Looking back over 16 years as member of the cantonal government

After sixteen years as a member of the cantonal government, most recently as the director of the Department of Economic Development, Matthias Michel is taking a well-earned break prior to taking on new challenges acting as a consultant for companies.

Speaking to a journalist of the Zuger Zeitung before Christmas, he mentioned that he missed his daily cycle to work from Oberwil, as he felt this exercise kept him physically fit and mentally alert.

In all his years holding his high office, he said it was always important to have time for his family, sitting down to a meal with his wife and four children at least once a day. He mentioned how it was talking with his children which helped him keep his feet on the ground. With their father having been a member of the cantonal government for so long, they can scarcely remember a time when he wasn’t. Michel said it was sometimes as if they held a mirror up to him, his eldest son asking, “So what will be better if you are elected?” He recalled also how his youngest child, a daughter, then six years old, assured him she would vote or him.

Michel, a lawyer by profession, was first elected to the cantonal government in 2002, taking on responsibility for education and culture, going on to take over the Department of Economic Development in 2007. For the year 2011 and 2012 he was Landammann, i.e. head of the cantonal government, and in 2012, too, he was named “Zug Man of the Year”. He emphasised that what was important in all he did was getting others involved and giving them time to think things through. “If you do this, you are half way to your goal already,” he said, adding how his legal training had also helped. “As a lawyer you think in a logical, conceptual way, able to breakdown complex matters in different parts, a considered approach also helping to find solutions of mutual benefit.”

Looking back at his achievements while responsible for education and culture, one area he was particularly proud of was promoting the teaching of English at primary school level. And when he changed his responsibilities to economic matters, he pushed vocational training. “It was all a matter of preparing young people for what internationally-operating companies here needed, providing courses for students of commerce and in IT through English. “In fact, it was as a result of this that some such companies offered apprenticeships in these areas.” He also thought that providing vocational training was the best way of ensuring young foreigners got a foothold in the labour market. “What is important is that these young people have perspectives. Let it not be forgotten society becomes more stable when the work these young people do fulfils them.”

Another area Michel was keen on was public transport, not least as Zug is very much a commuter canton. In a small canton like Zug, networking with other cantons was important to ensure seamless links. With Zurich being so close Michel also set about creating increased links with it, resulting in Zug playing a pivotal role in the foundation of the Zurich Metropolitan Association, with Zug also greatly involved with the Greater Zurich Area, too, both cantons cooperating in promoting the area abroad.

As to his period of time-out, Michel will be going on a cycle tour and language course in Italy, prior to embarking on a new career advising companies of various structures, some public. “At the same time, I hope to be able to find more time to practise playing jazz music on the piano,” he concluded.

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