Made in Switzerland
Meet the dynamic and ambitious Raphael Guldimann from TAU International’s MA in Conflict Resolution & Mediation
He comes from a land of mountain peaks, gourmet cheese, stubborn neutrality and one of the world’s purest democracies. He speaks German, French, Italian and English. And most of all, he's a man of ideas – an entrepreneur, an up-and-coming politician, and one of 42 students in TAU international’s MA in Conflict Resolution and Mediation Class of 2012.
Religion of Innovation
Raphael, enticed by the Middle East and the quality of Israel’s higher education, decided to embark on a "personal challenge in an environment considerably different to Switzerland and with a unique history." At the same time, conflict resolution as an academic field particularly intrigued him, as it promised to strengthen his mediation and leadership skills that are vital in the business and political worlds. Combined with his interest in Israel as the “start-up nation”, Raphael found what he was looking for at TAU, in the heart of the cultural, financial and technological capital of Israel.
Born and raised in Basel, a German-speaking city in northern Switzerland, Raphael worked for UBS, the global Swiss financial services company, before completing a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Applied Sciences in Basel. Simultaneously, Raphael founded his first company, PandemieSet, at the age of 22, which manufactured disaster preparedness kits. His product proved so successful that he employed an assembly-line of workers, and eventually entered into partnership with Switzerland’s largest health insurance provider.
Raphael also emerged as a promising young Swiss politician. In 2011, he was nominated as a Green Liberal Party national parliament candidate from his home canton of Basel City. The party, established in 2007 and fusing free-market policies with a strong emphasis on environmental and social issues, now has representation in both houses of the national parliament, as well as in 22 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons. Raphael’s political activism on a host of issues — including public petitions that garnered tens of thousands of signatures — has earned him wide media coverage in his native country.
TAU's MA in Conflict Resolution and Mediation provided Raphael with the perfect opportunity to pursue his myriad interests. Having recently completed his three semesters of coursework, he is full of praise for the quality of the teaching, scope of subject matter and emphasis on real-word encounters. From the business application of a course in negotiation to examining the political dimensions of conflict resolution, Raphael notes that "it’s been an honor learning under such a talented and professional faculty and cohort… they really try to tailor your studies to your interests."
Real-world interaction and application of this knowledge has been a highlight for Raphael, affording him and his classmates the opportunity to glean new insights from world experts in security, politics, diplomacy and Middle Eastern studies. Guided visits to the Israeli-Syrian border, a thought-provoking tour of Israel's separation barrier in east Jerusalem, and collaboration with prestigious think tanks, were just some of the activities that only a country engaged in protracted conflict can offer.
Pictured: MA in Conflict Resolution and Mediation Class of 2012 at the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) headquarters on the Golan Heights
Raphael’s fellow students, whom he describes as "an impressive collection of people from all different backgrounds,” hail from countries as diverse as China and Chile, Poland and New Zealand, and reflect the full spectrum of cultural, political and ideological orientations. The degree, Raphael emphasizes, “gives us an exclusive opportunity to learn about one of the most complex conflicts of our time and think about possible solutions.” Through his travels across Israel, and the forging of friendships across divides, Raphael is driven by a philosophy of listening to all voices, and being open to all cultures. An ethos, he stresses, that is part-and-parcel of the approach of the MA in Conflict Resolution.
And what of the city of Tel Aviv itself? “Tel Aviv offers everything – the beach, exciting nightlife and cultural events, and proximity to both Europe and the Arab world.” Raphael rents an apartment in the city’s leafy north, just a few kilometers from the Mediterranean coastline, and gets around on bike – a 15 minute ride to the university.
Now, having finished his course requirements, Raphael’s future is brimming with possibility. In addition to working on his newest business eKMU.ch, a digital media consultancy venture, Raphael is looking for “a meaningful and challenging occupation in an international environment, one in which I can combine my business acumen with the social and negotiation skills that I have developed here at TAU."