Managing Director of Y-PARC, the first and largest technology park in Switzerland. Originally from Yverdon-les-Bains, Juliana spent 10 years working in Silicon Valley before returning to Switzerland. While in the US, Juliana worked as a director for Beehive Holdings, an investment fund focused on tech start-ups. She has also served as a Trade Commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada, where she helped Canadian technology companies access Silicon Valley’s financial resources and develop their activities in the global marketplace. Juliana holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Spanish from Seattle University and a juris doctorate from the John F. Kennedy Faculty of Law.
Watch an extract from the interview
How has the crisis affected your business and your residents’ needs?
There’s been a change in that we now mix working from the office with working from home. I think there is a value to working from home for certain aspects. For example, we’ve learned that it can be more efficient to have a 15-minute video call about something that used to take an hour in a meeting. What hasn’t changed is that it’s still vital to listen to our clients’ needs, respond to them and offer flexibility. For our SMEs, we’ve added more options of flexible workspace and shared services. For our start-ups, we also had to offer free rent for a while. We’d already anticipated a growing need for more flexibility, and the crisis has accelerated that. We’ve seen a positive response from our companies and we’ve been lucky so far that we haven’t lost business.
In terms of Y-PARC as a location, the need for production and industrial space hasn’t changed. Fortunately, that’s our strength here. Most of our companies are doing R&D and production. Having said that, we have seen some changes in the way office space is used – people are scaling down or switching to rotation models, for example. We’re hearing from a lot of companies that they’re on standby, they’re waiting to act. That’s scary, because being in standby mode is the enemy to innovation.
We have seen some changes in the way office space is used – people are scaling down or switching to rotation models.
What the most valuable thing you’ve learned from all of this?
That we’re vulnerable. Every business is vulnerable. The market can change overnight, we can’t always see it coming. We’re vulnerable with our team as well. If one person is infected, the whole team has to be shut down. This vulnerability to external factors is something we didn’t anticipate.
I think in every situation there is something to be learned. I wouldn’t say this crisis is an opportunity exactly, but I do believe in silver linings with every difficult situation. In this case, it really showed me the resilience of my team facing adversity.
How would you summarize the “new normal”?
The new normal is a cold community where we have to keep our distance. We see it at events. People are afraid to exchange, to get close to others. It’s the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve with this place. Before it was warm. People were asking each other: what are you working on, can we partner? Now it’s like: oh, are you sneezing? Our social customs – like the French cheek kiss “la bise” they’re gone. I know some people are happy about that, but the connections are gone. How can we recreate that? That’s going to be a challenge because we’re not out of this crisis.
The connections are gone. How can we recreate that?
Any last words?
This too shall pass.
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