People from Luxembourg are quite familiar with the country’s discreet approach when it comes to blowing its own trumpet at the global scale. Despite its relatively small geographic print, the Grand Duchy punches well above its weight on the world stage!
This podcast is here to shed light on Luxembourg’s global influence from the perspective of two Luxembourgers living in London.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Rolf Sorg, Founder and CEO at PM International, to the show. An entrepreneur running a multi-billion dollar revenue business across the globe, Rolf discusses the genesis of his direct sales company in the early 90's after dropping out of university in Germany. He then explains why nutritional supplement products, PM International's flagship product suite, were less popular more than 20 years ago, and how the market pivoted towards a healthier lifexstyle, especially during the pandemic. They further dive into the international success that Rolf's business has achieved thanks to the Luxembourg ecosystem. Finally, Rolf extensively enumerates the benefits of choosing the Grand Duchy for personal and, of course, professional reasons.
Adrien welcomes Fernand Ernster, CEO at Librairie Ernster, to the show. A very acute entrepreneur running an established bookstore brand in Luxembourg, Fernand walks Adrien through the family business history and how it's grown over generations for more than 100 years. Adrien then enquires about the secret ingredients for a brick and mortar bookseller to stay competitive at times when digital marketplaces, such as Amazon, gain a bigger market share in the bookselling business. Before talking about the importance of language diversity in a multilingual country like Luxembourg, Fernand discusses the concept of anchor stores and how businesses like his have turned into an essential frequency bringer in shopping malls. As a key representative of the local economy, Fernand finally provides his views on how he would change Luxembourg if he was given the opportunity to do so.
Thierry welcomes Malik Zeniti, Director at the Cluster for Logistics in Luxembourg (C4L), to the show. Dubbed "Mr Logistics of Luxembourg", Malik walks Thierry through his time at DuPont, a global US chemicals company, and how this enriching experience laid the foundation for his passion in logistics. They then discuss the C4L's mission and how the whole supply chain ecosystem operates in a landlocked country with great ambitions. Subsequently, Malik emphasises on one of Luxembourg's biggest assets, namely Cargolux, a leading air cargo company which services all the continents with its important Boeing 747 fleet. Finally, they discuss the environmental impact of the logistics sector and how C4L members have been actively reducing their carbon footprint thanks to initiatives such as the Lean & Green programme.
Adrien welcomes Enrique Sacau, CEO at Kneip, to the show. They discuss Kneip's role in the Luxembourg ecosystem and how it has been discreetly acting behind the scenes whilst servicing asset managers globally. Enrique then walks Adrien through the importance of being deliberate in the workplace in the context of diversity and inclusion, which goes beyond practices many businesses have adopted so far. Having recently started influencing the company culture, Enrique further dives into the intricacies of such an initiative and how all the stakeholders can contribute to this.
Thierry welcomes Rachel Kent, Partner at Hogan Lovells in London, and Pierre Reuter, Managing Partner at Hogan Lovells Luxembourg, to LuxUnplugged. At a time when a lot of businesses are re-evaluating their strategy when it comes to operating from the UK, Thierry enquires about the decision of Hogan Lovells, a global law firm, to open a new office in Dublin. Then, Rachel and Pierre debate the key advantages of their respective jurisdictions from a regulatory standpoint and how, in a Brexit context, they see London and Luxembourg cementing their links whilst Europe competes for more business leaving the UK. Named as one of the most influential women in European finance, Rachel then walks them through the key innovation initiatives that she's championing in the UK FinTech space in order to retain its global competitive edge (e.g. Kalifa review). Finally, Pierre and Rachel discuss the hot topic of talent acquisition in a world where working from cheaper locations is now widely accepted after the pandemic outbreak.
Adrien welcomes Alberto Dalmasso, CEO and co-founder of Satispay, to the show. They discuss the genesis of Satispay, an Italian electronic money institution, and how Alberto and his co-founders came up with an idea aimed at solving the high transactional cost problems for merchants to process small payments, whilst encouraging end consumers to use their phones to facilitate transactions as opposed to cash. A highly driven entrepreneur, Alberto also walks Adrien through the company's ambitions to disrupt payment systems in other Eurozone countries as they exhibit the same cash payment patterns as Italy. Then, they dive into the whole thought process that led Satispay to choose Luxembourg as their gateway to Europe, most notably due to the country's highly multicultural attributes and the regulator's pragmatic approach towards accommodating the needs of tech companies. Finally, Alberto extensively analyses the positive effects that the covid-19 pandemic has brought to Satispay and how the brick and mortar merchant ecosystem has adapted in order to service their clientele during lockdowns.
