Every year on the occasion of the lecture preceding graduation, EPFL Alumni gives an Alumni Award to EPFL graduates who have distinguished themselves over the course of their careers.
Irina du Bois, CGC ’70
Irina du Bois was born in Romania and graduated from EPFL in Chemistry in 1970. She joined Nestlé’s food regulation department in 1976. She climbed up the company ladder and became the first female Deputy Director at Nestlé in 1986, in charge of regulatory and environmental affairs. After she retired from Nestlé in 2010, she served on Givaudan’s Board of Directors. When her husband, History professor at IHEID in Geneva, passed away in 2007, she created the Pierre du Bois Foundation to support research in the area of Current History. In addition, she started a full university education in History of which she graduated in September 2016, with a Master Degree in International History.
Roland Loos, EL ’87
A Luxembourgish native, Roland Loos studied electrical engineering at EPFL and graduated in 1987. After a few years in research and an engineering position at the administration of the Canton of Vaud, he joined the satellite communication field at Telecom PTT. After a few years with PTT, he founded his own company, NewSat Communication, in 2000, offering communication solutions to major oil and gas groups. A great commercial success, NewSat merged with an American group before being bought in 2015 by Panasonic Avionics Corporation. Roland Loos left the company and got involved in many EPFL projects, giving his time for the MOOCs for Africa program, investing in several EPFL start-ups, and supporting Prof. Courtine’s research on neuro-rehabilitation with a donation.
Silvio Napoli, MX ’89
Silvio Napoli was born in 1965 in Roma (Italy). He graduated from EPFL in Materials Science in 1989. After a few years in the industry at Dow Chemical (Germany) and an MBA from Harvard Business School, Mr. Napoli joined Schindler in 1994 and drove the Group’s implantation on the Indian market. He was appointed CEO in January 2014, a position he held until April 2016 when he was named President of the Group’s Executive Management Board.
Yves Paternot, PH ’67
An EPFL graduate in physics, Yves Paternot started his career with IBM. After completing his MBA at Harvard Business School in 1971, he launched the American branch of Adia SA, a Lausanne-based temporary staffing company that will become Adecco in 1996. After further developing Adia’s business in Japan, Europe and Canada, Yves Paternot became the group CEO at the end of 1980’s. In the 1990’s, Yves Paternot focused on creating and developing biotech and medtech companies by contributing to commercializing promising research projects from EPFL or CHUV. He started Oncoethix in 2007, a biotech company that develops promising anti-cancer molecules. The company was acquired by Merck in 2014.
In 2005, Yves Paternot was elected President of the ISREC Foundation (Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research). In his role, he led the project of a new Swiss cancer research center in Lausanne, in collaboration with EPFL and the University of Lausanne. Yves Paternot was also the chairman of the Nelia and Amadeo Barletta Foundation that promotes individualized therapeutic care for cancer and is a member of the Foundation Council of the Leenaards Foundation that supports innovation and creativity in the fields of science and culture in the Lake Geneva area). Yves Paternot died in February 2016.
Camille Vial, MA ’01
Camille Vial studied mathematics at EPFL where she graduated in 2001. Born in a family of bankers of French origins, Camille Vial decided to start her career in financial services right upon graduation. She first gained experience in portfolio management, investement startegy and human ressources at Mirabaud in Geneva. She then broaden her perspectives with an experience at Mirabaud Securities in London and at other international financial firms likeLloyd Georges Management and Tim Tacci International.
Back in Geneva in 2009, she took the lead of the Portofolio Management activities at Mirabaud. In 2011 at 33 she was appointed Managing Partner of Mirabaud SCA, first woman ever to hold that position. In parallel to her leadership role at Mirabaud, Camille Vial sits on the managing committee of the FER (Féddérations des entreprises romandes) and on the Strategy & Surveillance Committee of Sustainable Finance Geneva.
