In November I took part in the most recent edition of the “Global Citizen Forum” where the theme was Human Metamorphosis. Over two days in sunny Ras Al-Khaimah, 400 like-minded people from all walks of life attended various workshops and panel discussions. Among the guests were diplomats, business people, celebrities, and scholars. I had the pleasure of speaking to Caroline Scheufele, artistic director and co-president of Chopard, the Swiss-based house of luxury. Caroline Scheufele and her brother Karl-Friedrich inherited the company from their parents Karl and Karin Scheufele, who had bought it back in 1963.
Caroline Scheufele is accredited for expanding the family business into fine jewelry. She also lays claim to fame as the woman who redesigned the coveted Palme d’Or trophy for the Cannes Film Festival in the late 1990s. For over 25 years, Chopard has been the official partner of the event.
In addition to her phenomenally successful professional career, Caroline has long been a philanthropist. I asked her more about the causes she supports and what it means to be a global citizen.
What are some of the key causes you’ve been involved in over the years?
While we do not have our own charity, we do help many different foundations, whom I would like to think of as friends. We’re talking about people like Jose Carreras, who has a very big foundation focused on leukemia, and my father is very much involved with that. I support Elton John’s AIDS foundation. I believe Elton made a big difference in the entire world not only through his music but also through his talks and his communication. Hopefully soon, there will be some very good news about a type of vaccine that will really prevent AIDS and heal it.
I am also a very close friend of Petra Němcová with her foundation, “All Hands On.” She builds schools across the globe, particularly in places hit by natural disasters, and she’s doing a great job with a very small team. I’ve been to one of our schools in Nepal, and I say our school because it means a lot to all of us. It is very nice to see all these kids so happy, having the opportunity to attend school. Education gives them a bright future.
We have a great example in the Middle East with Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, who has done an incredible job with her foundation, “Education Above All.” She has put over 10 million kids in school. That is a huge achievement. She’s right in saying that “without education, we are not going to change the planet.”
What are your thoughts on the distribution of global wealth? How does this affect different countries and prevent them from progressing?
I think, unfortunately, it often has to do with who is running the country, because in many cases the governments are not doing their job. I see running a country as similar to running a company. It must be run properly with a structure and fair distribution of wealth. This is very important.
What would be your message to our readers?
We must respect our planet, and be more personable to our neighbors, and to whoever we meet because everybody is a person, and everybody is a child of this Earth. I think we have to be humbler and less power-hungry. Then perhaps we can start to make it all a better world.
We should also think of ourselves as global citizens. When you are a global citizen and embrace international values, you will be more open-minded. It’s beautiful to meet people from other countries, to learn and discover their cultures.