Introduction to the alumni board: Nikola Bellofatto

lic.iur. Nikola Bellofatto, Attorney-at-law, Executive M.B.L.-HSG is Partner at Lustenberger Rechtsanwälte and responsible for events within the Executive M.B.L.-HSG Alumni Association.

Please describe your background?
I work as a partner/lawyer with Lustenberger Attorneys at Law based in Zurich. My main fields of work are commercial and banking law as well as employment, immigration law and white collar crime as far as this is related to commercial law. In my capacity as a member of the Board of Directors in national and international companies I not only have an inside view but can contribute from a legal side what is needed to focus on today's legal challenges. Supporting management of companies as well as acting as an out-sourced legal department of SMEs for all sort domestic and international legal requirements including litigation rounds out my job as a legal counselor.

My academic background started at the University of Zurich, continued at Seton Hall University (NJ/USA) and led to the E.M.B.L-HSG (course of 1999/2000) at the University of St.Gallen, to which I feel most attached due to the program and the Alumni association. Before I started my academic education, I graduated from Business School and worked with an insurance company.

I joined the board of the alumni in 2008 and enjoy arranging events, such as the networking-lunches in Zurich and/or annual meetings together with Nadja.

Important parts of my background are my activity besides my legal work in our firm. I used to teach in a private business school, which then led to the fact that I was elected to chair a local primary school community. In my position as president of the school I was an active part of one of the biggest mergers of primary and secondary schools in the Canton of Zurich. Not an easy but interesting task. I served four more years as vice-president of the merged school community mainly dealing with HR. After this interesting experience, I was called to serve as a member of the board of a public high school, where I am still involved. Recently I was elected to serve as the legal counsel of one of the oldest private high schools and a Cantonal pedagogical institute, which gives me a change to my day-to-day work. Being an active part of the development of education, meeting different people and trying to shape today's educational needs for young people of tomorrow is extremely interesting and satisfying.

What is your personal mission as a member of the Alumni Association?
The Alumni Association is a dynamic organization that is recognized as a valuable resource by the University of St.Gallen and to the E.M.B.L. program. I see my personal mission in facilitating and motivating my colleagues to build relationships and a sense of camaraderie among students and alumni of the program and continuing to point out the importance of this unique program not only in Switzerland but also abroad. I would use the slogan "stay connected and move on together". I think that this slogan characterizes what could be understood as my personal mission.

In your personal opinion, what is the benefit of an alumni association in general?
"Stay connected and move on together" requires being permanently aware of the achievements of the program and to continue keeping in touch with alumni, sharing the same values. The alumni association is an immense network of professional contacts, all with which we already have more than one thing in common. We can use the online alumni directory to connect with people, who could be great resources for informational interviews or introductions. Our alma mater also has much more to offer, an international network, career services and alumni discounts.

And the Executive M.B.L.-HSG Alumni Association in particular?
The E.M.B.L.-HSG Alumni Association is a rather small but in itself very active and focused association. This allows us to move quickly and to offer a wider range of more personal services and contacts to our friends and colleagues than the alma mater could offer. Less quantity but ensured personal quality. There are a lot of other benefits that come with being and staying alumni with the E.M.B.L.-HSG Alumni Association, such as access to all documents and presentations of the current international program, personal access to professors and lecturers.

One of our main sources of networking is attending the (annual) events and joining professional groups to build long-term relationships. Often such involvement leads to precious friendships that last a long time. It is this kind of involvement that makes a small but active alumni association attractive and unique.

What was the most memorable experience you have had during your membership in the Executive M.B.L.-HSG alumni association?
As it was a long time ago, more than 17 years that I graduated from the program, I keep precious memories of all my colleagues. With some of them we still keep a friendship and meet regularly not only for the alumni events. Those friendships, but also new and interesting people that I get to meet and to know in the annual meetings, are very enriching and make it worth continuing being actively involved in this organization.

My memorable experiences are all based on the people, which I met and still meet in the annual meetings, where we have more than one evening time to exchange views and stand points, to discuss what the world needs or doesn't and what the elixir of life is. Such wonderful friendships and personal meetings are to be remembered and continued.

I would like to mention the work of Patrizia, which is often not seen in all aspects. She did and does so much work for our Alumni Association that I would want to give her a special place in my comments and thank her a lot. Without her, the program and our alumni organization would not be where we are now and today. I therefore wish to thank her on behalf of the board and all alumni for the enthusiastic, professional work she does for all of us. She reacts swiftly, be it during the weekends or at night and has a comprehensive problem-solving attitude combined with a friendly personal appearance. This makes her a very valuable person for the program but also for our organization. Without her continuous help, Nadja and I would not have been able to organize this year’s annual meeting in Tbilisi.

What do you especially look forward to in the year 2017 - either personally or in connection with the alumni association?
One of the most spectacular highlights was our annual meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia. This was such an interesting educational journey that I am still fascinated by what we saw and learned, people we met and personal meetings and exchanges. I had talks with people I thought to have known for a long time but got to know them much better and closer. For me Georgia and the personal meetings were and still are a special highlight of the year.

For 2017/2018, new and young colleagues have to follow and shape the organization to what is needed and requested tomorrow. In this sense, I don't want to stand in the way but motivate colleagues to join the board soon and get involved. It is certainly rewarded in one or another way.