Portrait Series – Nr. 2
Name: Guillaume von Roten
Age: 26 years
Country of Birth: Switzerland
Subject of Studies and Home University: Finance, University of Lausanne (UNIL), Switzerland
Place of Work in India: swissnex India, Bangalore
Subject of Research: Investment on the Indian stock market in comparison to the United States and French stock markets.
Guillaume von Roten spent six months living and working in the vibrant south Indian city of Bangalore, one of the country’s leading cities in information technology (IT). While still engaged with his master studies in Finance at UNIL, Guillaume decided to embark on a slightly different adventure. ‘I wanted to gain work experience in another field than finance and add a valuable personal experience to my formation in general,’ Guillaume said. As he heard of the job opportunity at swissnex India, he did not hesitate and applied for it. ‘The ‘Faculté des Hautes Etudes Commerciales’ – the business school of UNIL – sent out emails to us students about job openings at the swissnex offices. My professors also informed about it during classes,’ he added. Inspired by these various inputs, Guillaume became more and more fond of the idea to step out of his well-known Swiss university life and dive into another culture.
To Guillaume, the position at swissnex India undoubtedly appeared to be the perfect match that served both personal- and study oriented interests. In regard to his master thesis, for example, being in India enabled him to focus more specifically on the Indian stock market. ‘My motivation was to meet people knowing the stock market in India to acquire some expertise for my master thesis,’ he explained. ‘And indeed, my experience shows that it is much easier to do research about something you are actually able to connect with in its original setting,’ he concluded. And asked about his future career goal, Guillaume said that after being in India he would like to do something more related to social impact such as micro-finance to support people in developing and implementing their own projects.
‘At swissnex India I worked in academic relations and was simultaneously acting as an ambassador of my faculty at UNIL. Thus, I found myself being part of a very lively network in the fields of education, science, art and innovation,’ he said. ‘Thanks to the variety of projects at swissnex India and the occasions to attend events such as Alumni meet-ups or visits at science institutes, I got in contact with many people and, therefore, could expand my personal network too,’ Guillaume said.
The six months in India taught Guillaume not only to take initiative in the job but also to deal with some particular challenges in the daily life. He concluded, ‘You always need to be a bit pushy when trying to obtain something. Looking back today, I would insist more strongly in certain situations such as booking a cab or making reservations.’ ‘Nevertheless, I have really learned how to bargain with rickshaw drivers,’ he proudly added. ‘To make your way on foot in a city like Bangalore is exciting and tiring at the same time. It feels hectic with all these crowds and crossing roads, for example, became a daily challenge. You really have to pay attention not to get lost and to learn to deal with the dust and the constant emissions you are exposed to,’ he said.
Apart from the many personal interactions at work, Guillaume’s highlights were his travels across the country: ‘India is so colorful and my highlights were definitely my journeys by train including an amazing trip to Nepal and an unforgettable stay at an Indian family’s home. Adventure is part of a successful stay abroad so it helps a lot to be open-minded and not to plan too much in advance!’ And with a smile he advised, ‘Pay attention to the head-shaking in India: it can mean ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’. Especially in the case of the last one, it is more than just recommendable to make yourself understood even though that might take several attempts.’
Interviewed and edited by Kathrin Honegger, Academic Relations & Projects, swissnex India.