Igor Perisic, MA ’91
Igor Perisic received a diploma in mathematics from EPFL in 1991, followed by a PhD in statistics from Harvard University. He started his career in industry in Silicon Valley first with the software start-up Entopia before going back to academia for a one-year postdoc at Stanford University. After a second start-up experience as the CTO of healthline.com – a health information website – Igor Perisic joined Microsoft as a product manager in their research unit. In October 2007, he joined the then-4-year old company LinkedIn as the engineering director in charge of the search engine, algorithmic recommendations for website customization and data infrastructure. He currently holds the position of Vice President Engineering at LinkedIn.
Laure de Saint Denis, MA'85
Laure de Saint Denis, EPFL graduate in mathematics in 1985, first joined Procter & Gamble France before joining Hewlett Packard in 1988, France Telecom Orange in 2007 as marketing director of the group. Since 2012, she held the position of marketing director in the Defence and Aerospace division at Airbus.
Jacques de Saussure, MA'75
Jacques de Saussure, EPFL degree in mathematics in 1985, has expanded his scientific knowledge with a Master in business administration and finance from the Massachusetts Institute where he coasted not less than six Nobel Prize in economics. In 1980, he joined the bank “Pictet”, one of the largest private banks in Switzerland. He makes there a remarkable career: since 2010, he is senior partner of the Pictet Group.
Jacques Baur, PH ‘81
Director of Research at Rolex SA, Jacques Baur graduated as a Physicist Engineer in 1981 in the field of semiconductors. He continued toward a PhD and defended his thesis in experimental physical metallurgy. In 1994, he began his career with Rolex by creating a research group on watch materials. In 2007 he was appointed R&D Director of Rolex. Jacques Baur is also committed to training engineers. He is a member of the CCMX steering committee at EPFL.
Christian Posse, MA ‘88
Christian Posse, Technology Program Manager at Google, graduated in mathematics in 1988, obtained his doctorate in 1993, and went on to Stanford where he did a post-doc through a grant from the Fond National. A few years later, he decided to apply his research to the solution of real problems. He became an expert in data mining and worked for several start-ups. His algorithms and models are precursors of the social networks that exploded a few years later. Cisco, LinkedIn and Google punctuate his exceptional career.
Horst Hippler, PhD ‘74
Horst Hippler earned his PhD from EPFL in 1974, after graduating in 1970 with a degree in physics at the University of Göttingen in Germany, where he’s from. After a detour to the United States, he returned to the University of Göttingen where he was appointed Professor in 1988, followed by a chain of academic positions: Professor in the Chemistry Department of the University of Karlsruhe (TH), President of the University of Karlsruhe (TH), Founding President of the merger of the German Institutes of Technology, President of the German Rectors’ Conference of Baden-Wuerttemberg and President of the European Confederation of Upper Rhine Universities. Finally, he was elected head of the European Network of Technological Universities in 2012 and Chairman of the Conference of Rectors of German universities. A career like his always receives many awards: Commander of the Order of Academic Palms in 2007, member of the German Academy of Engineering in 2009, Dr. Honoris Causa in 2011 (Arts et Métiers ParisTech), contributing member of mathematics-physics courses at Göttingen Academy of Sciences and member of the Board of the École Polytechnique ParisTech.
Aymeric Sallin, PH ‘00
Aymeric Sallin graduated a Physicist Engineer from EPFL in 2000. In Zurich in 2002, he founded NanoDimension, the first venture capital firm dedicated exclusively to nanotechnology. In 2008, he gave NanoDimension a global dimension by opening offices in the heart of Silicon Valley. NanoDimension is a private investor dedicated to the world’s most important nanotechnology, and Aymeric Sallin is a key player in raising funds for the start-ups he works with and where he serves on the board of directors. Recognized as a leader in nanotechnology and innovation, in 2013 Aymeric Sallin joined the “Young Global Leaders” of the World Economic Forum, was elected one of the 300 most influential people in Switzerland by Bilan in 2011, 2012, and 2013, and in 2012, he was named one of the top 20 managers in Switzerland under 40.
