PAZNAUN PEOPLE: MARKUS WALSER, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD AT THE SILVRETTASEILBAHN AG

Markus Walser is 45. He grew up in Ischgl and has been on the board of the region’s biggest business for many years – the Silvrettaseilbahn AG cableway company. He speaks with Trisanna about determination, and dealing with reactions to unpopular decisions. And why you shouldn’t set much store by people who try to pick holes in everything. PHOTOS: MAX KROPITZ Markus, you’ve been at the top in the region’s largest employer for some years now. Did you actively plan to reach a position like this? Everyone who knows me knows that I am very determined and systematic. I studied electrical engineering at polytechnic and then business administration and engineering as an extra-occupational course.  At my company at the time, I was responsible as a young engineer for the technical divisional management of cableway control units and snow-making facilities.
You mean, you already had a clear direction when you began your career? A direction, yes, you could say that. But not the how and where. My boss at the time was like a mentor. My wife and I actually wanted to build a house in Arzl, but a few days before the building negotiations, the then chairman of the board at Silvrettaseilbahn AG, the late and much lamented Paul Wolf, invited me to an interview. And so things took their course.
You became Technical Director in 2001 and were promoted to the board in 2006. How do you cope with the responsibility? I was lucky that the chairman, Eugen Zangerl, introduced me to some areas which were completely new to me, and that my colleague of many years standing, Hannes Parth, in particular, always supported and encouraged me so much during our mutual time on the board. Responsibility always has a significant impact, of course – above all at a local and regional level. I always keep in mind what the company which I now lead, together with my colleague Günther Zangerl, stands for, and how important it is. The Silvrettaseilbahn AG boosts the quality of life in the region with its economic activity and its engagement; it provides recreation as well as work, creates income and promotes the community. It is important to me that our business activities – including our peripheral activities – have a positive impact for our society and our region. And I believe this to be the case.

As a boss you sometimes have to take unpopular decisions, too. Is this difficult for you? It’s very normal that different interests conflict sometimes. But if you want to be successful as a boss, you have to treat your staff as equals, show appreciation for them, but still maintain a respectful distance. There’s a saying which I think is particularly apt here: you can have fun with a good boss, but not wipe the floor with them.
What do you wish for the future? The future for me is always linked to great expectations and new challenges. The core of our business in the future, too, will be the snow – there are no alternatives to winter sport in our remote side valleys.  So with this in mind, our goal has to be to continue offering facilities with the greatest level of comfort and best possible snow conditions. In terms of size and profitability, the Silvrettaseilbahn AG is today one of the leading cable car companies in the world. Unfortunately, tourism is often cast in a negative light by NGOs, and the cable car industry is picked apart. There is talk of an imminent end to Alpine winter tourism. But if you look at Ischgl today, you can see that tourism doesn’t ruin anything, but, on the contrary, has a positive and stimulating impact. I hope that my generation will manage to continue to expand and strengthen what our predecessors have built – and that people from all walks of life will benefit from tourism.