We are Swisscom.
Yvan Cainzos, Head of System and Application Operations, Lausanne
“I enjoy advising my customers and going the extra mile for them.”
The swing of a golf club is made up of a complex sequence of movements. Success hinges on several factors including body posture, the choice of club, how you hold the iron and hit the ball. Exactly the same goes for my job. I have to take into account several factors to give customers the optimum support and offer them the best solution. I’m very lucky to have a team of fifteen or so dedicated colleagues with a wide range of skills that equip them to address the needs associated with the world of business apps. We support business customers who entrust Swisscom with managing their applications and related operational processes. What do I love most about my job? The diversity of fields in which my customers are involved. Engaging with other professional areas is an enriching experience. Nowadays, I encourage my team to show their entrepreneurial spirit and take their own decisions so each of them can realise their full potential.
Alexander Kämpf, ICT Service Operation Manager, Bern
“Emergencies are part of the spice of life.”
In the department I work in, there's a sense of optimism right now. We are dealing with special ICT services for business customers. I juggle resources, make sure the right people are in the right place, and keep track of things. In my spare time I have been training for my private helicopter pilot’s license. Since then I have become more flexible in my thinking. I am more daring and just go for things. The training also covers how to deal with dangerous situations. Of course, I really hope that I will never experience that when I fly in reality. In the office, on the other hand, I appreciate “emergencies”, such as the positive stress when we want to win a new project. My dream is to fly a Super Puma - the Swiss military helicopter; it fascinates me in terms of its size and technology.
Edwin Ramirez Garcia, Marketing Assistant, Zurich
“I like to raise awareness through humour.”
Being in a wheelchair, people can be unsure of how to interact with me. When I am out and about with a colleague, most people assume I am with a carer – and talk about me in the third person. At some point, I realised that there's humour in these experiences, good or bad, and that I can make people laugh when recounting them. Today, stand-up comedy is my biggest passion outside of work. Through comedy, I can highlight important issues and so break down barriers. Being on stage also gives me an outlet – a way of letting off steam. After the show, people will often come up to me and say things like “oh, I never really thought about that” and some even thank me. My job at Swisscom also gives me an opportunity to play to my strengths and continue my personal development. I recently started writing an internal marketing blog to report on the success of our actions and the colleagues in my team. Since taking up stand-up comedy, I really feel that I have grown as a person.
Sonia Reimelt, Test Manager, Bern
“The first programmer was a woman.”
Who gives girls a robot or Lego Technic for Christmas? It’s such a shame that toy departments are segregated so clearly into “boys” and “girls”. When I provided a robotics course on a volunteer basis at my local primary school, the children were impressed by the fact that the first programmer was a woman. However, many girls today have no idea whether they are good at programming or whether they would enjoy it. In my work as a software tester, I describe myself as a “play professional” in a test environment. I am a very inquisitive person and I want to know how things work and then test out what can go wrong for the customer. It’s exactly this sort of curiosity that I want to awaken in children: They ought to be encouraged to come up with an idea and then put it into practice, by programming for example. They just need to give it a try.
Severin Studt, Operational Process Manager, Chur
“We are Swisscom’s guardian angels.”
Our motto in the team of emergency response officers in Chur is “no cardiac arrests”. I've been doing this for eight years. I acquired my medical knowledge when I was in the military. Being part of the emergency response team is incredibly important to me. We are all volunteers and do it alongside our normal job. It’s not always easy to balance the two roles and people can take a lot of persuading. To switch off from work, I like to spend time in the great outdoors. I relax and unwind in my vegetable patch and recharge my batteries. I have seen some serious medical emergencies in my 8 years. When something happens, I stay completely calm. I then know exactly what needs to be done. I keep all the procedures in my head and I go through them step by step. Discretion is very important for those involved. No-one wants to show their weaknesses, do they? I always say that we are Swisscom’s silent guardian angels.
Sajeeban Chandresegaran, sport and commerce apprentice, Düdingen
“My goal: to be a professional dancer.”
