He was a "simple picobello." One who "has everything under control, including himself." He had never had such a boss before and never after. The IT developer, who was subordinate to Thomas Süssley, 53, at UBS between 1997 and 2001, sighed, "Someone with this resume is now in the military? I don't know."
Has Officer Süssli been retrained in his career? Yes, says the IT programmer, who does not want to be named. Many former companions, who found the Handelszeitung, speak almost positively of him. "Knowledgeable," "focused," "no managerial attitudes," "completely sympathetic," grounded "- their ratings are at odds with anonymous criticism of senior military officials in news reports after Federal Councilwoman Viola Amherd (57, CVP) before four weeks chose Süssli announced.
Tenor: One who has never ordered grenades or fighter pilots cannot become a military commander. In fact, in his military career, Süssli led a medical company, a hospital battalion, and a logistics brigade, but without combat troops.
HR helpers without loyalty
It is striking that Süssli frequently changed jobs during his pre-war career. In the mid-1980s he entered as an apprentice to a chemical laboratory in Ciba-Geigy. In 1989, he joined Bankverein (SBV) in Basel, continuing his education as a programmer and two years later as a business IT major. As such, he led IT teams. "He was one of those rare bosses who could write program codes and link databases on his own." In short, he knew, he remembers.
He moved quickly. Four years later, in 1998, during the merger of the then large banks SBV and SBG into today's UBS, he knew from working in Basel the new UBS president Marcel Ospel (69). Süssli got up and moved into his office at Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse.
He wanted to be successful with Startup
Then he took on the task of building software that should automate securities lending, an insurance loan. It was aimed at large clients, such as banks and funds, who borrow their securities for a fee to supplement their returns.
This software is unique, so in 1999 UBS started a small business and marketed it under the name Finace. "It was some kind of startup," run by a "conspiracy team of about ten people," the senior manager recalls. Süssli was "extremely focused," says one employee. The one who calls home to collect a project while having dinner in the kitchen.
The head of the International Financial Business Solutions (IFBS) small business was Felix Oegerli, a former UBS working colleague, today ZKB's head of trading. He brought it to the company in 2001, with the idea of selling software around the world and making it a big deal. Oegerli was Süssli's mentor. He does not comment.
Entrepreneur Süssli was nothing
Defense Minister Amherd said in Süssli's idea that Süssli was an "entrepreneur and co-owner" of the company. Well, it's not. Oegerli was the boss, but Süssli was important. "He was the company's secretary of state, and he handled it well," the senior executive recalls, "but the software didn't fly."
Although Süssli had clients in Switzerland – Zürcher Kantonalbank, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, Vontobel – the software was too specialized to survive in the small Swiss market. "To be profitable, you have to find US banks as customers." But they came together because they demanded – "typical Americans," an industry expert – excessive guarantees of liability. That is how Süssli's hope of a business career ended. IFBS was sold in 2007 to a subsidiary of Swisscoma Comit, which four years later sold to the US Sungard Group.