WHO IS ANDRE BORSCHBERG?
Fuelled by a drive to push the boundaries of the possible in both technology and human endeavors, André Borschberg is an entrepreneur whose passion for exploration is matched only by his persistence to drive economic, environmental and spiritual growth.
A leader in pioneering technologies, André enjoys sharing his experiences as a speaker and lending his point of view on topics ranging from ‘Making the Impossible, Possible’; ‘The Pivot Point from Explorer to Leader’; to ‘From Vision to Reality’; and, ‘Turning Obstacles into Opportunities’.
Today, he is looking ahead: as a leader of the team that conceived, designed and built Solar Impulse, the first airplane able to fly day and night without any fuel. In 2015 and 2016, André was one of two pilots, with Bertrand Piccard, alternating flying Solar Impulse around the world. André leads the evolution of the plane’s technology into new, complex engineering solutions that will serve and transform a number of industries. As one example, his team is driving toward the development of long-endurance, high- altitude solar drones that could fly for extended periods of time (e.g. 6 months non stop) in the stratosphere, providing measurement, observation and communication services through technology that is more flexible, sustainable and less expensive to that used in conventional satellites.
André contributes as a mentor and by driving initiatives as a member of the World Presidents’ and the Young Presidents’ Organizations and speaks frequently at leadership forums such as the World Economic Forum. He also received a Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Mons in Belgium and was decorated with the Wissam Al Alaoui distinction from the King of Morocco and the Swiss, British and French Governments’ Medal for Aeronautics.
A builder of companies and value at the edge of the known and the possible, André enjoys deep respect and loyalty from his teams for his strategic thinking and leadership. He’s valued for his ability to unite an enormous diversity of talent, personalities and expertise around a higher goal; for bringing out the full potential of all his collaborators; for his accountability, leadership and perspective in periods of high risk and misfortune; and for his investment in individuals to tap their deeper drives and achieve broader personal goals through the team’s shared mission.
André is best known as the CEO, co-founder and pilot of Solar Impulse: the enterprise that, under his guidance, built a plane that the aviation industry said would be impossible to make. In 2015, on the Japan-to-Hawaii leg of a round-the-world flight with the Solar Impulse 2 plane, André broke the world record for the longest solo flight in an airplane of any kind: 117 hours and 52 minutes.
He had previously achieved recognition for the first-ever day and night flight in a solar airplane flying Solar Impulse 1 in 2010, followed by eight different world records. André led the development of the aircraft on a mission that began as the passionate vision of Bertrand Piccard more than 13 years ago, tackling numerous challenges ranging from equipment failures to major delays along the way. With the support of the Solar Impulse team, he and Bertrand completed the round-the-world journey – a first of its kind in a perpetually flying solar airplane – in 2016.
From childhood, André dreamt about flight and showed a thirst for pushing boundaries and tackling new challenges. Trained as a pilot in the Swiss Air Force, he has flown numerous types of different airplanes and jet fighters. In his spare time, he earned an assortment of additional professional airplane and helicopter pilots’ licenses and enjoys air aerobatics. He is said to be able to fly just about any craft there is.
Serendipity brought him in contact with Bertrand in 2003. While taking a break from an extended career in entrepreneurship and devoting his time to social work, André met the dean of the Engineering faculty of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Switzerland’s leading technology university, who told him about Bertrand and his plan to fly around the world using only renewable energy.. When the request came for him to help lead the seemingly impossible mission – to create the plane and help fly it – there was no saying no. This was his opportunity to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and contribute to a new milestone in aviation – one centered not on speed or height, but instead with a mission to show the power of sustainable energy, human ingenuity and stamina.
All the turns and junctures in André’s education and professional life led propitiously to that day in 2003.
While serving in the Air Force, André earned an engineering degree in mechanics and thermodynamics from EPFL, along with certificates in financial management and business management at HEC Lausanne. After earning a master’s degree in management from the Sloan School at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined McKinsey, serving as a consultant for five years, before embarking on his own entrepreneurial activities. In addition to partnering in a venture capital firm for eight years, André successfully launched two start-ups, including Innovative Silicon, a technology company in the field of microprocessor memories.