Dancing has been my great passion for the past three and a half years. In a few years, I would like to tour with a singer, ideally the rapper Drake. You can’t work as a dancer forever, though, so I feel it is important to get a good apprenticeship qualification first. My commercial apprenticeship at Swisscom lasts four years – I am in a special class that combines an apprenticeship with sport and work five hours a day, which gives me time to dance. I am currently working in the Swisscom Shop and am among the top 10 sales assistants in the Bern region. In my free time, I have an intensive training schedule and also teach children and organise dance shows now and again. It’s a lot. But I have the goal of becoming a professional dancer firmly in my sights. Soon I'll be taking lessons at Urban Dance Camp with the world's best dance teachers – my sister came up with the idea of crowdfunding to allow me to take part. It worked!
Thomas Müller, Public Communications Manager, Bern
"The trip of a lifetime"
I will retire this year. I was the first Regulatory Affairs Manager at Swisscom (and at PTT), I was Swisscom’s representative in international organisations and I compiled dossiers for politicians and associations. The next generation is now taking on that mantel. Young people are our future. I have been delighted to work on their behalf in my private life: I’ve been coordinating an educational visit to the UNO in New York for the independent Order of “Odd Fellows Switzerland” for 15 years. To qualify, high-school students have to write an essay in English on a UN topic and then have an interview. The 10 best applicants – irrespective of their gender and background – are given the opportunity to experience the UN in person, an organisation working for world peace, tolerance and human rights, alongside 300 other young people from the US, Canada and Europe. What happens to these young people during that two weeks has a really profound effect on me. They don’t know each other and yet they help each other straight away and become friends, often friends for life.
Giorgio Macaluso, Media Trainer, Bern
“Nature and technology really are a match made in heaven.”
Piling up mobile phones is a classic example. Before eating, each member of the family puts their mobile phone in a pile, one on top of the other. The first to reach for their phone has to do the washing up. These are the types of tips that I give parents during my media courses. My job is really exciting. Keeping bees gives me my balance. Thanks to bees, I approach life differently. Why not let a wildflower meadow grow instead of mowing the lawn? My three beehive boxes are located at the Swisscom Group Headquarters in Worblaufen. The honey is a great spin-off. I’d now like to inspire other employees to get involved with beekeeping. The Internet of Things will soon let us watch the bees in the hive and weigh them automatically. The natural and technological worlds really are a match made in heaven – that’s something else that I tell people during my media courses.
Tiziana Conzett, Trainee EFZ Network Electrician, Trimmis
“I don't like just sitting around.”
I have always wanted to do something in the electrical field. I’ll soon be the first female qualified EFZ network electrician (the Swiss Federal Proficiency certificate). At cablex, I’m just another member of the team, but I sometimes get some funny looks when I first arrive on site. What do I like about my job? No two days are the same. I’m outside a lot and I get to know places that I’d never heard of. I like being busy when I’m not at work too: going swimming with my boyfriend, skiing, hiking. People think I’m shy when they first meet me. But I’m also upbeat and can get annoyed easily. If the pipe stacker doesn’t work one morning on site, it really annoys me. After I finish my training, I’m going to work in fibre optic welding. It’s such a fascinating technology.
Reto Wehrli, Software Developer, Zurich
“As a father, you wait until your time comes.”
A lot of people think software developers spend their lives programming codes. They don’t realise how creative the job actually is: you start with a problem. And to solve it, you can choose from a thousand options. It’s a bit like the signature of an artist, hidden in a program. The same goes for the way I dress my daughter. She doesn't mind whether she wears green or red trousers. Mothers and fathers can go two ways about achieving the same thing: in this dressing their daughter. Our daughter was born last year. Initially, I played second wheel, I was mainly responsible for the infrastructure. As a father, you wait until your time comes. At Swisscom I attended a crash course for fathers – out of curiosity, to see how other fathers were coping. Many change their mind after the birth about working from home and looking after a small child. I tend to be more pragmatic, I didn’t have many illusions. What I appreciate about Swisscom is that I’m the master of my time. So, if we have to go to the baby doctor, then we do.
Jean-Louis Monnet, Team Leader Customer Care, Sion
“Diversity is my everyday.”
I’ve lived in Ardon for more than 25 years and I have three children. I’m sporty and enjoy sharing my hobbies like skiing, biking and walking with my friends. I’m a local councillor in Ardon and team leader at Swisscom. My job in the community has let me build up a wide network in Valais canton and beyond. At Swisscom, I’ve also built up relationships with my colleagues and take part in different activities organised for us. When there is voting, I’ve occasionally hesitated over issues and I’ve often defended the company at important junctures. I stand by my choices and explain my position.
