Human Resources Manager, Leister AG
Always in a hurry, always with a warm smile whenever we run into her, and always asks: «How are you?». This is how everyone here knows Iris Gisler. In an interview with Silke Landtwing, Corporate Communications Manager, Iris Gisler talks about where she gets her energy from and what she enjoys most about her job at Leister AG.
Iris, you joined Leister AG in December 2013 as the Human Resources Manager. What brought you to Leister?
It was a lucky coincidence. I took a trip around the world and when I came back was looking for a new job. Leister had just advertised the position of Human Resources Manager. And because I grew up and have roots in Obwalden, I knew Leister of course – also because my brother has worked at the company for more than 25 years now – and so I applied. I remember exactly what I said to Michael Sigrist, Chief Human Resources Officer, when he called to tell me that I got the job: «Mr. Sigrist, you have no idea how happy you’ve made me.»
I really wanted to work at Leister, because both the sector – machinery and industry – and the international setting appealed to me. It was something completely new for me, which was exactly what I was looking for.
What kind of training does it take to do a job like this?
I began with a business-related internship in an insurance company and then continued to work in the insurance industry. While working, I also completed my training as a Swiss-certified insurance specialist and then added training as a Swiss-certified marketing planner. However, I soon realized that not all facets of marketing appealed to me equally; neither market research (statistics) nor calculating market shares within distribution channels; they were just too dry for me.
I was lucky and got a job in the human resources department at AXA Winterthur. As the Human Resources Manager, I was suddenly responsible for around 70 trainees within a business unit and was also the contact person for staff working in the claims department. I was pretty much thrown into the deep end of the pool at the time, but I soon learned. I completed my training as a Swiss-certified HR specialist during my employment there. I was also lucky to have the support of trainers with many years of practical experience, not only at the beginning, but down the line as well.
How long did you work at AXA?
I was with AXA for 16 years, in various positions. I started in an agency as an «internal sales representative»; later, to fill in for my supervisor who became ill, I also did some work in external sales. This means that I visited and advised insurance customers at home. After spending some time in England to learn English, I was offered two temporary positions, first as an administrator in the key account and brokerage business and then in the claims department. I then transferred to the training center and trained prospective external sales representatives. On January 1, 2005, I joined the Human Resources department, where I stayed until leaving to travel around the world.
Education is one thing – personality and experience are another. If you had to describe yourself with three adjectives, what would they be?
You're asking me questions that I usually ask the candidates I interview (laughs).
I think I'm quite positive. I am solution-oriented and usually in a good mood.
Yes, that's exactly how I see you. You always seem cheerful and full of energy. What’s your secret?
Some of it is just my personality. I think life is easier with a positive attitude. When you’re grumpy all the time, it comes back to you. Besides, I enjoy my job a lot.
I draw peace and energy from nature. For instance, I like to go jogging or walking. And I enjoy peace and quiet after work, just having some time for myself. I read a lot and on weekends I like to cook something special.
What’s a normal day like in your job?
I'm at the office early in the morning because I need a bit of time to get «warmed up». From 7:00 to 8:00 a.m., I take my time answering e-mails. I usually schedule interviews with applicants from 8:30 a.m. onwards. After the interviews, I follow up with candidates or get ready for other appointments. I structure my day in blocks because structured work and being well prepared for a meeting are very important to me.
I have more appointments in the afternoon. Basically, my day consists of meetings with supervisors, employees and applicants, including meeting preparation and follow-up.
Are there also things you would like to change or improve?
We have the potential to make our company even better known, especially among students. This is why we intend to continue to cooperate with the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU), such as through periodic specialized lectures. And of course, we would also welcome a closer cooperation with other universities.
The team in charge at the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg visited us here in Kägiswil. We had the opportunity to thoroughly present our company as well as hot air and laser welding.
The Rapperswil University of Applied Sciences (HSR) and the Northwestern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (FHNW) in Brugg-Windisch will be part of the program starting in 2020. At these universities of applied sciences we focus primarily on events that deal with the professional future of students.
Of course we will be back next year for the contact meeting at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) and at the Polymesse at the ETH Zurich. We meet a lot of interesting people at these student job fairs and, of course, potential employees. We talked to a lot of students at the HSLU’s 2018 contact meeting, for example, and three of them decided to take a job at Leister that same year.
From left to right. Jürg Bühler Head of R&D Platforms and Rafael Fanger, Design Engineer Technical Textiles, both Leister Technologies, and Iris Gisler, Human Resources Manager, Leister AG, at HSLU contact meeting 2019 in Lucerne
And, I have a personal goal. The entire employment application market is in a state of flux. People actively submit applications less frequently. Instead we have to find and recruit them through various channels – such as social media platforms. Digitization is changing the way we work and how we work together. That is why I am pursuing training in this area and completing the CAS Work 4.0: Digital Collaboration & New Work 2019. I am now 46 years old, so I still have 20 years of work ahead of me with the challenges of an emerging digital transformation. It’s important to me to respond to changes appropriately and at the right time.
How has Leister changed since you started working there in 2013?
Leister has grown bigger and bigger. Before constructing our new production facilities, which were ready for occupancy in July 2019, we were nearly out of room for new employees. When I joined Leister in December 2013, we had 600 employees worldwide; as of August 2019, it is now around 900.
What are the special highlights of your job or what do you like most about it?
What I enjoy the most is the contact I have with people: internal or external. I also enjoy the versatility of my job. Working just with numbers wouldn't be for me. And I really value working with my colleagues at Leister, because our relationships are based on trust.
Leister is an exciting company. While we are at home in one of the smallest cantons in Switzerland, successfully operate worldwide. I like the down-to-earth atmosphere and, at the same time, our company’s innovative strength.
What's next on your schedule?
An interview with a candidate, of course I am not allowed to tell you the person’s name.
If I'm looking for a job at Leister, how and where is the best place to apply?
Thank you for the interesting interview and the insight into your professional development. And of course, I wish you the best of luck with your continuing education and loads of energy for your high-power job.