I was in a band once – in fact, I wanted to become a professional musician. Instead I chose to follow in my father’s footsteps, studying physics and chemistry at ETH Zurich. Today, I have many points of contact with ETH personally and through the NZZ. I work with the ETH Foundation, and I am in touch with Joël Mesot, who is a fellow physicist.
One of the problems I see is that ETH is not very active in terms of alumni. In general, I would say people who studied at ETH are highly committed to the university. In contrast to US universities, we get our education financed, and this is a great gift. I see potential and readiness, but you need to orchestrate this. We are very ready to give back to ETH, but we need a structure through which to do so. Personally, I am quite open as to how that engagement happens; it also depends on what the needs are. But I want to be a part of promoting ETH through the ETH Circle. In Switzerland, we need to promote knowledge, and I believe we can do even better in the rankings. This has to do with getting the right professors and research environment, but also creating the context through which to activate alumni.
Becoming a brand is key to achieving this – ETH is not a brand in the way that MIT is, for example, and this is a challenge. The alumni of the past are not present enough. People don’t associate ETH with Einstein and other big names – there is a narrative around this that is missing, and that constitutes poor marketing. The risk of technologists is that they undervalue bringing it to the masses. You need to unite an entire staff behind a common vision in order to create a unified message, which can then be spread in this country and abroad.