Thierry and Adrien welcome back Steve Collar, CEO at SES, to the show. In this timely follow-up conversation, Steve discusses the huge importance of connectivity in a world where a great number of people have been separated from their loved ones due to Covid-19. Also, he talks about the increase in demand for linear broadcasting (i.e. continuous content streaming) from public broadcasters, especially in Europe, and its root causes. Finally, they touch on SES' longer term innovation projects and the overall outlook for the space industry in Luxembourg.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Luc Provost, CEO at B Medical Systems, to the show. After discussing the recent history of his company following the management buyout, Luc dives into the enormous success he's recently experienced since the first Covid-19 vaccine announcement. He discusses the importance of having an optimised cold chain distribution in light of the disruption that the pandemic has caused for more than a year. They also talk about the different government response across Europe, and how Luxembourg has distinguished itself by handling the situation very early on. Finally, Luc tells them why Europe needs to bring back manufacturing closer to home and reduce its reliance on the Far East.
Adrien welcomes back Jacques Pütz, CEO of LUXHUB, to the show. In this follow-up conversation, they briefly discuss the exponential growth that LUXHUB has enjoyed over the last year as banks consuming its services are slowly embracing the benefits of cost mutualisation. In the same vein, Jacques also talks about the strategic partnership established with SIX, the Swiss financial infrastructure provider, and what it entails for the company and its European ambitions. And then, Jacques looks back at Luxembourg's efforts to make the local ecosystem attractive to Fintech companies and, more importantly, how it could further enhance it in a constructive and productive way.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Joe Hoffmann, COO at 4Elements Esports and President of the Luxembourg Esports Federation, to the show. A highly driven esports practitioner, Joe explains how the fastest growing online industry has evolved over the last few years in a global context. Then, he walks them through the launch of Forward with his brother to accelerate the promotion of esports in Luxembourg where the government is still reluctant to recognise this industry as a sports discipline in its own right. After highlighting the differences between a regular gamer and an esports athlete, Joe passionately emphasises on the commercial benefits that prospective companies can derive from partnering with esports organisations. Finally, he lays out the outlook for 2021 and his plans for 4Elements Esports in the future.
Adrien welcomes Stéphane Pesch, CEO at the Luxembourg Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (LPEA), to the show. In the context of the growing influence that the private equity (PE) industry exerts in Luxembourg, they discuss the role of the LPEA in underpinning this trend. A strong ESG proponent, Stéphane walks Adrien through the various initiatives that the LPEA has launched to help its members keep up with the recent requirements. Also, they talk about how the LPEA vividly promotes greater diversity in private equity, which is mainly male dominated. Finally, they explore options pertaining to opening up PE investment opportunities to smaller retail investors who normally don't get access to this more exclusive asset xlcass.
Thierry welcomes Pierre Thein, Director at the Hein Group, to the show. A seasoned ambassador of the Luxembourg industry, Pierre talks about how the Hein Group, a state-of-the-art oven manufacturer, has successfully expanded its brand and reputation beyond Luxembourg since 1882, the year in which the company was founded. He then discusses the key ingredients for an industrial company to thrive in a highly competitive global environment, especially in Luxembourg which is predominantly a service-driven economy. Thierry also enquires about the importance of the "Made in Luxembourg" label where Pierre walks him through the latest evolution of the nation branding efforts made by the government. Finally, he weighs the pros and cons of making the Luxembourg industrial space more attractive to young talent and how to achieve this.
After a very successful year, Thierry and Adrien get together to look back at 2020. They discuss how they adapted to new conditions linked to the pandemic and how they maintained the pace given their high ambitions for the podcast. Finally, they talk about the outlook for 2021 and set new objectives for the coming months.
