06 October 2014
Serge Willenegger has the unconventional task of managing a team that is primarily based in San Diego from his native Switzerland.
His days are dependent on the varying time zones, and with
Qualcomm’s headquarters based in San Diego,
California, his mornings are relatively quieter than others in
"I operate in a rather modern manner," says Willenegger. "My
typical day starts early in the morning, catching up with the
latest from California and engaging with our teams and partners in
While he waits for the US to wake up, there is also room in his
diary for a bit of time to himself. This is when he tries to
fit in time to exercise and plan his business strategy for the
day. Where he does this may come as a surprise to some
"The best place and time for creative thinking and problem
solving is on a rock-climbing wall, and on a daily basis I try
to ensure I get some time to myself," he says.
However, when California is ready to work, so is
"This is when the real business gets done," he says. He is
expected to work well into the night conducting meetings, with
his primary role based on core management of modem technology
and the company’s product roadmap.
He is presently responsible for the company’s
cellular technology portfolio management, covering LTE, EPC/IMS, UMTS, CDMA and GSM
After almost 20 years at Qualcomm, Willenegger says he
continues to be motivated by the vendor’s
commitment towards connecting people and upgrading technology,
and he has a core belief that his work has benefits to society.
"This transformation has been unfolding in front of our eyes
and I’ve been privileged to be part of it," he
While he works remotely from Switzerland, Willenegger spends 15
weeks a year on the road, with a good share of it in San Diego.
The rest of his time is divided between interacting with
partners and customers around the world.
"A lot can be achieved by working with high efficiency through
electronic interaction. Being located outside of San Diego has
the obvious cons of being remote, but personally, and for my
family, the possibility to live in the country we love while
having a fantastic job is hard to beat." In an industry which
he describes as "brutally competitive and increasingly high
stake", Willenegger is expected to win business with every
He says that this competitive nature is integral to
Qualcomm’s overall DNA. "I’m
professionally born in a hostile ecosystem. The challenge and
personal investment is to sustain it and come out ahead."