David Rossé, Corporate Responsibility Manager, Bern
"I want a world without barriers"
I am responsible for accessibility at Swisscom. I aim to make the digital world accessible to everyone with sensory impairments. This isn’t the case everywhere – and that also applies to Swisscom. I want to change that. It wasn’t easy in the beginning to find support for this issue. I had to explain what the problems were to a lot of colleagues. Accessibility is one of many requirements faced by product developers. So they have to set priorities. I take a pragmatic view though - even small improvements are already a great help to those affected. And that's what we do. Take Swisscom TV for instance. Positive feedback from people who have been affected encourages me and my colleagues. We need this energy, because there is still a lot to be done.
Michael Meister, Marketing Specialist, Bern
"At home, I'd be lost without chatbots."
The Japanese love robots. They think of them as human - and not simply a programmed device. I find chatbots fascinating. I am currently developing one at Swisscom for Skype for Business: I find it really exciting to be creating a type of cognitive being. At home, I'd be lost without chatbots - especially when communicating with my Japanese wife Kie and her family. We use Line messaging - the Asian WhatsApp - to translate English and Japanese for us in real time. I met my wife one and a half years ago during my language placement over there. Afterwards, we Facetimed one another every day, she in Fukuoka, me in Matzendorf; sometimes even sending each other to sleep. In Summer, Kie moved over here to live with me. We are finally together.
Penny Schiffer, Head of StartUp Initiatives, Zurich
“Patronise start-ups? It’s an absolute no-no.”
I’d never have discovered some start-ups without my network. I attend start-up conferences regularly and act as juror for competitions or use Twitter, where I now have 8000 followers. Just scouting for cool, tech-savvy hipsters and geeks doesn’t work. You need a talent for working out which start-ups and technologies might be an interesting business proposition for Swisscom. Take the following example: we were only able to implement our popular call filter for the fixed network thanks to a start-up from French-speaking Switzerland that took the blacklist and technology to the next level. Can Swisscom afford to take a patronising tone with start-ups? Absolutely not. Being on an equal footing is a must. It’s the only way to go to market as partners.
Philippe Douglas, Service Desk Quality Manager, Lausanne
"I began my career in the world of professional football."
I completed my compulsory school education up to high school before turning to the world of professional sport (football) when I was about 18. In 1989 I was alongside Stéphane Chapuisat on the pitch at Basel when Switzerland drew with Belgium 2:2. I completed my IT training in several IT colleges and institutions alongside my sport activities. My present job is Quality Manager (equivalent to a supervisor) at Swisscom. I’ve been in the IT sector for 15 years and I’ve always worked in Support. Thanks to my sport background, I’m well-equipped to deal with stress and communicate with people. Being productive and doing jobs according to my principles is what motivates me. Every new day brings its share of work, satisfaction and challenges.
Sonia Eterno, Head of Service Marketing, Zurich
“Balancing family, Swisscom and a start-up.”
My job share at Swisscom has a number of parallels with my home life – there’s always lots to be discussed, agreed and expertly coordinated. To work as efficiently as possible, therefore, I’d like to automate my tasks and integrate them in a workflow so that I no longer have to think about them. This inspired me to launch my own start-up, Shubidu AG: Shubidu is a family calendar app, where you can enter all the various activities and appointments of your family members, including children, grant access to other members of your family and share with other parents. My vision is for the app to simplify life for as many families as possible. I very much appreciate the fact that, thanks to job sharing and flexible working hours at Swisscom, I have been able to balance my family life, an interesting management role as well as a start-up. I have a great deal of passion for my work and am a naturally curious person. The more hats I am able to wear, the greater the sense of enrichment for me.
Daniel Frei, Head of Security Operations Center, Zurich
“My team is extremely important to me.”
The vast amounts of data that are circulating today naturally attract hackers. If hundreds of new files are suddenly created or deleted on a data repository all at once, you can be pretty certain that something fishy is going on – most likely the work of an encryption Trojan. Me and my team are responsible for protecting the systems of our business customers from such cyber security attacks. Swisscom has a unique position in the market, both operating and monitoring the network simultaneously. IT security is my passion: I have been working in this area for 25 years now. The reason I get so much pleasure from the job is largely down to my team. For me, the personalities of my team members are just as important as their training and expertise. Enthusiastic, curious and creative people are the perfect fit here.
