Careers in the Sport Industry

Careers Sport

Health for Performance – Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games

Sport offers many career opportunities for EPFL graduates. The evolution of equipment, the ever-increasing integration of technologies for training, performance monitoring or content distribution requires the use of experts from our School’s training programs. These new avenues are growing rapidly.

Career opportunities within the sport industy for EPFL students

Career opportunities within the sport industy for EPFL students

Testimonials

Daniel Schmäh
Daniel Schmäh (MX’05) Product Development Engineer at Nidecker Group

What is your current position?

I am currently a product development engineer within the Nidecker Group. I am responsible for several innovative projects with long term developments on products related to snowboarding and also actively participate in other future technical projects of the group

What is your background?

I started my professional career in a start-up company at EPFL which aimed to develop production processes for technical composites for the automotive industry. It was a great learning experience but it is a field where developments take a lot of time.  Passionate about sports and sailing in particular, I jumped two years later on the opportunity to join the design office of l’Hydroptère (which later became Hydros) when it opened at the EPFL Innovation Park. This experience was very enriching, with super fast development loops and at the cutting edge of composite technology. Hydros was an incredible and truly formative experience, to be able to manage developments from concept, to 3D drawing, to production follow-up and finally to do-it-yourself water testing. 5 years ago, with the departure of the Hydros office in Dubai, I joined the Nidecker group, mainly active in the snowboard world, which allows me to stay in one of my passions and gain experience on the business side of product development.

How has EPFL prepared you for your career?

The materials science program I followed at the time allowed me to acquire a technical background with a very good general knowledge of the different existing materials, their properties, and their different processes of implementation. This training, as well as the EPFL in a more general way, also gave me the necessary tools and structure to take up and lead technical projects from their implementation to their success.

What product would you dream of developing?

I dream of one day developing a leisure product that has absolutely no ecological impact from its manufacture to its disposal…

Your greatest professional achievement in the sports sector?

The world sailing speed record that we beat with the hydrofoil in 2009, the result of the work of a great family of enthusiasts and achieved on a boat optimized by our internal R&D team.

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Lise Van Long
Lise Van Long (CH’00) Corporate Sustainability Senior Manager – IOC

What are your current activities?

I work in the sustainability team of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a Senior Manager. Having joined the IOC in 2016, I contributed to the development of the organization’s first sustainability strategy, which aimed to strengthen the IOC’s level of ambition in sustainability. Together with my other colleagues, I am now working on the implementation of this strategy at the level of the institution itself, the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement – which includes international sports federations and National Olympic Committees. On a day-to-day basis, this involves managing a multitude of projects such as the climate plan, the responsible purchasing policy and exchanges with suppliers on this subject, studies on sustainable innovation topics, the development of methodological guides for our stakeholders, etc. And in recent years, I have been fortunate enough to contribute to the exciting project of building our new headquarters according to very high sustainability standards.

What is your background?

I trained as a chemical engineer at the EPFL (currently Master in Chemical Engineering). Being passionate about ecological issues, I specialized in environmental chemistry in my last year, then I followed a Master’s course in Environmental Management at MinesParisTech. I worked for 15 years in environmental consulting, in Paris and London, first in a large engineering company (AECOM), then in a small consulting firm (Bio Intelligence Service) and finally at Deloitte. In 2015, I came back to Switzerland with the intention of discovering something else, and I had the opportunity to join the CIO in a young team.

How has EPFL prepared you for your career?

My studies at EPFL gave me many tools and know-how to tackle complex problems, whether scientific or other. Chemistry being present everywhere, my core curriculum proved to be useful in many situations and even today when it comes to calculating carbon balances. On a human level, having studied in an international environment such as the EPFL has been a major asset for the rest of my career, widening the field of possibilities.

Sport, for you, is…

First of all a great source of inspiration! I am convinced that the values conveyed by sport and the physical and mental benefits of sport can contribute to a better world. And when it comes to sustainability, there is still a lot to be done in this area, so it’s exciting.

What are your current collaborations with EPFL?

Following various ad hoc collaborations (notably with the Faculty of Architecture for the construction of our new headquarters), the IOC and EPFL signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2019 to facilitate collaboration on various innovation topics related to sport and sustainability. For example, we worked with the Smart Living Lab (Prof. Fivet) and the EAST laboratory (Prof. Fröhlich) of the Faculty of Architecture to create a think tank that promotes sustainable innovation in the field of sports infrastructure, while the LEPA laboratory (Prof. Girault) advised us on the installation of a hydrogen station for our fleet of vehicles.

LinkedIn

Bertrand Cardis
Bertrand Cardis (GM’81) Administrator Decision SA – Founder Niveole SARL

What are your current activities?

