Three questions to Christoph Schmocker

The General Manager of the Julius Baer Foundation will be lecturing at the V Executive Course on Strategic Philanthropy

Three questions to Christoph Schmocker

Which are the main points of attention to define the strategy of a corporate foundation in your experience?

A corporate foundation strategy has to be a good mixture, aligning with the corporate environment, values, vision and culture but maintaining an autonomous , own kind of identity.

To give you an example: the corporate value of Julius Baer are “Care, Passion, Excellence” and at the Foundation we do live up to those, adding up to those our three own drivers: “Focused, visionary, autonomous”. All of those values must be included in the overall strategy: we chose “autonomous” to state our identity without separating from our mother house. You cannot ignore the corporate context you work in.


Why should a company create a foundation, rather than relying on its CSR activities solely?

From a corporate perspective there are four pillars to be considered in terms of positioning its role in society.

The first encompasses activities for the employees. For example our foundation is matching bottom up initiatives form the JB Cares, an initiative the employees of Bank Julius Baer, often in case of natural disasters. . Therefore it’s about promoting and supporting what our people do for the benefit of society.

The second concerns the strategic approach of the company, who can have a sustainability theme, a social responsibility or environment theme, it can dedicate working days for corporate volunteering… etc. Therefore everything that relates with how the company shows its engagement in the society.

The third leg can be a corporate foundation, which involves efforts and economic resources going towards third parties, not to the benefit of internal people or projects.

The fourth is everything related to money: we are thinking that the foundation’s capital should be in an ESG environment, so to obtain financial returns in a more sustainable and responsible way.

My point is: it is not only about the foundation. A foundation can be a strategic tool in the portfolio of measures the company can implement to demonstrate its corporate citizenship, but it is not the only one.


With which goals you have assumed your new role at the Julius Baer Foundation?

I have 9 goals, let me give you three:

  1. To organize the corporate foundation’s governance in a best-in-class sort of way.
  2. If we achieve goal one correctly and in a reasonable time, the next step will be to position the foundation within the company and amongst the client as a “cool thing to be part of”. I don’t know if inspiring employees is too ambitious, but that’s the direction I would like to take, so that one day the foundation can be so dynamic and successful that an employee wants to ask himself “How can I be part of that?
  3. Our main purpose is to help young people who want to get a quality education, so whatever money we invest I want to find impactful approaches. Many things can help us do that, for example through a rigorous selection of partners, on-site visits, proof of impacts… to see that we are really helping our final beneficiaries.


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