Jamila Amini, DevOps Engineer, Zurich
“A second chance at life.”
I was forced to flee Afghanistan with my husband and daughter as the Taliban had threatened to kill us. Our arrival in Switzerland was like being reborn. In the first few months in the refugee camp, all we could do was wait and see as we had no status. I found that very tough. Then I heard about Powercoders – a programming bootcamp for refugees. I applied and was accepted. This was the point when my life changed completely. At the end of the bootcamp, I was given an internship at Swisscom, where I gained experience working as a developer. I had completed a bachelor’s degree in IT back in Kabul, but starting at Swisscom was still a challenge. I had previously worked as an IT teacher and was only familiar with program language as a theory. Fortunately, my lovely work colleagues helped me to integrate very quickly. They were very patient with me!
David Fleischlin, Analytics Consultant, Zurich
“There are no easy answers.”
I find technology fascinating. I like to fathom things out and am curious about how everything works. That’s why, after completing an apprenticeship as a civil engineering draughtsman, I did a degree in industrial engineering. Immediately following my degree, I joined Swisscom in a junior role in the databases department. I work in a consulting team developing analytics and big data solutions for corporate customers. SAP system integration is part of this. I am currently specialising in data management with SAP Business Warehouse and really value the fact that SAP maintains such a consistent focus on the end user. At Swisscom, I have access to a wealth of knowledge about all the SAP services. I find this particularly interesting as a junior employee!
Anna Stauber, Scrum Master, Bern
"I thrive on helping people develop their potential.”
Sometimes I feel like a superwoman: I work as Scrum Master, organise the Swisscom DevOpsWeek and support teams as a budding Agile Enabling Coach. In my free time, I bake plaited loaves, which I deliver by bike – long live the #breakfastculture! As a coach, I like to ask questions that spark something in people. I want to enable them to find their own answers. Agile working has not been implemented at Swisscom because it's the latest trend, but because the agile way of working and thinking is the best answer to our dynamic, complex world. Continuous feedback allows teams to develop from within, to improve and to respond faster to change. DevOpsWeek is an internal event run by and for IT engineers and anyone interested in agile transformation. It’s about communicating knowledge, learning from each other and networking.
Would you like a glimpse behind the scenes? Register for the evening event with Mary Poppendieck.
Laura Schnüriger, Data Analytics trainee, Bern
“I enjoy the challenge of finding solutions to complex problems.”
I have a doctorate in maths – however, after ten years at university, I really wanted to apply my knowledge and do something with it. I just wasn’t sure what area to go into. At the graduate fair, I visited the Swisscom stand, where I heard mention of artificial intelligence and I knew straight away: That’s it. I started as a trainee, which is giving me the opportunity to be involved in three different projects and gain knowledge in a targeted manner. I am currently working on automating e-mail triage for the corporate customer business with the aid of data science. I am a creative person and love knitting and juggling – as well as maths of course. As a trainee, I am personally responsible for the projects I work on, whether I look for a mentor and for finding a permanent position – it’s both a challenge and an opportunity.
Fatemeh Borran, Senior Data Scientist, Bern
“My motivation: To improve lives through technology.”
Sometimes, I feel like I’m working at a start-up. Here in Artificial Intelligence, we can give our creativity free reign and try out new things for Swisscom – it’s great. Our customers have long been able to send us questions by Chat and have them answered by call centre agents. The agents rely on our data science-based response templates, which both save time and allow them to swiftly present an appropriate solution. As a data scientist, besides writing concepts, I also program the code that is used in the live products. I am originally from Iran, where I had the opportunity at the age of 12 to take an algorithm course for girls – this was what inspired me to study computer science. I was 20 when I began my degree course in Lausanne. I think it is important for girls to come into contact with technology from an early age.
Peter Fritschi, engineer, Ittigen
“Our new measuring method is much more precise.”
I am one of Switzerland’s most experienced experts in the measurement of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. When our new method of measuring average values received negative media coverage, I was very hurt. The media statements are inaccurate: we are not manipulating anything – this is very important to me. The current method involves looking for a maximum value by hand. This is difficult to find and often difficult to replicate. The new method uses a robot. The robot measures around 80 points in the area to calculate the average value. This gives a more realistic representation, has a very good repetition rate and complies with international standards. I like figuring things out; I get to the bottom of things and give a lot of thought to possible implications. The Swiss author Max Frisch is a kindred spirit, and like me, he was an engineer. However, I’m also drawn to opposites, because they can spark new inspiration.