After 30 years of activity as Director of Decision SA where I worked for sport, I offer myself free time to do more sport and in particular cycling. At the same time, I have created a consulting firm, Niveole SARL, which allows me to make the most of the experience I have acquired over the years in a punctual and not very time-consuming way. I am also still active in several boards of directors.

What is your background?

I obtained a degree in mechanical engineering in hydraulics from EPFL in 1981. During my studies, I participated in particular with my fellow student Franck Riboud in a semester project for the development of a windsurf board. We imagined it, digitally simulated it, built a model, carried out tests in a tank test, and finally realized a prototype to validate the hypotheses by sailing on it. This project allowed us to work across silos of the different sections, which was not usual at the time.  At our scale, it was a first interdisciplinary project and I am happy to see that the EPFL now offers this opportunity to students thanks to the MAKE projects.

How has EPFL prepared you for your career?

I have always been passionate about sailing and very active in competition. After graduating, I entered the round-the-world race on the Golden Disc 3. 135 days of competition at sea. On my return, we decided with the members of the Swiss Ocean Racing Club to create Decision SA to build the boat UBS Switzerland for this competition. At the time, I thought I would spend 2 to 3 years in this activity and resume my job as a hydrodynamic engineer. The future proved me wrong, my passion for sailing and competition became my job and I made all my career in this company.

If I hadn’t done the EPFL I would never have succeeded in this career. This school allows you to have a global and holistic vision, the skills you acquire there allow you to apprehend a problem in its entirety.

What is your greatest professional sports memory?

As a child, I dreamed of building boats. I participated in the making of the first two when I was 16 years old; they were Optimists that I made for my two sisters. But even in my wildest dreams, I never dared to imagine building a boat for the America’s Cup. So building several of them and contributing two times to the Alinghi team’s victory really allowed me to fulfill my wildest dreams.

LinkedIn

Alexandre Aellig
Alexandre Aellig (SC’06)  Chief Operating Officer – Lausanne Hockey Club

What are your current activities?

I advised the new shareholders of the Lausanne Hockey Club in the discussions that led to the takeover of the club in May 2020. My activities are essentially focused on the management and reorganization of the group in order to be ready post-Covid to hosts events within the Vaudoise Arena – hopefully soon.

What is your background?

I started my professional career while studying at EPFL, working for a start-up active in mobile networks. I then did my Master’s degree thesis at UBS, which convinced me to continue in the financial field in a family office in Geneva, as a hedge fund analyst, where I worked for almost eight years in investment management. Subsequently, my advisory activities with clients in Europe and the Middle East, particularly in sports and technology transactions, enabled me to return to my early studies.

What caused you to make the switch from the financial world to sports?

Finance, especially private equity, covers a very broad field of activities, so this shift happened quite naturally over the last few years, even if this is the first time that I am directly involved in the sports sector on a day-to-day basis. The fact that I took part in the club’s takeover transaction obviously precipitated it.

How has EPFL prepared you for your career?

Having followed classical studies, EPFL gave me the chance to consider engineering without necessarily having had a preliminary scientific education. In addition to the mathematical background, the studies I followed in Communications Systems allowed me to acquire a scientific rigor and a logic that were useful throughout my career. My knowledge acquired at the EPFL is proving to be particularly valuable at the moment, as we begin a digital transition within the LHC.

What are your current collaborations with EPFL?

The LHC has several concrete projects in collaboration with EPFL and startups linked to the school, especially in the sports field (player and puck tracking solutions, physical training and recovery for example).

LinkedIn
2020, Nov. Lausanne HC. “Comment le LHC s’adapte à sa nouvelle dimension” FR

Mathieu Falbriard
Mathieu Falbriard (PhD EL’20, SC’15) Sports tech startup Founder

What are your current activities?

I am currently working on a startup project to improve the management of cranial impacts in sport. Our goal is to integrate motion analysis technologies, developed at EPFL, into connected helmets and thus prevent consequences associated with repeated head impacts.

What is your background?

I started my career in a somewhat atypical way with a CFC in computer science at the Technical Division of Porrentruy, then Bachelor and Master studies in communication systems at the EPFL, with one experience in Iowa State University (USA). I realized my diploma project with a startup from EPFL (GaitUp) which was followed by a PhD at the Laboratory of Movement Measurement and Analysis (LMAM), supervised by Prof. Kamiar Aminian, and finished in May 2020. During my PhD, I had the chance to participate in various interdisciplinary projects, including the development of a foot prosthesis for the ICRC.

How has EPFL prepared you for your career?

