Monday, November 5, 2012

Of Chocs and Cheese and All Things Swiss

It was such an opportunity – a study trip to Switzerland! Who would have thought we would be one of the lucky ones chosen to spend six days in September in two world-class cities - Geneva and Zurich?

Together with 13 course mates from the Diploma in Marketing, we visited to four distinguished Swiss companies with strong brand heritage and distinctive products and also two top ranking Swiss universities, University of Zurich and University of St Gallen.

We were hosted by the University of St Gallen, a leading Business School in Switzerland.  The Dean of External Relations & Development, Dr Juergen Bruecker, spoke about the University’s mission and how our institution could collaborate with them, due to the recent launch of St Gallen Institute of Management in Asia in Singapore. 
We also visited Tag Heuer’s headquarters. It was an insightful and enriching experience. The Manager of Communication & Brand Heritage, Marie Ansel, took us on a guided tour of the Tag Heuer 360 Museum, which showcased a unique collection of precision time-pieces made in the brand’s past 150 years.  During the watch-making factory tour, we had the privilege of getting up-close-and-personal with the Master watchmakers and were shown how the movement of the Calibre 1887 was created and assembled for Tag Heuer Carrera.

Our next stop was a visit to Victorinox Swiss Army Knife’s Brand Store & Museum (opened last year).  The museum showcased the history of Swiss Army pocket knives and the latest products and brand extensions of Victorinox Swiss Army.  We had great fun during a demonstration and hands-on session.

A visit to Switzerland will never be complete without deepening our understanding of how Swiss Chocolate and Swiss Gruyere Cheese are made.  We boarded the Golden Pass Chocolate train at Montreux and visited the Nestle Chocolate Factory and La Maison Du Gruyere Cheese Dairy.  It was certainly a feast for the senses. We took in the sights of the production process and fragrances from natural ingredients. We also tasted chocolates and cheeses to our hearts’ content!  

Next, for a different cultural experience, we visited a medieval castle – Chateau Gruyeres.  It was a sight to behold – the cobbled stone courtyards and fortresses from centuries back.  To me, it is definitely one of the most magnificent castles in Switzerland. 

We also set foot in an UNESCO World Heritage Site – Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, where we had a session of wine-tasting and learnt about the wine-making process.  We roamed the extensive acres of vineyard and found, to our delight, the grapes ready for harvesting!
As we walked around the streets of Geneva and Zurich, from the Old Towns to the weekend markets, we noted down these experiences. We certainly brought home many memories from this awesome learning journey. 

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