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Interview with Serge Guignard, head of specialist area Commerce in the competence sector Command and Control + Reconnaissance Systems

In this interview, Serge Guignard reports on the challenges in the continuous development of the specialist area Commerce C+R.

Evelyne Gänsli, specialist areas Commerce and Communications Systems, Command and Control and Reconnaissance Systems

Serge Guignard, H SA FAKo in the Administrative Centre at Guisanplatz 1.
Serge Guignard, head of specialist area Commerce in the competence sector Command and Control + Reconnaissance Systems.

What made you decide to change from the specialist area External Relations to the specialist area Commerce in the competence sector Command and Control + Reconnaissance Systems (FAKo)?

After many years of working in the competence sector Resources + Support, I wanted to switch back to Procurement. My incentives were the diversity of the tasks and the opportunity to take on more responsibility, as well as to actively shape changes and innovations in the procurement environment. For example, as is currently the case with the implementation of the Deloitte recommendations.

What was your greatest challenge to date?

From 01 January 2019, we introduced a new team structure. The change from the old to the new organisation had a large impact on the employees and their working areas. What was particularly important was contemporary, comprehensible communication in order to take the employees forward and to dispel their fears. At the same time, we introduced codes of conduct regarding how we want to deal with each other and with the project managers, as well as our customers, in the future. In addition, we were very keen on working on the quality of our provision of services.

What would you do differently today?

Thanks to intensive discussions between employees, team leaders and myself, we have, for the most part, been able to recognise and avoid mistakes at an early stage. Today, I would consider one aspect as a point for improvement: Over the last few years, FAKo hired a large number of young employees, which means that the age span now ranges from the baby boomer generation to the millennials. In retrospect, I would give even more consideration to the topic of generation in the team building process.

What has helped you to grow?

The diversity of tasks and projects in a - from a technological point of view - very promising task area with discerning clients such as the Federal Intelligence Service FIS; the Military Intelligence Service NIS or the Armed Forces Command Support Organisation AFCSO. As well as, however, the digitalisation of my working environment, which has steered me to other, new working methods and prompted me to change my thinking. As have my four team leaders, who challenge me with their open nature and culture of feedback. In addition, I became more aware over the last few years that appreciation towards other people is a great motivator, thus laying a significant foundation stone for own initiative.

What makes you proud?

My employees, because they increasingly take the initiative and assume personal responsibility for structuring their working area. In the last two years, we have implemented numerous improvements in the commercial handling of armament projects within the CS C+R, as well as for the benefit of the whole of armasuisse.
The continuous improvement process (KVP) is supported and experienced by the employees today. They develop innovations which are represented in the decision-making bodies - for example the management of CS C+R or the Commerce board. In this process, the employees take responsibility up to the point of reproduction in the business processes and implementation.

Tom Hug, team leader of Commerce Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems; Claus Köhnen, team leader of Commerce Computer Systems/Dep H FAKo; Michael Hess, team leader of Commerce Command and Control Systems; Serge Guignard, head of specialist area Commerce C+R; Andreas Arni, team leader of Commerce Communications Systems in the Administrative Centre at Guisanplatz 1 in Bern.
(Left to right) Tom Hug, team leader of Commerce Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems; Claus Köhnen, team leader of Commerce Computer Systems/Dep H FAKo; Michael Hess, team leader of Commerce Command and Control Systems; Serge Guignard, head of specialist area Commerce C+R; Andreas Arni, team leader of Commerce Communications Systems.

How do you spend your leisure time, where do you recharge your batteries and find a balance with your job?

My family comes first for me. They support, advise and reflect me. When I talk to them, difficult topics can sometimes be objectified and put into perspective. That gives me strength. I spend as much of my leisure time as possible in nature, I enjoy swimming and biking and I’m currently completing the restoration of my vintage car.

If you could wish for something, what would it be?

As a topical subject, I wish that the vaccination campaign of the FOPH will progress more rapidly and that this will enable us to regain at least a part of our freedom, in other words, to be able to maintain social contacts more intensively again.

You have been at armasuisse for 23 years. What has changed during this time?

I have the impression that my work environment has become younger, or I have become older (laughs).
The requirements for employees and executives have risen significantly, for example, the volume of work and the time pressure have increased. Changes in the environment are reflected in everyday working life in ever shorter cycles, and the individual provision of services becomes more transparent and measurable.

At the same time, soft skills such as social and methodical expertise, capacity for teamwork, willingness to change, self-initiative and personal responsibility of each individual have become more important. This means that neither management nor employees can be successful today based on professional expertise alone. In the project management environment, it is rather a question of developing the ability to create a team from people with different backgrounds and technical competences and to achieve goals in pressure situations. In the future, we will continue the further development process. We will use, amongst other methods, the initiatives of armasuisse.

Brief profile

Serge Guignard, married, father of two daughters (17 and 13 years old), has been working for armasuisse since 01/09/1998, where he is/has been active in various different roles.

  • 1998 – 2001 as project controller/Dep H Commerce at CS Aeronautical Systems
  • 2001 – 2006 as Head of the Brussels office (representative National Armaments Director at NATO and the European Defence Agency)
  • 2006 – 2012 as Head of International Relations (RSRe > Staff Management > CS R+S)
  • 2012 – 2017 as Head of External Relations (political/industrial business, international affairs, translation service)
  • 2012 Qualification eMPA University of Bern
  • Head of Commerce Command and Control + Reconnaissance Systems since May 2017