Head of Skyguide since 2017, Alex Bristol values the team spirit of the company responsible for Swiss Air Traffic Control.

Source: Universum, Top 100, 2018

How do you encourage innovation in such a highly regulated sector?
At Skyguide, we are going through a very exciting phase: we are currently designing the shape of our future! Most of the changes are linked to technological progress. At present, for example, we’re working on a cutting-edge project with the goal of “virtualising” our Geneva and Zurich centres. For the first time, it will be possible to control air traffic independently of the location! However, technology is not the only driver of innovation; it’s the ideas of our employees that make the difference. This is why we accord them a lot of freedom and encourage them to test and experiment.

How do you meet these challenges?
At Skyguide, decisions often have to be made instantly. And actions are performed directly in the service areas, not only at the level of management. As a result, teamworking is essential. Even under pressure, there is solidarity within the teams and mutual help is always available. Our employees exchange information continuously, which welds our teams together. My mission is to ensure the best conditions exist, so that the various activities can be performed as easily and efficiently as possible.

“Even under pressure, there is solidarity within the teams and mutual help is always available.”


How do you personally manage the pressure during particularly intense periods?
Before becoming an Air Traffic Controller (ATC), I was a teacher. Actually, standing in front of a difficult class seemed a lot more difficult (laughs). To become an ATC, I benefited from excellent specialist training. Later, by taking on more responsibility, I learned to trust my colleagues. Logically, continuous training is a given in my view. Moreover, if one is resistant to change, only stress can result. On a more practical level, I switch off when I get home in the evening: I go walking in the mountains, recharging my batteries in nature, I play football with my son, and enjoy nice moments in the company of my family and friends.

How would you describe your company culture?
We provide a very important service, which requires an absolute reliability. This is why our experts have the necessary competencies to act independently and take strategic decisions. Another key aspect is our “Just Culture” philosophy: we look at incidents as opportunities for learning, to improve ourselves constantly, and to increase safety.

What motivates you as CEO?
My work is very rewarding. It has everything I like: strategic thinking and decision making. There’s nothing better then knowing that if I reach my objectives, a lot of people will benefit.