Goodbye and thank you, President Ruey!

15 questions for Claude Ruey on his 20-year-long tenure as the President of the Chillon Castle Foundation.

The President will be stepping down from his role at the end of June 2022. He was already President of Chillon Castle Association back in 1998. Speaking candidly, he often cites anecdotes from the Chillon team. Claude Ruey has a keen interest in humans, their history and their spirituality. Not to mention that, just like Columbo, he always speaks very highly of his wife.

Answers gathered by Lise Leyvraz Dorier / Translated by Amy Reid

1) How does it feel to be coming to the end of your presidency?

Claude Ruey: Very good. Even better knowing that the gamble we took on creating a private foundation in 2002 paid off, all thanks to our strength, skill and resilience. Even if covid-19 and the like may have hindered us somewhat. The gamble on our recovery also paid off. I am confident and pleased with the collaboration between staff and the Foundation Board.

2) How does it feel to be coming to the end of your presidency?

We had to downsize the castle administration – previously it had been split between various administrative entities in Lausanne and Veytaux. That meant we could simplify the management of the castle, which became almost ‘Sleeping Beauty’-like. We modernised our operations through one management team and a clear organigram. And we got creative – thanks to a new visitor trail, our temporary history and art exhibitions, and an audioguide available in 9 languages (French, German, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Korean) to name but a few examples.

3) What three things have you most enjoyed about the FCC?

– Having built an organisation and management team with three successive high-quality directors.

– The positive atmosphere within the Chillon team, who are all so kind and skilled.

– All our major work, such as the lighting by Romande Énergie and the landscaping of the ‘English Garden’ linked to the construction of Café Byron by Dreier&Frenzel architects. These were very inspiring projects.

4) And, by comparison, what made you sweat the most?

The drastic increase in taxes on entertainment by Veytaux town council; it’s essentially a  on our success and was not really justified.

5) What will you miss?

Regular meetings with the management team and the staff parties.

6) What is your favourite room in Chillon Castle?

The Chapel – spirituality transcends time and age.

7) What do you think is the most unique item in the fortress?

The grounds-keeper’s suspended   in the clocktower.

8) Who is your favourite historical figure?

Percy Shelley – he was an excellent poet who visited Chillon Castle and whose wife wrote ‘Frankenstein’.

9) Any particularly memorable guided tours?

The first time I came to the castle with my maternal grandparents, who lived in Montreux. I found the Bonivard affair captivating as a child…

10) Do you have any good stories to share?

When I agreed to this interview, I almost forgot about the meeting. Thankfully, you were able to get hold of me on my mobile phone. Phew!

11) What is your secret to ‘holding office’ as the president?

You need to be interested in heritage and history with good strategic and managerial skills. As a former State Councillor for the Canton of Vaud, and thanks to the Scouts, I was well trained. But I must say that I am constantly learning and have continued my professional development throughout my life.

12) Do you believe in the power of ‘strategy notes’?

You need to remember to look before you leap. This means it is vital you look at the bigger picture when it comes to analysing and making choices: what are the objectives, are there any obstacles and what are the best solutions? I learnt that from Pierre Aepli, the former police commander for the canton.

13) Would you like to give a shoutout to anyone?

Robert Herren, our steward who was upgraded to director. He had a few challenges to overcome in the beginning, given the demands of his new role. Not forgetting the two other directors: Jean-Pierre Pastori and the incumbent Marta Sofia dos Santos.

14) What are your hopes for the future?

I want to hold onto my passion for the future and for life, with other commitments. I also want to make more time for walks with my wife and my dogs.

15) Anything else to add?

My Chillon experience has been a wonderful adventure and a joint success that we can all be proud of, thanks to our good working atmosphere, skills and results.

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