For the past ten years, we have conducted our “Transforming People and Companies” CEO-study in partnership with the Executive School of the University of St.Gallen (HSG). During this study, we ask CEOs about their convictions, values and direct experiences with transformation processes. The goal of this CEO-study is to gain an integrated view of fundamental perspectives and factors for success and to offer these to the public as a valuable guide. To date, we have conducted five editions of the study, surveying well over 600 CEOs and members of top leadership bodies. These leaders have shared with us their experiences with transformation processes, offering helpful insights on the topic of changing the business of their companies. For this tenth-anniversary edition, 15 CEOs have met with us for one-on-one interviews in which they offer in-depth insights into current transformations and the challenges and opportunities that these bring with them.

In total, 101 respondents took part in the online survey (data collection from May 2019 to July 2019). The respondents were CEOs of the highest-earning companies in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In addition, 15 CEOs were personally interviewed by a partner or principal from Manres AG. Details of the interviewed persons can be found here:

Nine out of ten of the CEOs we surveyed were men. Five percent were women, and another five percent did not specify their gender. Four female and eleven male CEOs took part in the one-on-one interviews. All of the CEOs we surveyed were the head of a company in Switzerland (76%), Germany (22%) or Austria (2%). The Swiss companies employ 3,073 people on average; the German companies, 3,805, and the Austrians, 1,500. The average company size for all the countries combined was 3,087 employees. The average age of the participants was 53 years, with ages ranging from 32 to 79. The participants have been in their leadership positions for 8.5 years on average (with tenures ranging from 1 to 59 years). Almost half (48%) of the CEOs had worked for their companies prior to assuming the top position.

The participants in this survey have years of expertise and extensive business knowledge. Their statements provide solid, detailed information and insights into the everyday process of transformation in their companies. Looking back on the past ten years, we can now refer to answers from 637 CEOs in the German-speaking world in total. These surveys provide insights into how transformation processes can be successfully put into place.

The articles in the 2020 CEO study provide a wide range of perspectives, exploring the challenges that top managers face when dealing with transformation processes in general. We look back on investments in past transformations as well as current, pressing challenges in the present. We devote one article each to the topics of success factors for change, major stumbling blocks and key lessons learned by the CEOs. 

In the section "Transformation processes over time: A look back on ten years of findings from our CEO Study" we summarize the findings regarding our CEO surveys. It must be stated that this data does not allow for a long-term view in terms of causal relationships, because the groups who participated in each year's study were not the same. However, the findings of the past ten years do produce one clear result: transformation processes are a fundamental part of every leadership team's job, and successfully directing these processes is an important criterion for the long-term success of the companies. The company’s strategic focus and the restructuring and optimization processes it entails are also in the hands of the companies’ top management. Through their leadership, the CEOs provide guidance and orientation to their employees precisely when they need it most: during times of transformation.


We are proud of the wide range of companies whose CEOs, managing directors and partners were so kind as to meet with us for a personal interview: 

Information technologies & Telecommunications

Sharpist Startup
Founder & CEO Fabian Niedballa

CEO Urs Schaeppi

Visionary AG
CEO & VRP Olivier Willi

Machines & Chemicals

Bucher Industries
CEO Jacques Sanche

WMK Plastics
CEO Martin Aeschlimann

Banking & Insurance

Graubündner Kantonalbank
CEO Daniel Fust

Helsana Versicherungen
CEO Daniel Schmutz

Hypothekarbank Lenzburg
Chairwoman of the Executive Board Marianne Wildi


IKEA Schweiz
CEO Simona Scarpaleggia (until August 2019)

CEO Manuela Beer

Spar Handels AG
CEO Hans Beer

Real Estate

CEO Olivier Hofmann

Apleona HSG AG
CEO Michael Rohner

Media & Corporate Consultancy

CT Cinetrade AG
CEO Wolfgang Elsässer

Hkp /// group
Senior Partner Dr. Christine Abel