Stefan Hernandez

Branch Manager St. Gallen and SME Switzerland/Partner

«Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.»

(Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), Irish novelist and Nobel prize winner)

I grew up in Madrid, as the son of a Spanish industrialist and a Swiss mother. After my father’s untimely death, we moved to Switzerland, where I graduated from secondary school and the gymnasium in Zurich. This was followed by a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Zurich.

My professional career lead me to a Swiss corporation, where I was responsible for North, Central and South America as well as some Central African countries. Against a difficult political and economic environment, it was a question of securing and concluding business transactions, both legally and financially. In what had been five very satisfying years, I learnt how important a fair, open, and personal contact with customers is – irrespective of their nationality and culture.

Following this, I accepted a position at an internationally active SME in surface engineering, based in Eastern Switzerland. For 15 years, I was involved in shaping and heading the strategic and operational development of the company. During the last ten years, as its co-owner. After some intensive and successful years with the many colours and facets of business, which were characterised by a steady "up and down" of the world economy, I decided sell my stake and leave the company, in order to gather new experiences. What has remained are valuable impressions of an initially family-oriented SME, a vibrant network of people from business and society, as well as the knowledge and lessons learnt from leading a SME in a difficult and unpredictable environment.

After a short sabbatical, which in turn served to question the tried and tested, I decided to run a professional football club. A thrilling, nervous, passionate, but also unstructured and noisy environment. Great and impossible at the same time. I was their Chairman and CEO for just under a year. The withdrawal of a major shareholder lead to a shake-up of existing structures, hence, I decided to pave the way for a new composition of the Board of Directors. It goes without saying, that I remain loyal to the football club, both in my mind and heart! 

Owing to my extensive and manifold experience as a former co-owner, Chairman and CEO, I know only too well what it is like for owners and managers of SMEs. Particularly in challenging and turbulent times, against the backdrop of economic volatility or even "when things are going well" - the topics are often very similar. There are reasons for this! SME managers are under pressure - and yes, it is precisely this pressure they need to cope with in a successful manner, both for the benefit of the company, but also for the benefit of their private life! Often a balancing act for owners and managers of SMEs. Exciting and tremendously motivating - sometimes tiring and energy-sapping. That is exactly why it is beneficial to exchange ideas, take a break, and constantly question the tried and tested. That is what we are here for.

I am very pleased to be able to pass on my experience of the past years and the quintessence’s of them to the Grass-network and to accompany you with the prominent outplacement tools of Grass & Partner AG – be it through volatile or stable times. I am looking forward to meeting you!