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Officers and bankers

Oliver Müller and Daniel Weilenmann are conscript officers who serve actively in the Swiss Armed Forces while holding down highly responsible jobs in different divisions of Credit Suisse. Both are committee members of the Of@CS association and are keen to ensure that the work of armed forces officers is recognised and appreciated in the civilian world. The Swiss Armed Forces invited the two officers for an interview.

11.05.2020 | Communication Defence, Eve Hug*

SCHWEIZ BANK CREDIT SUISSE
Photo:Keystone

Can you tell us something about your current jobs at Credit Suisse?

Oliver Müller: I am head of the transaction monitoring unit in the Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) Division at one of Credit Suisse’s largest offices. Transaction monitoring involves identifying possible money laundering activities or other offences in customer transactions. Suspicious transactions are then investigated in more detail by a different team and, depending on the result, reported to the authorities. The main teams are based in Zurich, Raleigh (USA), Pune (India) and Singapore.

Daniel Weilenmann: I am a team leader in the International Trading Solutions (ITS) section of the Global Markets Division. My current team, which is made up of currency traders, looks after and advises national and multinational companies and has a particular focus on managing currency and other financial market risks. We deal on a daily basis with CEOs, CFOs, treasurers, controllers and currency traders from a wide range of businesses.

 

In addition to your demanding management positions at Credit Suisse, you are also officers in the Swiss Armed Forces. How do you manage to do both jobs at the same time?

OM: It goes without saying that it is quite a challenge, juggling these commitments. Basically though, if I am away from work the same rules apply as in the military: there must be clear arrangements as to who deputises for me and that person has to have the necessary information and instructions. Ideally, I should finish off as much ongoing work as I can beforehand, and make it clear what takes priority at the handover. I have to inform my superiors as early as possible. Getting yourself organised and making preparations are essential. With today’s methods of communication, you can deal with a lot of things from a distance. And at the end of the day it is like any other commitment you make for the benefit of others, whether in a club, in politics or elsewhere: it involves additional work.

 

What are the attributes of an officer that the bank most appreciates?

DW: Robert Wagner, the Chief Operating Officer and a member of the executive board at Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG, summarised these attributes at the Of@CS spring event 2019 very aptly. The typical characteristics of an officer, he said, are shaped in the same way in all officer-training courses – and they are what Credit Suisse appreciates: integrity and reliability, good personal organisation and structured thinking, stamina and resilience, and the ability to keep calm in hectic situations. These characteristics are essential for anyone who holds down a responsible job, and certainly for staff and management in financial institutions.

 

A different question: what is the purpose of Of@CS?

OM: Of@CS is a Credit Suisse employee network set up a few years ago by conscript officers working for the bank, which provides a platform for organising events and exchanges between employees who are officers in the military. It is not only for officers in the Swiss Armed Forces; there are also members who have served in the armed forces in other countries.

 

How has the Of@CS network developed in recent years?

DW: Of@CS has grown quite considerably and now has around 200 members. Every year it holds two events at which a senior staff officer (with the rank of general) in the Swiss Armed Forces is the main speaker. Our organisational team is currently made up of Col. Matthias Vetsch (retd.), Col. GS Oliver Müller, 1st Lt Olivier P. Müller (retd.) and me. We are delighted to say we have always been able to persuade a member of the executive board or the board of directors to host our events. In our opinion, that is a good sign.

OM: One point I should make about our 200 members: we have noticed in-house that the regular training that you get in the armed forces is now much more recognised than it once was and is very much respected, particularly by foreign executives. Because the armed forces are reducing their numbers quite considerably, it is unlikely that the number of conscript officers in the private sector will ever increase again, so having as many as 200 members is quite remarkable.

 

Can you name a specific situation in your work when your military training has helped you to solve a problem?

OM: There are a few principles that I have learned in the army, that have probably been instilled in me, that are also equally valid in the private sector. I regard the structured process of military command and control procedures as extremely helpful. There are some aspects, though, that you have to be careful about: there is no standardised language of leadership in the private sector, not like there is in the armed forces. The very pronounced matrix organisations and the major cultural diversity that you find in the private sector also have a considerable influence on everyday management tasks.

DW: In my job, I regularly call on the experience I have gained from my military training. Depending on the situation in the financial markets, we can find ourselves in some extremely hectic phases. As far as coping with stress is concerned, I have learned through my military training to take a step back in heated moments and to assess the situation again calmly before making a decision. Above all, if I need to make rapid decisions in a short space of time, taking a moment to think carefully about the options is often more productive and at the end of the day usually brings better results. My military officer training has taught me not to put pressure on myself and not to succumb to stress – a vital skill in my view!

 

And to finish: what for you personally is the most important thing that you have learned through training to be an officer in the armed forces?

OM: I was given a great deal of responsibility in the armed forces at quite a young age. The time I spent as a company and battalion commander has certainly made me what I am today. The leadership courses that the armed forces offer are excellent and I have really benefited from them. The experience I have gained in countless leadership situations, along with the feedback I have received, have equipped me well for my professional career.

DW: The structured process for solving problems, whatever they may be, and the ability to explain complex situations in a simple, understandable way are valuable techniques that I have learned in the armed forces. The numerous decision-making exercises, having to issue orders in the Officers’ School, in the leadership course for company commanders (FLG I) and in the practical training we do in the refresher courses have given me an ideal basis to work from.

 

*This interview was reviewed and approved by the Credit Suisse communications department.

Colonel GS Oliver Müller

OliM

Professional position: Managing Director Financial Crime Compliance, Credit Suisse Services AG | Military rank & position: Colonel in the General Staff, Officer assigned to a brigade commander.

Captain Daniel Weilenmann, M.Sc. LSE

Portrait_Weilenmann_Daniel

Professional position: Director International Trading Solutions, Credit Suisse AG | Military rank & position: Captain, Commanding officer of Armoured Coy 14/1.