My Swiss Story is a series that looks at lives and experiences in Switzerland.
This week we spoke to Alex Inchbald. He’s from just outside London, lives near Geneva, is married with two children, works as an extreme artist and leadership mentor and has a passion for skiing and the mountains.
What brought you to Switzerland?
The mountains. On a four-week Alpine trip 15 years ago I discovered the positive effect they have on me. They woke me up! I was calmer and more inspired. My girlfriend at the time remarked on it. Nine months later I was living in Geneva.
What do you love most about your life here?
The energy of the mountains. It got me painting again after 14 years. I now paint on mountains in all kinds of weather. I draw on this experience to help inspire change in leaders and organisations.
What was your biggest challenge after arriving here?
Making friends. Many of the people who come to Geneva come with young children, focus on family life and don’t go out much. Other expats socialize within their work environment making them hard to meet too. Making Swiss friends was even harder. I met so few. Only 20% of the people in my first office were Swiss. Geneva’s workplaces are kind of segregated in this way. On the flip side, being alone allowed me to reflect and rediscover my creativity.
What surprised you about Switzerland?
Observing the resistance in US politics, and coming from the UK, which has a political culture of conquering opposition, it’s refreshing to see collaborative government, regular referenda and no flashy election campaigns. The UK uses debate to impose a position. Switzerland uses discussion to find common ground. This was a pleasant surprise.
What do you miss from your life before?
Not much. I see my family as much, if not more than I did when I lived in the UK. And, I see my UK friends when they come to ski. Oddly, I miss fish and chips, something I hardly ever ate when I lived there.
What would you miss most if you left Switzerland?
Other than being able to paint and ski whenever I want, I’d miss the connection I have with nature here. The Alps are my laboratory. They allows me to explore the relationship between humanity and the universe. They’re part of me.