Edvin Caminada, service engineer, Zurich
“We’ll sort it out.”
That’s what I say to calm down even the most frustrated of customers, those with the reddest of faces and the loudest of voices. You know, sometimes it can take an hour, but it doesn’t matter, as long as I can help them, if they have a fault at home or at the office, a poor connection or their computer has a virus. Sometimes I get more than I bargained for! From time to time, customers invite me in for a cuppa and a chat. I am one of 450 Swisscom engineers. We visit an average of 2,100 customers per day. If you don’t like people, then you’re in the wrong job. We are the link between the customer and Swisscom. We show customers what they are getting from Swisscom – and feed back their complaints and compliments into the business.
Pirmin Egloff, Mobile Communications Field Service Engineer, Zurich
“We work while everyone else sleeps.”
Wherever there’s someone staring at their mobile, you can be sure that a Mobile Communications Field Service Engineer is just around the corner. Our job is everywhere: night and day, we ensure that mobile communications work as they should. We operate a total of 6,500 external antennae and provide mobile communications to buildings such as hospitals and hotels. When I wake up in the morning, I never know what the day will bring. One day, I’ll be looking for the cause of a fault from the dizzy heights of a mast. The next, I’ll be assembling a mobile communications unit for a local festival. Or I might be servicing one of the many hundreds of antennae at the main station in Zurich. Half a million people pass through the station every day. It’s my job to ensure that each and every one of them can work, make calls and surf using their mobile devices without disruption 24 hours a day. What do I like about Swisscom? That everything is in Switzerland: the data centres, the antennae and all of our knowledge.
Maja Schreiner, ICT Test Manager, Zurich
“I want to encourage young women to get into technical professions.”
When I was a child, I thought the Commodore 64 was the best thing ever. I was always really interested in technology. Later on, I wanted to study something with a future, so I chose business informatics. I come from Serbia where it is commonplace for women to choose technical professions. When I finished studying and arrived in Switzerland, I quickly realised that it's not the same here. It bothered me to be the only woman working on a project. That's what motivated me to set up an internal Swisscom community – Women in Tech & Lead. There are around 100 of us in the community, all women in technical professions. We establish networks, discuss ideas and raise our visibility at Swisscom. I look after the community in my free time. People are very important to me.
Marco Schlecht, Customer Consultant, St. Gallen
“I feel happy when I can help others.”
How do you put up with it? I get asked this question a lot. I work on the hotline and so I deal with faults all the time. It doesn’t bother me. In fact, on the contrary, I feel happy when I can help people. I’ve always been like that. When I was a teenager, I used to help my friends to assemble computers. It took quite a lot of hands-on work in those days. Nowadays, I can sort out a lot of things from the office. On a Friday afternoon recently, I took a call from a customer who owns a bar in St. Gallen. His POS wasn’t working. He was frantic because it was nearly the weekend. I guessed it was a fault with the router. It would have taken too long to send out a new router. So, I quickly hopped on my bike, rode to him and configured the router during my lunch break. The customer was over the moon and so was I.
Friederike Hoffmann, Head of Contract Management Billing Telco, Zurich
“You never know whether you can do it until you try.”
Precision and reliability are very important in our work – my department is responsible for Swisscom’s billing. We have just introduced software robots that are programmed by my staff. For the employees, this means streamlined working, training and greater job security rolled into one. I think in a very business-minded way and I like to take on enjoyable topics that will shape the future. As a learning partner, I support my team and give them the space to make their own contribution. Everyone can progress here. Five years ago, after finishing my doctorate, I joined Swisscom as a programme co-ordinator. I now manage more than 100 people. You never know whether you can do it until you try. Swisscom supported me and placed a lot of trust in me. I benefited from highly tailored coaching thanks to the internal talent programme that continues to support me today.
Justus Pfeiffer, Trainee and Work Smart Coach, Zurich
"I work when others are partying."
