Katrin Volery about her role as CHRO

As of March 1, 2021, Katrin Volery will be Chief Human Resources Manager and thus a member of the Board of Management at Meraxis. About her new role and the challenges and opportunities of HR in culture and transformation processes.

1 March, 2021.

Katrin, you have an impressive career behind you. You have gained HR experience in various positions at international companies. Solenis, Syngenta Tamedia and Mercuria Trading are just a few of them. At the age of 53, you have returned to your roots in the tranquil city of Bern - and after just 5 months at Meraxis, you have been appointed to the Board of Management - an impressive career. What does this step mean for you personally?

Katrin Volery: I am pleased that the function of HR but also my role as such has received this recognition. With this step, Meraxis is underlining the importance of the function and giving weight to the role of Chief Human Resources Officer. Personally, I am of course also very happy about this decision. To be appointed to such a weighty function after just 5 months surprised me myself. At the same time, I'm looking forward to what's to come.

Meraxis is still a young company. Even though the direction is already very clear, some things are still in the making, especially internally. For example, our cultural development process is still in progress. Where do you see your focus in HR work at Meraxis in the coming years?

Katrin Volery: It takes ages to build up a culture. Culture must be exemplified and lived. Top down and bottom up. The topic is managed from HR. We work closely with internal communications, but cannot make this fly alone. Culture must be shared by all departments. "One Meraxis", which is the title of our culture program, or diversity & inclusion, are just a part of the topics we are dealing with and which have an impact on the culture at Meraxis. All of this will be part of my work, in addition to "traditional" HR. Fortunately, I can build on a well-established team. That puts me in a positive frame of mind.

Switzerland celebrated 50 years of women's suffrage at the beginning of February. For some a triumph, for others, a late concession to the zeitgeist. There is currently a worldwide debate about quotas for women on management boards. Where do you stand on this?

Katrin Volery: I am a supporter of equal pay, i.e. equal pay for equal work. When it comes to women's quotas and thus a balanced gender ratio on boards of directors, I think we as a society are still miles away from that. For me, the focus is on diversity and inclusion. And these are not issues that are just about women. My motto is "Might the best candidate get the job!".

Megatrends such as digitalization, increasing climate and environmental awareness, and also the effects of the pandemic are presenting many companies with immense challenges. Meraxis is not immune to this either. What role does HR play in this from your perspective?

Katrin Volery: As HR, we are part of the team managing the pandemic, which has been coordinating all issues related to Corona here since the beginning of last year. In addition to ensuring the ability to deliver to our customers, this also includes ensuring the health of all employees. As a company, we are faced with the challenge of doing "business as usual" and clearly having to adhere to rules and regulations, but also applying them with the necessary prudence. For us, this inevitably leads to the question of what our working environment will look like with and after Corona. For example, based on last year's positive experience, we have created the possibility for all employees in Switzerland to work from home in the future. 

But other issues are also presenting us and our society with changes. Thanks to Covid, nature also seems to be recovering a little. The climate crisis has been the top issue in recent years, and we as employers need to position ourselves clearly in terms of sustainability if we want to continue attracting talent in the future. Gen Z has different demands than their predecessors, they openly ask questions, criticize and place demand. As an organization, we need to prepare for this and ask ourselves what makes us a good employer. This includes a clear positioning on sustainability issues, but also diversity, opportunities for development instead of rigid structures, and an open culture.

When you think back to the beginning of your professional career, what piece of advice would you give to your 25-year-old self from today's perspective?

Katrin Volery: Be a little more calm and patient. But you will go your way.

Thank you, Katrin!

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