André Borschberg GM ‘77
Born in Zurich, André Borschberg earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering and Thermodynamics from EPFL in 1977 and is also licensed by MIT in Management Science. To launch his career, he worked for 5 years at McKinsey where he gained extensive experience as a director and company builder. Later, he co-founded a venture capital firm and built two technology companies all while remaining committed to the organization Restos du Cœur and to helping the infirmed. André Borschberg is a member of associations such as the prestigious Young Presidents’ Organization and the Organization of Chief Executives. An aviation enthusiast, he completed his pilot’s training at the School of the Swiss Air Force and has been piloting aircraft and helicopters professionally for over 20 years. In 2003, André Borschberg joined Bertrand Piccard to start Solar Impulse, an innovative project for solar airplanes, and became its CEO. His talents as an entrepreneur serve the 65 people that make up the project’s team and his piloting skills serve the aircraft. Thus, on July 7, 2010, he performed for the first time a 26-hour flight with the Solar Impulse aircraft, proving the ability to fly day and night by solar power.
Alain Fuchs, CH ‘76
Born in Lausanne, Alain Fuchs graduated in chemical engineering from EPFL in 1976 and earned his D.Sc. from the University Paris-Sud 11 – Orsay in 1983. He was later appointed Professor at the Pierre and Marie Curie University.
In 2000, Alain Fuchs founded and directed the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry at Orsay, and was named Chair of External Aggregation of Chemistry and Chair of Section 13 of the National Committee for Scientific Research. In addition, while performing these prestigious posts, he was appointed Director of Chemistry at ParisTech. Finally, in 2010, he became the new President and CEO of CNRS.
In addition to all of this, Alain Fuchs is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a member of the editorial offices of the journals, Molecular Simulation and Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, and board member of the International Adsorption Society. He has also been honored with several awards: Knight of Academic Palms in 1996 and a Knight of the Legion of Honour in 2010.
Philippe Petitpierre GR ‘75
Philippe Petitpierre earned his engineering degree from EPFL in Environmental Sciences (Agricultural Engineering) in 1975 and successively obtained two Master’s degrees from EPFL: the first in Environmental Sciences in 1977 and the second in 1982 in Energy. After spending a few years as an assistant and then lecturer at EPFL, he joined the Swiss gas industry in 1982. He produced several high-pressure pipelines – the sub-lacustrine pipeline of Lake Geneva in 1995, among others. He stepped away from applied engineering in 1997 and joined the management of several gas distribution companies. He assumed the presidency of these companies in 2007 after founding the Holdigaz Group in 2005, which now comprises 16 companies.
In 2010 he led the first deep drilling search for natural gas in western Switzerland. Since 2013 he has also chaired the transit company for natural gas, GAZNAT, and its subsidiaries Petrosvibri, Fingaz and Unigaz.
He represents the Swiss Gas Industry at the European level (Eurogas) and internationallly (IGU - International Gas Union).
In addition to being a member of numerous boards of directors in the field of energy, finance and transportation, Philippe Petitpierre is involved in politics at the cantonal level. In 1993 he founded Vaudois Economic Development, which he still chairs.
Since entering the gas industry, Philippe Petitpierre has always maintained a close relationship with EPFL, first as a lecturer for almost 15 years on Energy in the Third Cycle, and then as President of the IML – EPFL (International Institute for Management of Logistics), a position that he continues to hold today.
Christophe Beck, GM ‘91
Christophe Beck is the International President of Ecolab, the world leader in water treatment, chemical technologies for oil exploration, food security, and prevention of infections. Christophe Beck is now charged with the growth, in more than 170 countries, of this company that is worth nearly $14 billion and employs 45,000 people worldwide.
Prior to joining Ecolab, Christophe Beck was responsible for European sales at Nestlé. Earlier in his career, he also worked on several projects for the European Space Agency.
