60-second interview with Felicity Keller

Felicity Keller, 26/4/2017

Felicity Keller TEP is managing director of J. Stern & Co (Switzerland) AG.

How and why did you get involved with STEP?

STEP was a relatively new organisation in Switzerland when I was working in Geneva, and so, on a whim, I went along to chat with Richard Pease to see whether he thought it was worth my joining. Clearly he did an excellent job of persuading me!

What benefits has it brought you personally, or in your business?

From a career perspective, it has certainly been of help to be a Full Member and a TEP. It has provided an additional professional qualification of value which is recognisable worldwide. I’ve also met some very nice people indeed, some of whom I can now call friends.

You were recently given a Founder’s Award. What does this mean to you?

I am enormously honoured and delighted. When taking up a volunteer position, it is essential to be motivated by something beyond self-advancement and self-gain. We are there to represent member interests, and this should not be forgotten.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

Education is the key and core offering. Striving to maintain those standards and remain relevant in a complex environment is essential. The sense of community is also very important and has brought many professionals together who may not otherwise have met.

What would you say to other members who are thinking of getting more involved with STEP?

Don’t get involved just to put it on your CV, or promote your business. You need a wider sense of purpose, and a real desire to improve and maintain good standards for others. These are the essentials, and anything else is just an additional benefit

What do you feel are the main challenges facing your branch or region at the moment?

Our main challenges are not specifically regional or local, but those that many are experiencing due to the economic strictures placed on employees and businesses worldwide. Many companies no longer wish to subsidise their employees’ professional memberships or CPD requirements.

As an organisation we need to have an offering that’s relevant to people’s everyday employment, enabling them to better perform in their professional sphere, and showing that we are still good value and worth investing in. Everyone is facing fewer opportunities and a lot of competition for members’ time and resources.

How are you planning to deal with them?

We try and offer a choice of event that people can relate to and which is appropriate for their everyday professional existence. The Swiss and Liechtenstein Inaugural Alpine Conference in Interlaken in January was an opportunity for Swiss professionals, and those outside interested in Swiss affairs to see what is new, and to debate issues that are currently causing uncertainty.

Which social media channels do you use and why?

Social media has huge value and has transformed the way we communicate information and promote ourselves and our businesses. However, I do feel we spend a lot of time ‘communicating’ without really listening, and that a lot of context and nuance is lost when this form of communication takes over from face to face contact. My own use is limited to Linked In.

Felicity Keller TEP is managing director of J. Stern & Co (Switzerland) AG. She is Chair of STEP Verein, Co-Chair of the Swiss and Liechtenstein STEP Federation, Treasurer of the Zurich Centre Committee, and Member of STEP’s Professional Development Committee