A day in life – Head of Yandex Europe AG speaks about the national love for mountains, skiing and classical music

The president of 'Yandex' sales office in Switzerland Bernard Lukey is a Swiss-born businessman with affection towards the emerging markets. He worked for many years in the Russian e-commerce sector, and then after joining the Russian search giant he returned home to lead the office in Lucerne. The employees of the Swiss office of 'Yandex' are attracting customers from all over Europe who are interested in entering the Russian market – 'Yandex' sells its marketing tools, business intelligence services and advertising to these customers. Doing international business in Switzerland is easier and more comfortable than anywhere else in Europe because of the special mentality; locals can easily find a common language with people from other countries. By our request, Bernard Lukey shared his vision of the Swiss mentality and the secrets of everyday life for a Russian technology company in the heart of Europe.

Head of Yandex Europe AG

Swiss mentality

Foreign companies often choose Switzerland as a platform to enter the international market, which is quite understandable. It’s a stable, multilingual country with an attractive tax regime, which welcomes businessmen with open arms. But there is also another factor, which is the reason why Swiss people so easily find a common language with other nations. "The residents of Switzerland are passionate travellers, with a wanderthirst embedded in our DNA," said Bernard. "I'd like to emphasize that we are not talking about common tourism. The ambitious Swiss like to go to another country for a long haul, to submerge in its culture. When they return, they enrich their country with gained experiences and knowledge about other cultures. As a result, this allows them to build a free-thinking, open and tolerant society."

There are very many people here who are constantly traveling from one country to another.

"Consider this: Switzerland is a tiny country with a population of just 7 million people. But wherever you go, you definitely meet someone from Switzerland," admits Bernard. The Swiss are spread all over the world: someone chooses America – either North or South; someone travels to Africa or Asia. Bernard decided to opt for Russia.

Switzerland has strong and long-standing cultural ties with our country: starting in the 19th century, Swiss architects, scientists, and tutors were coming to Russia, while Russian writers, poets, students, and even political activists were traveling to Switzerland. Walking along the streets of Swiss towns, one can see plenty of monuments to Russian personalities who visited the country a century ago. Today this relationship is moving on to a new economic level. The Russian market is full of opportunities, it is unsaturated; there is not much competition there as in Europe or the United States.

Favourite places

It's no secret that Switzerland is an incredibly beautiful country; any brochure or travel site describing Switzerland is bustled with superlative adjectives. Picturesque, wonderful, with marvellous nature... It's all true. Nevertheless, everyone in Switzerland has his own, very special favourite place, which warms the cockles of his heart. "I have two such places," says Bernard. "The town of Montreux on Lake Geneva and an absolutely unique city of Lucerne. I am lucky: I was born in the first one, and I have an office in the second one. These two places have a lot in common: both towns are located on the shores of large water basins and surrounded by mountains. I really love living in the modern urban environment, but at the same to have mountains within 15 minutes reach."

Lucerne, where 'Yandex' has its Western European sales office since 2012, is an ancient city with a surprisingly modern spirit. The freshly constructed building of the office is located in the very centre of the city, just three minutes from the railway station which is very convenient. At the same time it is very close to the pedestrian area of the old city, which is full of attractions. There you will see medieval houses with frescoes and paintings still preserved on their facades, you can admire the town hall, palaces and the highly decorated churches.

The old town is also a very pleasant location for business meals with partners: there are many charming little restaurants with warm atmosphere and glorious views. Not far from the office of 'Yandex' is a famous cultural and community centre KKL, built by the French architect Jean Nouvel. Under the roof of this masterpiece of architecture is a concert hall with the best acoustics in the world, the congress center and the art museum. By the way, Yandex Europe AG is a sponsor of the annual Festival of Russian Music 'Magic Lake', which takes place in the concert hall in May.


"My love for mountains is easy to explain, since it is a traditional passion for all the Swiss, says Bernard. As do the vast majority of Swiss people, I ski. Our passion for skiing is brought up from the very first years of school. Having the whole class travel to the mountains for ski-hiking for a week is a common practice here. And it's up to you, what sort of skiing you choose, be it mountain ski, recreational classic ski, or cross-country."

Generally speaking, the educational system in Switzerland pays huge attention to sports. "This explains why the Swiss are such a fit and active nation," laughs Bernard. Each school in Switzerland has a sports division of tennis, football and ice hockey; private schools may even have cricket clubs and sailing sections. Moreover, there is a special infrastructure created by the Swiss state and private sponsors, which allows young people to achieve great heights in sports, even without doing it professionally. For example, several times a year there are amateur competitions in skiing, biathlon, volleyball, etc. These are very popular events. "A lot of my friends from Switzerland meet weekly at a friendly football match, basically, they have the whole community of football fans. And there are similar stories almost in every sport," says Bernard.

Switzerland is a country that gives inspiration - for productive work, open and friendly attitude towards each other, and fresh creative ideas. I think this inspiration is born at the very intersection of sports and nature. When you work on improving your physical fitness and while doing it you enjoy the beauties of nature, you easily get your ideas into shape, you settle your mind, and any stress simply melts" – Bernard Lukey, head of Yandex Europe AG.

National cuisine

Switzerland uniquely combines various sub-cultures: German, French and Italian. It leaves its mark on the national cuisine: each region has its own cooking traditions, its own specific recipes and gastronomic preferences. "I would advise you to go to Switzerland and to try all of them," suggests Bernard. "Home cuisine in Switzerland is worth mentioning as a separate point, as the majority of the Swiss like to cook at home."

Speaking of traditional Swiss dishes in Lucerne, there are a lot of items cooked in German-style. These include delicious and hearty dishes of meat, potatoes (a local specialty made from grated potatoes called "Rösti", which resembles large potato pancakes), and local vegetables in a creamy sauce.

Cultural life

This might sound quite paradoxal, but such a small country has an extremely hectic cultural life. Each town and even each village here has a variety of events all the year round, including concerts, art exhibitions and more – all of them are organized at a very high level. For example, Bernard's native town of Montreux holds one of the biggest music festivals in Europe – Montreaux Jazz Festival

Lucerne, where 'Yandex' office is located, holds festivals of classical music three times a year: Easter, Summer and Piano festivals; they also have smaller special festivals – such as the previously mentioned festival of Russian music. "Classical music is considered something very academic and boring by some people, but that does not correspond to reality at all," says Bernard. "Festivals in Lucerne bring a huge number of listeners from around the world, and feature the most prominent performers. The only thing to regret is the lack of time to visit all the cultural events taking place here."

Learn more about various aspects of doing business in Switzerland from our 'Investor Handbook' or from the representatives of Swiss Business Hub, which is a part of the Swiss Embassy in Moscow.

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