In 2006, Christophe Beck was named “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum for his achievements and his commitment to building a better world. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering earned from EPFL in 1991 and sits on the board of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce.
Franck Riboud, GM ‘81
Franck Riboud received his degree in Mechanical Engineering from EPFL in 1981, after which he joined the Danone Group, where he rose through the ranks until becoming Chairman and CEO in 1996. However, that strong start did not stop: parallel to this brilliant career, Franck Riboud also served as a director of Renault, Lacoste and ONA Group – the largest Moroccan industrial group and private financier – and as a member of the Supervisory Board of Accor. In March 2006, he joined the Board of Directors of GAIN, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, a Swiss foundation whose goal is to enable everyone in the world to have access to a healthy and balanced diet. Finally, since 2007, he has served as Chairman of Danone Communities, a financing structure that supports the development of companies whose primary purpose is to maximize social benefit, rather than their own profit.
Charles Hauser, PH ’67, DR ‘72
Charles Hauser has been a Physicist Engineer since 1967, holding his doctorate since 1972. He is the founder of the company HCT, which specializes in methods for wafer sawing. For several years in the 1980’s, HCT was the only manufacturer of this kind and thereby became the global leader in open abrasive multi-blade saws prior to being copied by the few manufacturers capable of mastering this technology. Early machines had the ability to cut 200 silicon wafers at once with a much lower loss than other methods at that time, but today they are able to saw several thousand wafers simultaneously, with unlimited diameters and thickness. HCT has recently been taken over by US-based Applied Materials, which moved its activities to China, but this technology is still at the forefront of the manufacturing of silicon wafers. Today, whether in a computer, mobile phone or any memory card, inevitably one or more of its components has been through one of these machines.
Léonard Gianadda, GC ‘60
After studying at the College of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice, Léonard Gianadda became a photojournalist for the TSR in 1957 and studied at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne where he earned a degree in civil engineering in 1960. He opened an engineering office in 1961 in Martigny. In 1978, he opened the Gianadda Foundation in Martigny in memory of his brother who died accidentally on July 31, 1976, as a result of an airplane landing failure in Bari. On June 4, 2003, he went to Paris, where, under the dome of the Institut de France, he became a member of the Academy of Fine Arts. In 2009, he opened the socially oriented Annette & Léonard Gianadda Foundation in Martigny, in a new building.
Khater Massaad, MA ‘78
Khater Massaad graduated in mathematics from EPFL in 1978. He is the founder and CEO of RAK Ceramics, the world’s premiere ceramics company. He also leads RAKIA in a structure that drives the economic development of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Since August 2003, he has served as an advisor to the Crown Prince & Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. Kather Massaad co-founded the Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics Company PSC (also known as RAK Ceramics) where he is the CEO and has led the movement to globalize through a program of rapid diversification. Finally, as a Director of Al Hamra Fort Hotel & Beach Resort, he has played a major role in the tourism sector in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.
Mark Bürki, EL ‘87
Marc Bürki (EL ‘87) was a MétéoSat Telecommunications Specialist within the European Space Agency before founding Marvel Communications with his friend and associate, Paolo Buzzi. Ever since completing his studies, he has been itching to build a company. Financial technologies paved the way, and with Swissquote, he has combined the tradition of Swiss banking with the approach of a polytechnic engineer. By incorporating new Internet technologies into banking, he has created, once again with his partner Paolo Buzzi, a benchmark financial engineering business.
Paolo Buzzi, MT ‘89
Paolo Buzzi (MT 89), a founding partner of Swissquote Group, is the current Chief Technology Officer of Swissquote Bank.
He is also co-founder of Marvel Communications. He began his career as a specialist in software integration at Rolm Systems, in Santa Clara.
