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Katrin J. Yuan | Multilingual executive, management leader, & Council and board member

Katrin Yuan is a down-to-earth, multilingual and talented Zurich-based executive leader. During our chat, we found her passion for female empowerment to be admirable. In this interview, she shares what drives her to be the person she is.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Start early and go one step further than others do or than you are used to. You are the ultimate chief producer of your life. Start early and don't fear failing. In the 10s grow up. In the 20s try what you have always wanted to do. Try, test, fail, and learn. The earlier we try, test, fail, and learn the more successful we will become in the later stages of life. Failures are allowed if you don't make the same failure twice. Be thoughtful with your most valuable resource: time. Dare to dream big and follow your intuition. Dare to accept the consequences. Great freedom comes with great responsibility. Dare to ask for more and most of all: Believe in yourself as if nobody else does. Don't try to blend in, be yourself and be exceptional. Create an environment where you can thrive and grow.

What is one thing that inspires you? Challenges. There were people along the way who told me I can't. The sky is the limit and anything is possible if you are willing and consequential to go your path. Who tells you that you cannot do something except yourself? Inspiration comes in many forms and has many faces. Stay curious, stay open, and grow with every experience you make. Condition your mind, open up. Be an inspiration to others, and get inspired by others. Surround yourself with an extraordinary environment where you can live up to the version of yourself you want to become. Not the strongest, biggest, oldest, and most established but the ones with the ability to adapt, innovate, and reinvent will outperform the others, survive, and sustain.

What is an urgent issue facing education? Kids and young adults should get educated in finance and tech to become financially literate and technologically literate. Both are not taught in the basic school curriculum. This is one of many reasons I am grateful to give back as a university lecturer in tech and leadership, and as a financial lecturer to my students in financial education. Start, learn, invest, and build up your portfolio from early years on. I am grateful to give back as a Jury Member and Mentor of Herhack, the largest female Hackathon in Switzerland. It is relevant to raise awareness on these topics because advantages and disadvantages start early and accumulate over a lifetime. You are not responsible for where you were born, but you are responsible and can make the best out of the given resources from where you stand now. For that young people need to be aware of their potential and options.

What drives you to give back? There are not enough young female diverse role models visible. It makes me feel good to volunteer and contribute to causes that I think are relevant to make diverse faces and diverse success stories visible to a larger audience. If you only change one other life, providing a path to success for someone else, and see the reaction it causes, it gives you so much back. It is part of being human not only to receive but to give back. There are things in life that are worth being committed to beyond borders. We rise by lifting others. Build the right network. Surround yourself with people who already made it in whatever you want to become. Ask how they have made it, learn, and then build it into your own path. I support a corporate culture that empowers people to grow and thrive to their best version.

What gives you fulfillment in life? I am thankful to be able to execute my different roles as a board member, executive leader, jury member, founder, investor, keynote speaker, and university lecturer. People think I am an extrovert but in private I am an introvert. My quiet time fulfills me, reading, listening to podcasts, and observing people. I also love to express my creativity, innovation, and imagination when composing pieces on the piano. I can play for hours without repetition and sink into my own world. Body and mind are an entity to exercise. Doing meditation or doing sports in nature are fulfilling things next to my work, where I am 100% committed to what I do. Trust your people, empower, and enable them to thrive in a diverse environment to live the best version of themselves. Hire the best people. As a leader, I hire people who know more than I do and who do a better job in their specific areas. It gives me fulfillment to build something great together, empower my teams, and see the growth.

CEO Panel in German

Keynote in English


1000 Spotlights: Why We Give reflects our mission of giving back, to mentor and to inspire those around us. Through a series of interview questions, we explore intrinsic motivations behind why we give, and talk with those inclined to make a difference in the lives of others. If you are involved in charitable activities, volunteer and paid academic engagements or in community service, we want to talk to you.

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