Claudia Wirth, the new colleague at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute

2014-10-141014085443-claudia_finalkleinIf SNI members are looking for support in financial, human resource or administrative matters, again they will find a competent partner. In September, Claudia Wirth has moved into her office on the 4th floor of the Physics Department and rapidly made the SNI Secretariat the primary point of contact for a wide variety of SNI matters. Her goal for the new job is to always have an open door and to try to find a good solution for each kind of issue. Claudia is looking forward to dealing with many different people and questions. She tries to follow the principles of the actor, writer and director Georg Tabori, who described himself as a “playmaker” and who obviously has achieved to get the best out of everybody by his quiet and relaxed behavior.

Claudia came to the SNI from the Institute of Retail Management (IRM) at the University of St. Gallen. After four years at the IRM, she had decided earlier this year to look for a new challenge and this should be in her favorite city Basel. In the past, Claudia has already lived in Basel and she likes the nice atmosphere and the open and friendly people. So in May 2104, she was very motivated when she first came to the SNI for an interview marathon. While for other candidates the seven interviews in two hours were very stressful, Claudia flourished. “I was perfect for me to get to know the whole SNI-Team during these two hours”, she remembers. “And it was also a bit funny because it reminded me a bit of speed-dating”, she laughs. Relaxed, open, communicative and goal-oriented – this is how Claudia presented herself to the SNI management team and thus convinced everyone.

Jump into the deep end
On September 1st, Claudia took up her new position at the SNI and immediately was involved in the organization of the SNI Annual Event. So, her desk stayed empty for some more days and she took the opportunity to personally get to know many new colleagues and SNI members at Lenzerheide. “It was very nice to experience the relaxed atmosphere right at the start and I was really impressed by the quality of the presentations.”

During the meeting, Claudia felt a bit like being carried back to school days. She was glad that she still remembered a lot from her chemistry classes and that she was always interested in natural sciences. However, she did not follow this interest when she had finished school but chose Germanic studies instead. In 1987, she graduated with a thesis in computational linguistics and subsequently worked at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering in Stuttgart. She was planning to do her PhD thesis there. However, it turned out differently and Claudia spontaneously decided to apply for a position as Marketing Executive for Computer Science at the Springer-Verlag. At the beginning, the three years at Springer were not easy but Claudia gained a valueable life experience. She got to know that nothing can blow her away easily and that she can achieve her goals with empathy, patience and persistence. In the following years, she worked with different publishers in Germany and until mid 2002, she was Sales and Marketing Director of Lexika in Würzburg, Germany.

From Publisher to University
In the meantime, Claudia’s husband had received his PhD from the ETH Zurich and subsequently had found a permanent position in Basel. So, she planned to follow him to Switzerland. She looked for a job and found it at the University of Zurich. Until 2010, Claudia worked there as Science Manager at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (AILab) and as Head of Employment Services at the Zentralstelle der Studentenschaft. Asked if she missed the marketing aspects after having changed from her previous position to the university she replies: “Marketing is a way of living. In every position, I can be a marketer. If, for example, I am conducting a job interview, I crucially influence the relationship with the employer and that is an important form of marketing as well.”

Claudia pursued this philosophy during her time at the University of Zurich and subsequently also at the University of St. Gallen. In her new position at the SNI as well, she is particularly looking forward to working with different people of all ages and nationalities. Already in her first weeks, she enjoyed being confronted with researchers from natural sciences who, according to her judgment, differ in their way of thinking, their problem solving behavior and their ability to abstract from other scientists with whom she had worked in her pervious job. Claudia is also fascinated by the diversity of the SNI research topics and the interdisciplinarity within the projects. “I had a great start here and look forward to the work that lies ahead,” she comments.

Culture is at the top
Claudia is also happy to be back in Basel, because the atmosphere and the attitude towards life in Basel appeal to her a lot. On weekends, however, her house full of books and her seasonal theatre and concert tickets drag her back to St. Gallen. She is interested in any kind of culture, has a passion for music – from Mozart to Die Toten Hosen, owns the Swiss and the Upper Rhine Museum Pass and regularly goes on city trips to specific art exhibitions. From all the cities she has visited so far it is Tokyo that, besides Basel, lies at her heart. She is fascinated by the contrasts this city has to offer: the crowds of people on one street, the tranquility at a Buddhist cemetery just around the corner, and the relaxed coexistence of tradition and modern life. Claudia has travelled to Japan several times and is still enthusiastic and impressed by the country. “I become unbearable if I do not regularly go to Japan”, she admits. That’s good to know. Because when Claudia does not smile if we enter her office then we know that she needs a holiday in Japan.