Women who inspire International Women's Day

Meet three dynamic women who help make Victorinox successful

The women within the Victorinox team are an important part of what drives us all. They contribute their spirit, they master the broad dimensions of the company, they have global influence on the popularity of our brand around the world. Here are just three of the women who provide Victorinox with the energy to achieve our goals.

Strength & Power: Apprentice Cutler Karin Ulrich

Karin has always been happiest when she’s doing a job that’s creative and physically demanding, where she can see a result at the end of the day. Growing up on a local farm, hard work comes naturally to her. Which is why she’s perfect as one of our two cutler apprentices – who both happen to be women. When she graduates, Karin will be a master cutler, an expert in the whole process of making knives.

For her final exam, Karin is making a replica of the first Victorinox farmer’s pocket knife from the turn of the 20th century. All by hand, every single multifunctional part, from steel blades and springs to the wooden scales. It will literally be her masterpiece.

Why take so long to learn to make something manually, when it’s much quicker by machine? “Because tradition is important,” says Karin. “We need to remember and understand how things are made by hand. I value the work and craftsmanship that goes into a knife and have a lot of respect for it.”

Since it is International Women’s Day: Does she feel being a woman is an asset in the factory? “That’s not really an issue,” Karin says. “All you need to be is committed to your work, to like the physicality and pull your own weight.”

There are fewer and fewer cutlers in Switzerland. This is why it’s important to us that this apprenticeship remains on offer at Victorinox. It’s the job that started the company, this exceptional expertise where our tradition began, and it has taken us so far in the last 138 years. Thanks to talented apprentices like Karin Ulrich, we can make sure the tradition continues.

Dimensions of the Company: Vice President of Corporate
Markets in North America Annette Jensen

Annette has been with Victorinox for over 25 years. She is responsible for a team that is so devoted that they nominated her as one of Promotional Products Association International’s “10 Best Bosses” in the industry – an award that she won. Her reaction? “It was an honor to be recognized. My team has a shared passion for what we do and similarly, we share our successes.”

We asked her position on leadership. “While my role on the team is to set direction, a good leader embraces the unique experience each team member brings to the table. I listen to and trust my people to guide that direction. We all have an opportunity to inspire one another to reach for more – and personal knowledge can be that springboard. Within the corporate gifts workplace, women are in the majority, perhaps because we have a good understanding of what we want, but also what makes everyone happy. Over the years I’ve worked together with the whole team to incorporate that knowledge, to refine our sense for choosing that gift which hits the right spot for all kinds of people.”

While we’ve got her: Does she have a favorite among all the Victorinox products? She laughs. “27 years ago, I wasn’t thinking I would ever need a Swiss Army Knife. Now I can’t imagine being without one. I’ve kept one with me since the day I started at Victorinox and only use its tweezers instead of regular ones.”

“Victorinox is an amazing company to work for,” Annette adds. “It has built its success on integrity.”

Global Influence: Chief Marketing Officer Veronika Elsener

Veronika Elsener has held various positions within the company over 25 years. Since 2009, when the focus was still on manufacturing, she has driven the development of brand management and as Chief Marketing Officer is responsible for global brand communication.

We asked Mrs. Elsener what International Women’s Day means to her as part of the committed family behind Victorinox. “It draws attention to the fact that women can contribute a great deal to the further development of society. Thanks to our strengths and our ability to look at things as whole, we can make a special contribution.” And which of her own strengths have helped her along the way? “My love of creativity, a healthy curiosity, finding joy in learning and a willingness to try out new things have certainly been an asset in this world of consistent change.”

What kind of future does Veronika Elsener hope to see for her own daughters? “It’s important to teach my children as much as I can, but at the end of the day it should be their own choice. There are different tracks women can take – not at the same time; you have to think in phases, be flexible and open – but they definitely have more options today.” Being brave and making new experiences is important in life. Trying until it feels right. And what felt right yesterday might not necessarily feel right today. “You have to look at life as a journey and embrace it.”

Mrs. Elsener has always supported women within Victorinox. “I strive to make sure we are family-friendly, so that both parents can help each other create and sustain their family in keeping with Victorinox’s company values.”