I’m a workaholic. While others are dancing and clubbing on Friday night, I’m working on my favourite project, the Zurkow Festival. It’s a start-up and cultural exchange between Switzerland and Poland. It began as an idea for a vocational college group project. But it sparked an ambitious streak in me. I wanted to prove that the idea could be put into practice. Now we’re an international team organising the festival for 1,500 people. It’s a great experience for me. I’ve learned how to deploy my personal resources effectively. I wouldn’t manage otherwise. I try to set an example at Swisscom as well. As a Work Smart Coach, I help other teams to improve their efficiency. You can achieve a lot with the right tools. The rest is discipline and a will to make things easier
Domenic Schüpbach, Lean Manager, Bern
“I strive for perfection.”
"Kaizen" is Japanese. It means a striving for continuous improvement. My job is to instil this mindset at Swisscom. I do Kaizen with my band Yokko as well. Every song starts out as a prototype. We try them out at concerts. And work on improving them, time and again. Last autumn Yokko went to Japan. It was the first time we performed outside Europe. It’s unbelievable where the music takes me. I’m proud of it, but you have to keep your feet on the ground. I can’t live from music. And it’s not my main priority. An important counterpoint for my music is working at Swisscom, where I can and intend to make a lot of changes.
Estelle Pugin, Sales Consultant Shop, Lausanne
“Everything happened so fast. Luckily, it turned out well.”
I work in the Métropole 2000 Shop in Lausanne. When I finished school I did a Federal Certificate of Aptitude (CFC) in logistics. Then I trained with SwissLife Select as a financial advisor. I realised that contact with customers was important to me, so that’s why I’m now working with Swisscom as a Sales & Consultant. Apart from the usual services, our job sometimes calls for us to be ready for anything. Last August when the shop was closing a customer had two cardiac arrests. I instinctively hurried to lie the customer flat and reanimate her with the help of the Securitas colleague as we waited for the ambulance. Everything happened very quickly, but eventually we got good news of the customer.
Tulu Budesa, HR Marketing Manager, Bern
"I've always been a people person"
My roots are in Iran. But at heart I'm a Bern "meitschi" [girl]. My desire to bring different cultures together goes back to when I was a little girl, when I kept at it until my peers accepted me as one of them. I've been putting myself in other people's shoes all my life. I do the same in my job at Swisscom: I put myself in the place of IT data scientists and software developers - and then I ask myself, how can Swisscom make itself attractive to them as an employer? We need the right people in the right place to work with new technologies and agile work methods like holocracy. I recruit people that have an affinity for the Swisscom spirit, because that's our common bond. Know-how changes, people don't.
Sascha Gysel, Head of e-foresight Digital Banking Think Tank, Zurich
"No two days are the same"
I founded my first start-up in the online sector during my IT apprenticeship – and the second a couple of years later in Peking. What fascinates me about entrepreneurship? Never being certain about anything and constant change. Life couldn’t have been more eventful than in China, where no two days were the same. You had to be flexible and always willing to take on new ideas. Today I head a kind of start-up within Swisscom called e-foresight. We support banks with their digital transformation as an independent think tank. New technologies like artificial intelligence, new business models and changed customer behaviour have a major impact on the entire financial industry. Supporting clients with their transformation means that we have to keep on developing our think tank and learn new things. And that’s exactly why I love my job.
"I always keep a cool head."
Lukas Hohl, ICT architect, Zurich
"I look out for the little things."
I have to set the right priorities. That’s the most important part of my job. As a Swisscom TV product owner I’m the point of contact for customers, managers, developers and partners. Their requirements usually exceed the resources and budget at my disposal. So the moment of truth strikes: what do we tackle first? What has to wait? My decisions impact directly on the customer experience of more than one million TV users. I aim to offer customers the best experience. That sometimes keeps me awake at night. I pay attention to the details and the minor discrepancies when I take decisions, because they often make the difference. Luckily, over time you tend to develop a gut feeling.
Arijana Walcott, Business Development Manager, Palo Alto Outpost
"Clash of cultures at close quarters"
I seek out trends for Swisscom in Silicon Valley. I connect people with people, topics, resources. Sometime I have to mediate when cultures clash: such as between my Swisscom colleagues who like to put a technology through its paces first and the wild Californian start-ups who make off-the-cuff decisions. I’m very impatient myself – which is probably why I fit in so well, because everyone is like that here. Obviously, I miss my family and friends in Switzerland. My three-year-old son skypes with my Mum every day: they read books or play at make-believe. Next year though, my outpost days will be over and we’ll be returning to Switzerland. With a smile and a tear.