A life in the day of… Serge Willenegger, VP, product management, Qualcomm

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 his position.

“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 Asia.”

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 people.

“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 Willenegger.

“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 commercial roadmaps.

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 says.

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 product cycle.

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.”

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