, and usually in the early mornings or evenings. There’s less distraction than in the office, and I find it a great opportunity to work on things that I’d normally have less time to do, such as presentations, writing reports and organising my inbox. I often find the three-hour trip to be too short!
What are you thankful for?
I’m thankful for the education that I’ve received. It has given me the tools to grow with a sense of freedom and responsibility. I’m thankful for the support I receive from my wife and all the work she does in addition to her professional responsibilities, so that I can fully concentrate on my job.
And finally, I’m thankful that my family and I are in good health.
If you could choose any country, where would you like to live and why?
It’s hard to beat the quality of life that we have here in Switzerland, but if you know of any other countries offering Swiss levels of stability and democracy, high mountains, a Mediterranean climate and Italian food as part of their national cuisine, I’d be interested to hear about them!