Basel, 20 September 2019 – The Board of Fondation Botnar has elected Prof. Thomas A. Gutzwiller its new President. With extensive scientific and entrepreneurial experience, Prof. Gutzwiller is also familiar with the world of philanthropy through various positions held. He succeeds Dr Peter Lenz who helped establish and definitively shape Fondation Botnar since its beginnings in 2003.
Prof. Thomas Gutzwiller (58) was yesterday appointed President of the Board of Fondation Botnar, effective 20 September 2019. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of St. Galler Kantonalbank and Professor for Executive Education, with focus on technology and transformational growth, at the renowned University of St. Gallen. He is chair or member of several boards of directors and foundation boards, including the Ernst Göhner Stiftung and Swisscontact, as well as being partner of a management consulting firm specialised in transformational growth.
Thomas Gutzwiller brings this wealth of valuable insight to Fondation Botnar. The foundation champions the use of AI and digital technology to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in growing urban environments worldwide. Fondation Botnar also seeks to incorporate entrepreneurial approaches both at the strategic level and in its implementation work: “I am looking forward to joining Fondation Botnar on their promising path. I am a firm believer in its combination of digital solutions and thriving local ecosystems to foster the best possible future and opportunities for children and young people around the world,” says Thomas Gutzwiller.
Dr Peter Lenz (82), a lawyer from Basel, served as President of the Board of Fondation Botnar since its founding in late 2003. As an advisor to entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Octav and Marcela Botnar, he supported the couple’s establishment of Fondation Botnar. Under Dr Lenz’s leadership, Fondation Botnar has built a strong management office over recent years and further developed its strategy. The Foundation Board and management team would like to thank Peter Lenz for his many years of great service and guidance.
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About Fondation Botnar
Fondation Botnar is a Swiss-based foundation which champions the use of AI and digital technology to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in growing urban environments. To achieve this, the foundation supports research, catalyses diverse partners, and invests in scalable solutions around the world. Fondation Botnar is a member of SwissFoundations, the association of grant-making foundations in Switzerland.
Interview with Prof Dr Thomas Gutzwiller, President of the Board, Fondation Botnar
“The world is not made of heroes.”
What made you agree to become President of the Board of Fondation Botnar?
I believe it is a match for us both. I hope my professional and scientific background, in corporate and organizational development, will prove useful to the foundation, and I see it as an opportunity to effectively apply strengths to something close to my heart. Some of my forebears were Romanian, like the founding Botnar family. All of this means I am very much looking forward to taking up the position.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I am a team player, be it on an executive or foundation board. Success is achieved by sharing a goal, not by acting alone. The world is not made of heroes.
What will your focus be at Fondation Botnar?
This is not about me as a person, but my function as President of the Board. In particular, my task is to ensure the sound running of the foundation. Governance, compliance, risk management – these are critical elements, next to monitoring the strategy implementation.
How do you see Fondation Botnar’s strategy?
The focus is development – developing and strengthening the potential of individuals, communities, institutions, cities, regions. A highly-networked approach, it matches my ideas of success, as does the foundation’s focus on children and young people. If the conditions are right, young people are keenly motivated to become involved. I saw this, for example, growing up in Ghana, and still see it today where I have returned several times. Our goal is to create the right conditions and dynamic ecosystems for children and young people to truly realize their potential.
What about the foundation’s focus on growing urban environments and digital innovation?
More and more people live in urban areas, also increasingly in low- and middle-income countries. And in the African region, for example, there are places that already have better technological infrastructure than we have here in Europe. I believe our success as a foundation will be measured in how we support human potential with digital and entrepreneurial initiatives over the longer term.