Interview with Ivo Wechsler - CFO of HUBER+SUHNER Group

This interview was published on 17 July 2020

Deloitte: How has your company fared during the COVID-19 crisis so far? What have been the most tangible impacts and challenges?

Ivo Wechsler: HUBER+SUHNER has more than a dozen production plants around the world and the first to be affected by COVID-19 was our Chinese plant. It had to close at short notice, with staff in back-office roles working from home. As the pandemic spread around the globe, this was repeated at other locations, although we were able to continue production in some countries. We also brought in some cost-saving measures to help us adapt to reduced demand.

Deloitte: What kind of measures did your company introduce for staff during the crisis? And how have they worked?

Ivo Wechsler: There are many different things I could mention but the most striking was probably the rapid move to working from home, which employees around the globe have really embraced. All internal meetings are now being held by videoconferencing. And I’d also single out the health and safety measures that we had to introduce and enforce right across the company, particularly in the production area.

Deloitte: What do you think has been the role of CFOs in this crisis? How were you as CFO able to help your company through the crisis?

Ivo Wechsler: For me, the most important thing is that the CFO does his or her homework before a crisis erupts – I’m thinking of transparent financial reporting, a solid basis for proactive cashflow generation in the company, a healthy balance sheet, and an effective core team on whom the CFO can depend on when times are tough. As a result my role as CFO didn’t actually change fundamentally during the crisis, though it probably shifted towards more (short-term) scenario planning, given the unpredictability and scale of the COVID-19 crisis.

Deloitte: Many processes have moved online during the crisis, such as video calls instead of face to face meetings and online shopping. Which areas has your company been moving online? And do you think this move to digitalisation will continue in the long term?

Ivo Wechsler: At HUBER+SUHNER, we were digitalising long before the crisis in areas including operational excellence in industrial processes, interaction with customers (e-commerce) and office automation. Working from home has been part of our employment models for some time, and once things are back to normal, it is likely to be extended further. What we have learned from digitalisation has been overwhelmingly positive, so we are assuming that we will not be turning the clock back on these digital projects. Despite that, I personally think it is still essential to see colleagues and associates face to face.

Deloitte: Assuming the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 continue to be eased, how quickly do you think your company can get back to the pre-crisis situation? And where do you see particularly significant opportunities for the company after the pandemic?

Ivo Wechsler: HUBER+SUHNER serves three main markets: communications, transport and manufacturing. What these three markets share is that in structural terms they remain among the most promising growth markets and make use of often system-critical applications where our innovation capacity is crucial, such as 5G technology, autonomous driving, data centres and security-related communications. So the relevant factor will be how rapidly the uncertainty that we are experiencing both as individuals and as a company can be alleviated.

*Since 2010, the CFO Forum Schweiz has recognised the achievements of Swiss CFOs with its CFO of the Year awards. The awards cover three categories:

  • Swiss Market Index Expanded (SMIEXP)
  • Swiss Performance Index Extra (SPIEX) excluding SMIEXP
  • Member of CFO Forum Schweiz

Several factors are considered in judging the awards, including personality, specialist expertise, stand-out achievements, familiarity with the company’s business, and reputation among analysts and investors. A panel of judges ensures that the many facets of CFOs’ achievements and skills are reflected appropriately. Deloitte is represented on the judging panel, along with other leading Swiss companies and experts.

Ivo Wechsler


Ivo Wechsler has a degree in Business Studies from the University of St Gallen in Switzerland. On graduating, he held posts in Corporate Finance at UBS and in various Controlling and Treasury roles with Sunrise and Ascom. He joined HUBER+SUHNER in 2008 as Head of Corporate Controlling. Since 2010, he has been CFO and member of the Executive Group Management with responsibility for Finance and Controlling, Legal, Investor Relations and Strategic Purchasing. In this role he has been crucial to the successful development of the HUBER+SUHNER Group. Since 2019, Ivo has also been a member of the Board of Directors at Zehnder Group AG.