Sebastian A.’s Finnish father and Swedish mother moved to Switzerland in the 1970s for work and to start a family. Born in Geneva, he attended the International School of Zug (ISOZ) from kindergarten until seventh grade. Sebastian then attended The Riverside School before graduating and moving to New York, London and finally back to Switzerland.
What took you around the world from Switzerland?
After graduating, I planned to study in New York and live in the US for a few years. However, the summer before going to university I met my Swiss girlfriend. While she was moving to Norway for a year to learn the language, I left for New York. Once I got to New York, I was applying for universities in Switzerland again. New York was not at all what I had expected. I was accepted to Zurich University (UZH) but for the following fall semester, so I went to the European Business School (EBS) in London for a semester in between.
At UZH I quickly realised my German would not be strong enough to finish my degree. After a year of attending courses there I switched to a business school in Zurich. During this time I reconnected with an old friend who introduced me to a position in the traffic department at an international steel trading company. My focus switched from studying to the idea of earning a wage. However, the department closed down in 2012 and I decided to refocus on finishing my studies with a good GPA, which I did by earning a BBA and graduating cum laude.
Shortly before graduating my friend contacted me again about another job opportunity. He was working as a financial strategist / advisor and was looking to build up his team. After looking at what they did and having the formal interview, I realised it was an amazing opportunity that I could see myself doing. So now I am a financial advisor for the largest independent financial planning company in Switzerland. The beauty about my job is that I can choose how much I work and am rewarded for how much input I provide – there is a minimum, but no maximum. I think I’ll work hard for a few years to get a good start and save capital to start my own business one day.
I am still with my girlfriend and we have a dog together. So all this was worth it in the end.
Do you keep in contact with anyone from your time at ISZL?
The fact that everyone left to such different places has made it hard to keep in contact with a lot of people. I’ve kept in contact regularly with about 4 or 5 of my closest friends. The summer holidays always bring an influx of people back home to Switzerland. Every year I can reconnect with a lot of old friends and try to start maintaining more regular contact with them.
What is one of your best days during your time at the school?
The everyday-fun I had with my friends are the fondest memories – playing football on the Hardplatz, going to Zug during free periods, messing around in class and other comedies.
I really enjoyed doing the Personal Projects in MYP 4, if I remember correctly. It was the first time we were allowed complete freedom to choose a topic we could work on. I chose architecture and to this day it is still my favourite assignment. Even though I didn’t go into architecture, I am still interested in the subject a lot.
Can you share something about yourself that would surprise most people?
There’s not really much mystery around me, but I suppose that the fact I am planning on becoming independent in the agricultural industry may be surprising. It remains to be seen if I actually do, but back in my Riverside days I never thought I would want to become a farmer.
What do you mean by becoming a farmer?
I want to grow crops in greenhouses year-round, which would reduce the costly need for transporting food halfway around the world. My goal is to keep it as natural as possible using only biological fertilizers and natural supplies. It would basically be an eco-friendly greenhouse that has the goal of covering domestic consumption for fresh produce.
I think it’s nonsensical to transport produce from far distances that must partly finish growing / maturing during transport. Also, there is no way of knowing where the produce comes from or how it was produced. It would resonate better with customers if they knew how and where their produce was grown. Sometimes even bio-farms are located next to roads that simply cannot be healthy. If plants were protected from the external environment, a much healthier, cleaner fruit would result.
How does the current High School compare to the villa you studied in at The Riverside School?
I think the old Riverside villa had a lot of character. It was in such a representative and beautiful location that it would be almost impossible to find such a site again. However, the functionality and size were downsides and going by bus to a gym somewhere in Zug for just one hour of PE was really inconvenient. It was simply not designed to be a school or to offer the functionality that a school requires. When I saw the new campus I was amazed at how big and spacious everything was with such amazing design everywhere. I think it has lost a bit of its character and charm, but it is now an excellent school building that offers all the things that students need (a large gym, outdoor programmes, large and functional science labs, etc.) to excel in their development.