You are supporting ETH Week 2021 – why?
I find the concept totally convincing in every respect! The social concern that ETH Week takes as its focus is exactly what has preoccupied me for the past 30 years. In other words, I’m glad I didn’t have to come up with ETH Week myself! (Laughs) For me and my Trilogos Foundation, it’s all about a holistic view of humans. The intellect is important, yes, but also the heart and emotions, morals and ethics – all of these make up a person. For example, to be a good entrepreneur in a broad sense, intelligence is not enough; you also need to develop your emotional core. Or another example: to be an innovative researcher and inventor, you also need creativity and intuition. I believe that this is also what young students want deep down. They want to consciously develop their individual human potential as well as their social competence – not just to exist in digital worlds. I’ve read the impact reports about ETH Week, looked at the photos and videos: you can feel these young people’s enthusiasm!
What is your personal connection with ETH Zurich?
Relatives, friends and acquaintances of mine attended ETH, including my dear godfather, who was already engaging me in philosophy when I was still a child. He did his engineering degree at ETH. I value ETH as our most important university: we have to encourage and challenge our young people! As an educator, I am fascinated by the new forms of student collaboration that ETH is aiming to try out with this year’s “Hub Edition” of ETH Week.
What is behind your desire to support young people in developing into individuals with creative and critical minds?
I worked as a teacher for many years. I went to the evangelical teacher training college Muristalden, where I was part of the first cohort that included women.
I took up my first post as a teacher in Belp, and after that, I worked at a private school in Zurich. I was a schoolteacher through and through, and yet I noticed that adult education was where I belonged. In my first job, I had a lot of pupils who came from disadvantaged backgrounds. Later, I was teaching very privileged children, but some of them were put under severe pressure. In both of these very different work contexts, I found the same thing: that when there were problems, I actually had to start with the parents! And so I developed a method for adult education, personal development and awareness-raising. This is what led me to my Trilogos method and to my independent practice. My involvement in ETH Week brings me full circle, to some extent – it leads me back to young people.
How did you become a philanthropist?
For many years, I lived for my work with Trilogos, which I founded in 1990. After I turned 50, I found that in some ways I was “done with my image”. I didn’t feel the same drive in myself any more. At the same time, I was incredibly grateful for the trust people had put in me and for the many years of success I had enjoyed with my training courses and consultancy, mainly in the German-speaking world. So in 2012, I established a foundation to give something back to society. And that’s also what my current commitment to ETH Week has grown from – I’m very much looking forward to getting a personal insight in the coming week!