Au revoir, Switzerland: Reflecting on our experience

Friday, May 17, 2024
by Aaris, Delaney, Marco, Shakthika (AFM Students)
SAF's International Study Course students in Switzerland at Mount Rigi.

As the lucky students who recently travelled to Switzerland for the winter School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) 2024 International Study Course trip, we are reflecting on and sharing our once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The main priority of the trip was to meet with companies and business professionals, but we also got the chance to experience Swiss culture and visit many exciting spots. Some of the highlights included visiting the Lindt Home of Chocolate in Zurich, Mount Rigi near Lucerne, and visiting the tallest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc.

Business Meetings

How did we prepare?

A high degree of preparation was involved to ensure that we got the most out of our meetings. For each company that we visited, a student was responsible for preparing our group by giving a presentation that included what the company does, some current key news items, and topics that we should focus on during the Q&A periods. Asking good questions and understanding the businesses were critical aspects for ensuring the success of each meeting.

Having students on the trip from different programs within SAF, such as Computing and Financial Management and Biotech/CPA, was particularly helpful as they taught us about concepts related to pharmaceuticals and artificial intelligence which proved helpful during our meetings.

Companies Visited

Throughout the trip, we had 15 meetings. The companies we met with were from a diverse range of industries, including:

Financial services:

  • Julius Baer
  • LGT
  • Amundi Alpha Associates
  • Zurich Insurance Group
  • Boston Consulting Group Switzerland

Software companies:

  • Ansys Switzerland
  • DeepJudge AI

Intergovernmental organizations:

  • United Nations
  • International Labor Organization
  • Canadian Embassy

And more such as:

  • Ypsomed
  • The Global Fund
  • Jacques Bogh
  • Geneva Airport
  • CERN

Meeting such a unique set of companies not only sharpened our knowledge of accounting and finance, but also exposed us to areas that we were not as familiar with such as international relations and scientific research. These opportunities are an excellent way to help any student develop their interests because of the opportunity to speak with so many interesting people who are happy to answer questions about their career paths.

For example, many of us on the trip have developed an interest in wealth management after having the chance to speak with professionals from companies such as Julius Baer and LGT.

Insights & Takeaways

Throughout the trip, we gained a lot of insight by listening and asking questions. A key theme that arose throughout our time in Switzerland was the focus on Environment, Social, & Governance (ESG) criteria. Switzerland is known for its focus on sustainability and renewable energy, but the companies we met also emphasized the importance of social equality.

Another key theme we noticed throughout our trip was the importance of trust, especially in any business that offers financial services. Switzerland has a very large wealth management industry and the businesses we met underscored the importance of gaining client trust in order to ensure financial success.


The International Study Course is not only a great way to develop valuable skills to aid in your professional development but also to forge lifelong connections. We would highly recommend all current and future SAF students participate in the International Study Trip!

We would like to offer a special thank you to professor Steve Balaban, our teaching assistant Echo Chen and alumni development officer Victoria Hinde for their hard work in not only making this trip possible, but also for their guidance in ensuring that everything ran smoothly.

The trip was something that we will never forget!