Interview with Christian Sebregondi
Christian, you have worked in many different organisations over the past 20 years. Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey?
It all started with Credit Suisse and my move into IT after my apprenticeship to build Web Servers. Back then it was all learning by doing. So soon I took on more and more responsibility within the company for the global internet and intranet. It was a fantastic journey and by the time I left, I was in charge of over 50 country websites on our global intranet, as well as an internal collaboration space with an international team with members in Zurich, New York, Hong Kong and Wroclaw. As a next step, I was keen to gain more experience in the eCommerce area and was lucky enough to have the chance to be part of the Migros team that built the clothing, electronics, sporting goods, furniture and gardening online shops. Again, a fantastic experience where I learned a lot in eCommerce / Marketing.
Then I got involved in another great story about a newly built department within Zürcher Kantonalbank that is the driver for the digital transformation and looks after all the channels (offline and online). As Head of Solutions & Delivery in the Multichannel Management Team, I am still part of that exciting journey to improve the customer experience with a user-centric approach on all our digital touchpoints with the clients.
What is the most relevant learning that you gained during that period?
There are two quotes from Steve Jobs that perfectly summarize my most relevant learnings:
1. When you want to build a high-performance team then you need to take a longer-term view on people. Mistakes happen and as a leader your first reaction should be how to help the team to learn from that mistake vs just fixing it.
2. I don’t hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do. When I hire, I try to find people who would like to tell me what I should do rather than the other way around. People that take on ownership, burn for a topic and are ready to fight for it.
How did it come that you travelled to over 50 countries?
I wish I would have been able to travel to all 50 countries we built a website for. I was more traveling to our main hubs around the world. To some more extensively than others (e.g., I visited New York more than 60 times during those years.
What is the most challenging aspect of building websites in foreign languages?
Legal, Legal, Legal… 😊 To incorporate all the local laws into the websites was very painful.
What is the best or worst career advice you ever received?
I was really lucky with my mentor and coaches. So I got a lot of great advice. One of the more recent ones was about changing perspective. In many discussions, I find that people have a difficult time changing perspective and trying to understand the other person’s position. In many interactions, I see this as a key challenge and reason why progress is slow and conflicts arise. Seek first to understand and then to be understood helped in many cases. (e.g., the book “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen R. Covey.)
You’ll be speaking at European PO&RE Day about new leadership structures. Why is this topic important?
Leadership has changed in a very positive way. I remember back in my early days when I started my business career. People were smoking in the office and I had a boss who told me every day, in detail, what I had to do.
I am glad that both things are habits of the past. In this VUCA world we need to let go and give more trust and power to our staff. With Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, etc., leadership structures are changing in a positive way. Command & control are things from the past, we need a new culture and structure. People need to take on more ownership and responsibility. Otherwise you won’t be fast enough to adapt to the disruption in your industry.
What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?
I have been playing soccer since I started walking. I am now a soccer coach for kids and that is super exciting. It is not always easy to work with children that have a very diverse background but it is very rewarding and also helps me with my personal development.