The knowledge and experience acquired during my EPFL curriculum on cutting-edge technologies, notably in computer science, communication systems, and signal processing, allow me today to undertake a startup project encompassing all of these fields; using interconnected sensors, with wireless communication, interpreting the measured data using state-of-the-art algorithms to make them accessible to the general public, while saving sensitive data on secure servers. In addition, EPFL allows to keep a balance between studies and related activities; a necessity and a real asset in my opinion. Thus, through various commitments, I have been able to acquire knowledge in the management of an associative structure which serves me today in my entrepreneurial project.

Why start a startup in the field of sports?

Sport concerns all of us, no matter the level of practice. It is an important public health issue, both in terms of the benefits to our physical and mental health, but also in terms of the trauma that can result from it. Having practiced contact sports for several years, I was confronted with the problem of concussions and their consequences on the daily life of young athletes. Unfortunately, the consequences associated with head injuries are still poorly understood and the lack of instrumentation to monitor head impacts is a major obstacle to improving scientific knowledge. This is why I decided to launch a startup using the technologies and algorithms developed during my PhD and thus propose a solution to the management of concussions in sport. Finally, sports applications, because of their accessibility, often constitute a first phase of improvement for methods that can then be adapted to other fields of use.

What are your current collaborations with EPFL?

Our project has been awarded a grant from EPFL so that we can further develop the measurement system and evaluate the various opportunities for our technology. Thanks to this support, we not only have access to the infrastructure and know-how of the host laboratory (LMAM), but also to a whole ecosystem of knowledge made available to startups by EPFL. In addition, the efforts to promote innovation in the field of sports and the network of partners developed in recent years by EPFL, facilitate the influence of our project and the establishment of collaborations.

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MARANELLO
Mattia Binotto (GM’94) Managing Director Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow

What are your current activities?

Since January 2019 I am Team Principal and Managing Director of Scuderia Ferrari. I moved to Italy after achieving my degree at the EPFL and I’ve been based nearby Reggio Emilia ever since.

What is your background?

I obtained my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in 1994, as I was living in Switzerland at the time. I then attended a Masters in motor vehicle engineering for nine months at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Through that Master I got the opportunity to join Ferrari in 1995, which was a dream come true. I was immediately assigned to the Formula 1 department, as a Test Engine Engineer with the test team and I remember Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger were driving for the Scuderia at the time. I have been working at Ferrari ever since, fulfilling subsequently the role of Engine Engineer with the race team with Eddie Irvine first and then Michael Schumacher until 2004, when I assumed the responsibility of all race engines and subsequently, in 2007, took on the role of Chief Engine Engineer, race and assembly. Then, in 2009, I was Head of Engine and KERS Operations, before becoming Deputy Director, Engine and Electronics in October 2013 and  subsequently Chief Operating Officer, Power Unit. On July 27, 2016, I was appointed Chief Technical Officer of Scuderia Ferrari and finally, from January 7, 2019 I became Managing Director Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow.

How has EPFL prepared you for your career?

I have extremely good memories of my time at EPFL and when I think back to those days it’s always with great pleasure. The École has given me solid technical knowledge also achieved and improved through valuable practical training in a number of laboratories focused on several disciplines, which made for a very quick and smooth integration into my first job and no, without a doubt, I have benefitted from it throughout my whole career. I was born and raised in Switzerland and went to Swiss schools, which I believe taught me a pretty much structured approach, in terms of time planning and planning tout court. Finally, apart from all this, I have to say the EPFL was the place where I also made a lot of good friends, some of whom I am still in contact with after more than 20 years! 

What is the future of Formula 1?

Formula1 is an incredible sport with millions of passionate fans around the world. It’s the pinnacle of motorsport thanks to its cutting edge technology and there are a very few sports that can give you as much excitement. Over the last few years, the current rights holder of Formula1, Liberty Media, has put in place an ambitious sustainability plan to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030, so the clear objective of the sport is to become carbon neutral by that date. Liberty has also set about ways to make the sport more equitable and competitive. Last Summer, all the 10 teams signed the renewal of what is known as the ‘Concorde Agreement’, which is a very good sign, showing that we are all willing to really look positively at ensuring the future of F1. I believe the groundwork has been done and now it’s really a matter of making F1 even more spectacular, stronger, and it needs all of us to work together. A budget cap on chassis performance spending has been implemented for this year and beyond, to help make our sport more affordable; the goal is to contain expenses in the hope of reducing the gap between the top teams and the others. Cars are undergoing a major technical change for 2022, which means they will be simpler and could potentially race more easily against each other. The combination of these two elements, budget cap and technical change, will result in more battles, more teams winning and will bring more excitement. I see a healthy and viable future for Formula 1 and I believe the whole sport is now well set up to achieve its stated long-term objectives.

What are your current collaborations with EPFL?

Unfortunately, today we have nothing in place, even though we have been in contact a few times in the past. I must say though, we always pay special attention to EPFL’s activities and hopefully in the future we will find room for some form of cooperation.