Thanks to his wife Yasemin, André discovered yoga and meditation, which have been essential to his successes in exploration and entrepreneurship. These practices have helped him develop a state of being that aligns the mind with the body, and have played a critical role in his preparation for stressful and physically taxing situations, such as piloting Solar Impulse.
As he mentors students and coaches managers, André encourages them to think about the implications of their ideas on both an operational and higher level. Good ideas can benefit both business and humanity. André has pursued this approach through his philanthropic work in food assistance and AIDs treatment.
Married to Yasemin and father of three children, André Borschberg lives in Nyon, Switzerland, in a house built with environmentally friendly technologies and materials.
Main Life Events
- 1952: born in Zürich on December the 13th.
- 1970-76: Masters in Mechanical Engineering, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland
- 1977-78: Certificates in Financial Management and Business Management, HEC, Lausanne, Switzerland
- 1977-82: Product Manager at Castolin + Eutectic, Lausanne, Switzerland
- 1982-83: Master in Management Science, Sloan School, MIT, Boston, USA
- 1983-87: Consultant at McKinsey, Zürich, Switzerland / New York, USA / Tokyo, Japan 1987-96: Partner and Manager of Venture Capital and Capital Development Funds at Lowe Finance S.A.
- 1996-2001: Founder, Chairman of the Board, Video Games and Internet Connection at Quanta S.A., Lausanne, Switzerland
- 2002-2003: Innovative Silicon S.A., PSE Lausanne, Cofounder, new DRAM Memory Technology
- Since 2004: CEO and co-founder of Solar Impulse S.A.
- 2010: First day and night flight with a solar airplane with a duration of more than 26 hours
- 2015: First half of the First Round-The-World Solar Flight completed. André completes the longest solo solar flight in history from Nagoya to Hawaii.
- 2016: the first round-the-world solar flight is completed in July, after more than 40'000km without fuel. It is a first for energy!
Honors & Awards
- Doctor Honoris Causa
- Award of the German Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics (DGLR) Médaille Aéronautique Française
- Aerosuisse Award
- Honourable Company of Air Pilots Master’s Medal
- Brunswick Prize
- Officer of the Order of the Alawite
- Duration: 26 hours, 10 minutes, 19 seconds (Solar Night Flight in Western Switzerland, 07-08 July 2010, TOT 06.51AM, LT 09.02AM)
- Absolute height: 9,235m / 30,000ft (Solar Night Flight in Western Switzerland, 07-08 July 2010, TOT 06.51AM, LT 09.02AM)
- Gain of height: 8,744m / 28,688ft (Solar Night Flight in Western Switzerland, 07-08 July 2010, TOT 06.51AM, LT 09.02AM)
- Free distance along a course: 1,116km / 693 miles (Intercontinental Flights, Payerne-Madrid, 25 May 2012)
- Straight distance: 1,099.3km / 683 miles (Intercontinental Flights, Payerne-Madrid, 25 May 2012)
- Free distance: 1,506.5km / 939 miles (Across America, Phoenix-Dallay, 23 May 2013) Straight distance, pre-declared waypoints: 1,386.5km / 861.5 miles (Across America, Phoenix-Dallay, 23 May 2013)
- Free distance along a course, pre-declared waypoints: 1,487.6km / 924 miles (Across America, Phoenix-Dallay, 23 May 2013)
- Longest flight in a solar aircraft: 44 hours 10 min (2 days , 2 nights without fuel, Nanjing- Nagoya 01 June 2015)
- Free distance along a course: 2,614.5km (Nanjing-Nagoya 01 June 2015)
- Straight distance free flight: 1,720.3km (Nanjing-Nagoya 01 June 2015)
- Longest solo flight in aviation history: 117 hours 52 min (5 days 5 nights without fuel, Nagoya- Hawaii 03 July 2015)
- Straight distance free flight: 6,449.8km (Nagoya-Hawaii 03 July 2015)
- Free distance along a course: 7,039 km (Nagoya-Hawaii 03 July 2015)