Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2006 (Revised February 2007)

UBS: Towards the Integrated Firm

by Rajiv Lal, Nitin Nohria and Carin-Isabel Knoop


In late June 2005, UBS Group CEO Peter Wuffli--anointed "Master of Zurich" by the financial press--was returning to Zurich from the firm's latest three-day Senior Leadership Conference (SLC). Tapping 600 top managers, this SLC featured an outdoor event at a former military site in the Swiss mountains. Under the banner of "Understanding, Commitment, and Trust," teams of 100 executives engaged in a simulation of six worlds--metaphors for the various regions and parts of UBS business. Initial skepticism about the exercise was replaced with enthusiasm for the "mind-boggling" camaraderie that it created. Held above Montreux, Switzerland, home of the International Jazz Festival, the program opened with a taped interview of jazz great Wynton Marsalis asking the audience to equate the dynamics of jazz with the collaboration required to maintain a complex professional services firm. Marsalis contrasted Duke Ellington, who composed for the specific talents of his band members, with John Coltrane, a master of improvisation. "Coltrane played the themes," Wuffli mused. "That's what we do. We've got the vision. We've got all of our different musicians and we're playing to these themes in an integrated way. It does make beautiful music."

Keywords: Integration; Programs; Leadership; Talent and Talent Management; Trust;


Lal, Rajiv, Nitin Nohria, and Carin-Isabel Knoop. "UBS: Towards the Integrated Firm." Harvard Business School Case 506-026, March 2006. (Revised February 2007.)