"Communication has the responsibility of conveying the emotional values of a company."

Dr. Gabriela Maria Payer, Board member

As a multiple board member, you actively help define the strategy of companies. Has the importance of corporate communications in the strategy of companies and organizations changed in recent years?

The importance of communication in the company has increased. In the context of strategy definition, communication has the function of positioning content and values precisely and clearly and reducing complexity. In the context of increasing transparency, communication also has the task of increasingly conveying the emotional values of a company. 

People often talk about a "new governance" in which the board of directors in particular has a stronger role and responsibility in the management and control of a company. How do you define your role as a board member of a company?

The role and tasks of the board of directors change in line with regulatory requirements, but they also depend on the life cycle and industry of the company. As a member of the Board of Directors, I am always caught between control and compliance issues on the one hand and a creative responsibility for strategy on the other. Finding the right balance is the great challenge - and can only be achieved through interaction within and between the boards.

You have a lot of experience from the financial sector. What are the major challenges facing the Swiss financial center in the coming years?

The Swiss financial center is still based on the proven factors of political and economic stability, legal certainty and a high standard of education. Probably the greatest challenge is to maintain and promote the innovative strength of the industry. We need close cooperation between research, new companies and business models, and traditional market players. The financial industry will have to develop in a very innovative and at the same time value-oriented way, as well as imperatively demand a high level of technology competence from its participants.

Blockchain, cryptocurrencies and the digitalization of assets in general are defining a new dimension in the handling of assets and financial values. Is Switzerland really one of the world's leading locations in this area, and how sustainable do you think this development will be?

New approaches in the field of asset digitalization, e. g. developments in the sense of "Decentralized Finance", also represent a democratization of asset valuation. This is a paradigm shift in the financial industry, but very familiar to all of us as an evaluation process in many areas of life, such as the search for a hotel, restaurant or employer. Swiss values as described above help, combined with pragmatic regulation.  Last August, for example, Switzerland became one of the first countries in the world to implement regulations for blockchain technology with the DLT ("Distributed Ledger Technology") Act.  Moreover, digital assets - and cryptocurrencies in particular - are finding a rapidly growing acceptance in the regulated environment and definitely also among traditional institutions, thus opening the way out of the rather speculative space. In terms of sustainability, the high energy consumption of early protocols has not only been recognized but has also already been addressed with new solutions in an increasing number of currencies.

You have already worked with various companies and in various projects with IRF. What is most important to you when working with a communications consultancy?

The most important thing from my point of view is to understand the assignment and the challenge. By that I don't just mean understanding the facts, but the culture and the tone in the context of the project or the company. This only works if you listen well and ask specific questions. IRF has been able to demonstrate this ability in the context of various mandates.

What role do media play in the interaction with business and politics in your opinion?

The media are a kind of transmission channel for our society. They should inform but also question, deepen and provoke. Due to the democratization of news production and distribution via social networks and platforms - which is also increasing here – the individual responsibility of media consumers is growing. One must consider and increasingly actively decide where, how and when one picks up which information. This would be a learning topic...

Speaking of politics, how can we counter the constant increase in regulations? How should the business community respond to the ever-increasing influence of politics and administration?

We must once again find a way to simplify and specify facts and political framework conditions. This requires an open dialog between all stakeholders in order to create clearly understandable framework conditions with common sense. However, regulation does not have to be all bad. In the financial sector in particular, various innovations and research results have emerged in recent years on the basis of or as a result of regulatory requirements. But I also believe that we will see completely new reactions. For example, I find the development of the "Decentralized Autonomous Organization, (DAO)" interesting, even though there are still numerous and big questions here. But such open organizations, or rather platforms, are a possible answer to free us from many restrictions. We will probably have to search for and develop not the "best practice" but the "next practice".

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+41 43 244 81 44

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