RoBe Alumnus at the Largest Bank in the World

Daniel Hollenstein
Daniel Hollenstein works at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, Zurich Branch. How does he come to work for the world's largest bank? What are the tasks of a Chinese bank in Switzerland? And how did his Rochester-Bern Master’s prepare him for the challenge? This article provides answers.

“After many years at Swiss banks, I wanted to gain a new experience at a foreign bank,” says Daniel Hollenstein. Since June 2023, he has therefore been working at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC), Zurich Branch as Head of Swiss Corporate Clients. ICBC operates in 49 countries, has around 450,000 employees and approximately 700 million private customers and 10 million companies. This makes ICBC the largest bank in the world, at least in terms of total assets and employees.

ICBC was founded in the 1980s and five years ago the Branch was established in Zurich. In addition to the usual banking services such as financing, cash management and trade finance, the Zurich Branch also offers an extensive network in China, which gives companies with a connection to the Middle Kingdom a major advantage. The target clientele are the top 100 Swiss companies with subsidiaries in China. Hollenstein’s task is to further expand and strengthen the business with Swiss corporate clients.

Well Equipped Through Rochester-Bern Continuing Education

“Since my basic education, I have completed a continuing education program every five to ten years. This allows me to keep my finger on the pulse, develop myself further and constantly expand my network,” says Hollenstein. He generally recommends that all people who want to actively shape their careers and remain attractive on the job market regularly attend continuing education – whether in the form of a CAS, DAS or Masters. In 2016, Hollenstein completed a management master’s degree at Rochester-Bern. He can still apply what he learned today. The following three topics in particular are useful to him in his current job:

The first topic is “Valuation”: “I picked up various tools in the Rochester-Bern Master’s that now help me to evaluate companies better,” says Hollenstein. In addition, he was also able to benefit greatly from the contributions to “Global Economic Environment”. Above all, the macroeconomic correlations help him to better understand the challenges of his clientele and to find appropriate solutions. The third topic, which is currently particularly useful, is “Leadership and Organization”. “To successfully build the Swiss Corporate Client Team, I need the right people and a motivated environment. Elements such as intercultural leadership or power dynamics, which we covered in the master’s program, are of great benefit to me,” says Hollenstein.

China-Switzerland Relations

Switzerland was one of the first Western countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China in 1950. “This is still very much appreciated by the Chinese today and they have great respect for Switzerland, especially for the strong economic and political stability of our country,” Hollenstein says. The two countries have correspondingly close economic ties, which were further strengthened by the 2014 free trade agreement and bring benefits for both sides.

For Switzerland, China is very interesting due to its huge domestic market and as a production location. China, in turn, benefits from Switzerland’s know-how, e.g. in areas such as high-precision industry, life science or the dual education system. Of course, an entrepreneurial step into China needs to be well prepared: “If a company wants to gain a foothold in the Chinese market, it must consider it carefully: Market research and the planning of sufficient resources are indispensable. In addition, one should not forget that there are some cultural differences between China and Switzerland,” says Hollenstein. In principle, however, economic cooperation with China offers a lot of positive potential. “The relationship between Switzerland and China has developed well over the past 70 years and I firmly believe that it will continue. So that we have a stable environment in which we can get the best out of it for our clientele.”