Bertrand Cardis, GM ‘81
Originally from Lausanne, Bertrand Cardis (GM ‘81) is a mechanical engineer with a passion for sailing. He developed this hobby to the extent of becoming an exceptional navigator, advancing all the way to the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. On his return to the Lausanne area, he participated in the creation of the company Decision SA with the goal of building the maxi-yacht named UBS Switzerland, which became famous after winning the race around the world in 1985–86. He remains director of Decision SA, located in Ecublens close to EPFL, and designs structures based on his research into composite materials. With his collaborators, he built the Alinghi boats that won the America’s Cup in 2003 and 2007 and the composite structures in the Solar Impulse aircraft. The company is expanding into the construction industry.
Aart De Geus, EL ‘78
Originally from the Netherlands and raised between French-speaking and German-speaking Switzerland, Aart de Geus (EL ‘78) extended his studies in Texas.
Active today in California, he is the Chairman and CEO of Synopsys, a world leader in CAD (Computer Aided Design). Synopsys Outreach Foundation, which he founded in 1999, promotes scientific projects and the learning of mathematics in Silicon Valley.
He has accumulated various distinctions: in 2002, “Electronic Business” named him CEO of the Year and, in 2004, “Information Technology” dubbed him Entrepreneur of the Year.In addition to being Chairman of the Electronic Design Automation Consortium (EDAC), the trade press designated him as “one of the ten most influential leaders.”
Maria Theresa Ivorra, MT ‘91
Since earning her degree in Microtechnology (MT ‘91), she has led a distinguished career running a high-tech enterprise by becoming the CEO of RUAG Space Nyon, recognized worldwide for its products linked to the success of space missions. She is also a board member of the Swiss Association of Astronautics. Many of her projects have led to collaborations with EPFL, thereby promoting the technology transfer that is essential to our school.
Jean Edouard Rivier, CH ‘65
After graduating from EPFL, Jean E. Rivier earned his PhD at the University of Lausanne in 1968. He was professor at Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology at the Salk Institute, a California Institute of basic research in biology, named after its founder Jonas Salk, who pioneered the implementation of a vaccine against polio. Jean E. Rivier studied the chemical composition and structure of hormones produced by the brain. His lab played a fundamental role in the design of molecules that can either interfere with or mimic the effects of these hormones.
Jean Pierre Rosso, GC ‘65
Jean-Pierre Rosso, member of the board of directors of the medical technology company Medtronic, settled in Chicago. He began his career at Honeywell France in 1969. In 1975, he became President and CEO of Nightingale, which became, under his direction, the leading American manufacturer of skis. Of French origin, Jean-Pierre Rosso holds dual French and American citizenships. He returned to Honeywell in 1981, where he held various executive positions until 1994, the year when he was appointed the head of CNH (Case New Holland), leader in the field of agricultural machinery, a post he held for ten years.
Marc Châtelard, GM ‘73
A native of Chamonix, Marc Châtelard has built much of his career in Asia. This French national earned his degree in mechanical engineering from EPFL in 1973 followed by an Executive MBA at HEC Paris.
He has accumulated over 40 years of experience in management and project direction. He has worked for Framatome, as part of the construction of the nuclear plant Ulchin, located in South Korea.
Marc Châtelard was also director of the project “TGV Korea,” for the company Alstom. This project is one of the largest ever in technology transfer between France and Asia.
He then successively served as Alstom’s operational manager first for the Asia-Pacific Region and then for Southern Europe.
Pierre Douaze, EL ‘64 (Deceased)
This former Vice-President of A3 led a distinguished career with Esso (as the Industrial Consumer Sales Manager in Madagascar from 1967 to 1970), at Ciba Geigy (Hong Kong, Belgium and France, and Head of the Pharmaceutical Division in Basel in 1989, member of the Executive Board and Head of Healthcare in 1991), and finally at Novartis, where he rose to CEO of the Healthcare Division.
This French national earned his degree in electrical engineering at EPFL in 1964 before joining INSEAD in Fontainebleau, where he earned an MBA in 1967. The latter, he said, changed his life, giving him a global outlook on business: “It was a turning point.”