Thierry welcomes Oliver Schimek, CEO and Founder at CrossLend, to the show. As the CEO of a leading FinTech company in Europe, Oliver provides further clarifications on the company's Luxembourg branch after misreports in the media. They discuss the impact of covid-19 on working from home and the likely effects that are going to be felt in the coming months and years. Oliver then dives into the importance of letting companies with an unsuccessful business model fail quickly to allow the innovation process to kick in. Finally, he shares his insights into the differences between investor risk appetite in the US and Europe and how Europe should change its stance to create European market leaders.
Thierry welcomes Kevin Muller, Founder and CEO at Passbolt, to LuxUnplugged. They discuss the genesis of Kevin's idea back in India when he kicked off his career after university. Then they talk about how a free open-source platform for password management turned into a monetisable concept over time with an element of serendipity. Finally, Kevin passionately describes his experience within the Luxembourg-based acceleration programme, Fit4Start, which allowed his start-up to fast-track its journey.
Adrien welcomes back Marc Serres, CEO at the Luxembourg Space Agency. They look back at the major events that have further shaped Luxembourg's mission to establish the space sector as the next key pillar of the local economy. More importantly, Marc discusses the importance of the Artemis Accords that the grand duchy has recently signed with other major international players in the space industry and what it means for their flagship program, the spaceresources.lu initiative.
Adrien welcomes Georges Berscheid, CTO at Finologee, to LuxUnplugged. They discuss the role of RegTech firms in a context of increasing regulations and how this pans out for Luxembourg more specifically. Also, Georges shares his view on the importance of automating processes, such as digital on-boarding, in a seamless and reliable way. Finally, he extensively talks about the benefits the Luxembourg market offers and how the local ecosystem can position itself as a main hub in the regulatory space.
Adrien welcomes Serge Krancenblum, Executive Chairman at IQ-EQ, to LuxUnplugged. They discuss how IQ-EQ has become one of the leading investor services companies in the world. Serge also explains how the local ecosystem has evolved over the past decades and how his group has shaped the economy all along the way. Finally, they talk about the key institutions ensuring Luxembourg stays ahead of the game.
Thierry welcomes Alexander Tkachenko, Founder and Managing Partner at 2be.lu, to LuxUnplugged. They discuss how Alexander carved out his niche when setting up his venture capital firm. He also provides his insights into the early stage investment space and how the pandemic is likely to shape the world and its related trends. Finally, they talk about the merits of the Luxembourg ecosystem and the government's efforts to attract start-ups to the Grand Duchy.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Marie Louise Ashworth, President at The Network, to LuxUnplugged. They discuss the importance of having women-only clubs and how such environments can greatly enhance professional opportunities and promote better values. An impassioned feminist, Marie Louise walks them through the principles underpinning The Network and how her association supports its members throughout their professional and personal journeys in Luxembourg. Finally, they also talk about the recent emergence of movements such as #MeToo and how society is evolving in relation to equality and diversity issues. (We apologise for the minor blips that occur throughout the recording which took place on a remote basis)
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Thierry and Adrien welcome back Kim Schumacher, Lecturer at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, to the LuxUnplugged Podcast. In the final episode of Season 1, they look back at the numerous changes in the ESG space that he's contributed to since appearing on the podcast more than a year ago. Also, Kim highlights how the latest covid-19 pandemic has accelerated a number of opportunities and what the latest developments have been so far.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Gérard Hoffmann, CEO at Proximus Luxembourg. They discuss how Luxembourg, like many other countries around the globe, rapidly adopted teleworking in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. After talking about the opportunities that arose from this radical shift, Gérard also highlights the unexpected demand for certain crucial services that his company has had to deliver. Finally, they touch upon the Luxembourg government's efforts to make the local economy more attractive to global ICT players, including the controversial Google data center project in the north of the country.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Patrick Kersten, founder and CEO at Doctena. They discuss medical online bookings in the context of the covid-19 crisis and the opportunities that have arisen as a result. Also, Patrick talks about his previous ventures and outlines the fundamental changes that the Luxembourg business ecosystem has undergone since he kick-started his entrepreneurial career in the early 2000's.
