Employees - April 2023

The smooth handover of the baton

Bow career at Geberit

Steadily upwards - then retired. In this way, along with a manager, a lot of specialist knowledge also retires abruptly. With the so-called “bow career“, Geberit offers an alternative that only knows winners.

Even a “win-win“ solution for two parties is a feat. But Mauro Sonderegger and Urs Rüegg put a solution into practice that makes all three parties winners at once.

Just over a year ago, Urs Rüegg, Head of Product Engineering at Geberit for 25 years, decided to hand over his management function to a colleague from his team who was 20 years younger. “At that time, it became apparent that three people from our team of five would soon be leaving due to age. It was important to me to ensure continuity and knowledge transfer in our department,“ he recalls. Supported by his supervisor and HR, he and his successor, Mauro Sonderegger, swapped roles: From then on, Urs Rüegg concentrated on the tasks of the development engineer, and Mauro Sonderegger took over Urs' management function. Urs Rüegg will provide his successor with advice and support for a total of two years. Then the “passing of the baton“ is complete.

Like a relay race
“It is indeed a handover of the baton. Like in a relay race, it is easier the better it is practised,“ says Mauro Sonderegger, who is sitting next to his former supervisor and current employee on this wintry afternoon. “I benefit enormously from the know-how Urs had built up, also from his network.“ “In turn, I have the certainty that the knowledge will not be lost,“ adds Urs Rüegg. “It is important to me to be able to conclude everything well. After all, I worked for Geberit for a total of 39 years.“

"I benefit enormously from the know-how Urs had built up, also from his network."
Mauro Sonderegger, Head of Product Engineering, Rapperswil-Jona (CH)

Culture of diversity and promotion
The third party to benefit from this succession arrangement is Geberit. Like many other companies, Geberit is facing the challenge of replacing the baby boomers who will retire from the workforce in the next ten to fifteen years due to age - with a simultaneous shortage of skilled workers. “The bow career model therefore offers an attractive solution,“ confirms Vreni Schweizer, HR Business Partner at the Rapperswil-Jona site. “It makes it possible to build up successors in the long term.“ In addition, this form of talent development contributes to a relaxed, collegial relationship between the generations.

Urs and Mauro are not the only example of this model. At the Rapperswil-Jona site alone, there are currently four “bow couples“ working. The conclusion is extremely positive. Vreni Schweizer: “We would like to support all interested parties in considering this form of baton handover.“