Pierre Douaze lived in Pully and often visited France for hunting. He remained active on the boards of directors of several companies, including Serono and Galenica.
Olivier Trancart, EL ‘83
Olivier Trancart graduated in Electrical Engineering from EPFL in 1983 and entered the field at Hewlett Packard shortly thereafter. After opening the market for the company in North Africa (including Algeria), he created an international career – Budapest, Paris, Cupertino (CA) – as VP in World Sales for financial markets. In 2001 he moved to Singapore to assume the direction of System Access Software (Core Banking). As Executive Vice President in charge of sales for the group, he restructured and sold the company in 2004 to the i-flex Group (Bangalore), the leader in this market. He participated in the proposed takeover by the ORACLE group and then decided to return to Switzerland in 2008 to begin a career as an entrepreneur and independent investor. He contributed to the creation of Polytech Venture (seed funding for Swiss Romande technology start-ups). Olivier Trancart is a corporate director in pursuit of development projects in the Middle East. He is also active in new IT start-ups in India. He lives in Geneva and travels regularly to India, where he is participating in the renovation of a haveli in Rajasthan.
Daniel Borel, PH ‘73
Born on February 14, 1950, in Neuchâtel, Daniel Borel earned his degree as a Phycisist Engineer from EPFL in 1973. Thanks to a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (NSF) for scientific research, he studied in California, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1977.
He is co-founder of Logitech, created October 2, 1981, in Apples (VD), Switzerland. In 1988, he placed Logitech on the Swiss stock exchange and received the Branco Weiss Prize as “Entrepreneur of the Year.” In 1992, when his company went through a difficult period, he left Switzerland to resume Operational Management in Silicon Valley. That same year, he received the honorary title of Dr. h. c. from EPFL. In 1997, he placed Logitech on the Nasdaq Stock Market in New York. In 1998, he hired Guerrino de Luca as CEO. He remained Chairman of Logitech until 2008, when he took his “operational” retirement.
He sits on the Boards of Directors of Nestlé and Logitech. He also served on the board of Phonak (Sonova) and that of the private banking group, Julius Baer. In 2000, he founded SwissUp, a foundation for Excellence Training in Switzerland. In 2003, he created with his wife the Defitech Foundation that is dedicated to making information technology available to the disabled.
Nicolas Musy, PH ‘86
Nicolas Musy has lived in the Shanghai area since 1988. He is a partner in and led the establishment of the first Swiss industrial SMEs in China (in 1993) and of LX Precision, the first Swiss turning company in China. In 1997 he co-founded Integrated China, a company that has facilitated the integration of one hundred Swiss companies in China. In 2001, he co-founded the Swiss Center Shanghai. Since 2006, Nicolas Musy has also served as China Relations Coordinator for EPFL. He demonstrated that a Swiss entrepreneur was able to successfully establish an SME in China and has thereby helped other Swiss SMEs to enter the Chinese market. This project was also awarded Best International Project at the 3rd World Chambers Congress.
André Pittet, EL ‘80
André Pittet has shown an exemplary commitment for over twenty years at the Centre For Electronics Design And Technology on the campus of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He has been instrumental in the recent and highly productive scientific cooperation between Switzerland and India.
Zhanbing Ren, EL ‘90
Zhanbing Ren returned to China after his doctoral studies and research at EPFL. In Shanghai, he set up a new production unit for Bobst, for which he served as CEO from 2000–2011. This mission was accomplished brilliantly within an atmosphere of mutual respect between the Swiss and Chinese cultures. His universally recognized professional and personal qualities also elevated him to the position of President of the Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai from 2003–2007. After two years of experience at Georg Fischer Piping Sytems from 2011 to 2013 as the Asia Pacific President, he was named in 2014, President of the Shanghai Sino-Swiss International Trading Co., Ltd.