Thierry welcomes Mike Reiffers, Managing Director and co-founder of Skeeled. They discuss the genesis of Mike's company that he co-founded with his business partner straight after university. Then they dive into how this Luxembourg-based business leverages artificial intelligence, allowing his clients to make better hiring decisions whilst promoting their brand. Finally, Mike shares his tips for everyone aspiring to start up their company in the Grand Duchy.
Thierry welcomes Bert Boerman, CEO at Governance.com. They discuss how Bert and his brother, Rob, successfully built their RegTech business in the early days of the company despite strong resistance from the market. After exchanging on the outlook for the Luxembourg investment fund industry, they highlight the perks that Luxembourg offers to start up a company in the FinTech space.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Denise Voss, Chairwoman at the LuxFLAG agency. They first discuss how Luxembourg's role in the investment fund industry has evolved over the past decades. Then they dive into the agency's fundamental role to promote the Luxembourg ESG label worldwide on the back of the country's strong reputation in that field.
Adrien welcomes Françoise Thoma, CEO at Spuerkeess (BCEE). They discuss the strategy that the bank has adopted over the years to enhance its offering and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Furthermore, they dive into Spuerkeess' ambitions to champion the importance of corporate social responsibility and how this translates into the projects this leading bank financially supports.
Thierry welcomes Satellite Executive of the year for 2019, Steve Collar, CEO at SES. They discuss SES’ business model change since its inception in the 80’ and how it has become a leading satellite operator worldwide. After talking about fascinating projects that Steve particularly cares about, they further dive into the space ecosystem and Luxembourg’s perks.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Márton Fülöp, Chief Innovation Officer at Docler Holding. They discuss how this forward-looking business has come up with a very diverse and creative product line throughout its history. They also address the question of recruiting top tech talent, which has been a challenge for Luxembourg, before highlighting the numerous attributes that the Grand Duchy has offered to Márton's company.
Thierry welcomes Charles-Louis Machuron, founder at Silicon Luxembourg. They discuss the context in which Silicon Luxembourg has grown, this in tandem with the start-up scene in Luxembourg. Also, they talk about the entire ecosystem that the Grand Duchy offers to entrepreneurs and how they can leverage it.
Thierry welcomes Charlotte Pedersen, CEO at Luxaviation Helicopters. They discuss the company's helicopter charter service specifically tailored to "VVIP" clients. They also talk about how Luxaviation Helicopters has gone global whilst operating from Luxembourg.
Adrien welcomes Jacques Pütz, CEO of LUXHUB.
They discuss the essential role of Luxhub in the context of banking and payments innovation as a result of further competition in the sector. They exchange on the benefits that European customers will enjoy thanks to greater disruption brought by service providers such as financial technology firms.
Adrien welcomes René Steinhaus, CEO at lux-Airport. They discuss the intricate links between Luxembourg's growth and the airport's development in recent years. They also touch on lux-Airport's initiatives in the environmental space and how the organisation intends to curb its carbon footprint.
Adrien welcomes Nicolas Mackel, CEO at Luxembourg for Finance. They discuss Luxembourg in the context of global finance and its role in the various niches the country has operated in for several decades. They also talk about the outlook for the Luxembourg financial services industry.
Thierry and Adrien welcome HMA John Marshall, UK Ambassador to Luxembourg. They discuss the opportunities for the UK and Luxembourg in a Brexit context, as well as his views on the Grand Duchy. Recorded on 20 September 2019.
Note: we apologise for the background noise which is due to road works by the Ambassador's residence.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Alex Lawrence, Managing Director at CrossLend, Sàrl. They discuss CrossLend's mission and its ambition to disrupt the European debt market thanks to digitalisation. They also talk about how this start-up has benefited from Luxembourg's supportive framework and how the country has attracted more talent from abroad.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Marc Serres, CEO of the Luxembourg Space Agency. They discuss Luxembourg's ambition to promote the next key pillar of the country's economy. They also talk about the opportunities that the newly created framework offers to participants in the space ecosystem.
Thierry and Adrien welcome Kim Schumacher, researcher at Oxford University and Consultant to the Luxembourg Government in sustainability matters. They discuss the role and plans of Luxembourg in fields such as sustainable finance and other topics.