Meet the people behind TEDxZurich – 2023

Ever wondered who pulls the strings behind TEDxZurich? Who contributes their time to organising several TEDx events all year round to make it a memorable experience for all? While the spot light is put on our speakers and their innovative talks, today we want to shed the light on the people behind the scenes who tiredlessly and passionately make these magic events happen. A diverse dream team of curious people from all walks of life with one mission: to share ideas worth spreading.

Meet founding member Hugo who has been hooked on TED since the first TEDGlobal event in Oxford in 2005. Since then he has continuously been finding ways to contribute to the TED community, initially by supporting with translation projects for TEDTalks. And when TED started the TEDx programme in 2009 he jumped on the opportunity to join the founding team for TEDxZurich.

Hugo is actively volunteering at several different organisations through a clearly defined commitment and describes volunteering as a broad category ranging from occasionally helping out to joining a professional organisation like TEDxZurich. ‘There is no salary, but the experience here is similar to working at a startup’, he says.
And what is it that keeps him so actively involved almost 20 years later, still? 

Hugo Schotman (Photography: Elizabeth D’Alessandro)

‘It is very fulfilling to me personally to learn and figure out things by doing. Things that hopefully make the world better.’


Production associate Jacky has been with TEDxZurich since 2019 when she joined as a one-day volunteer – and stayed. The IT consultant has since been a pillar in the production team scheduling the entire event, live-show calling, miking up speakers and hosts, and co-organising the main event, including video production and streaming. 

Volunteering resonates deeply with the 25 year old who has been volunteering since the early age of eleven – teaching karate to other kids. 
Not only has her journey with TEDx enriched her knowledge about event technology but it has also helped building her self-confidence, improved her English and it is continually nudging her out of her comfort zone.

Jacqueline Degen

‘Volunteering is my way of making a positive impact in the world and continuing to learn from a diverse team – an opportunity that formal employment often falls short of providing.’ 


Robotics guru Marko first heard of TED during a physics lesson at his local high school in Slovenia and felt enlightened. Upon starting his studies in 2013 he joined TEDxLjubljana and witnessed its growth over the years to the point that there was simply no large enough theatre in the country to host the event. When his master studies took him to Zurich it was clear he needed to join TEDxZurich where he now leads the Salon team. Almost 5 years later he is still as excited about it as that kid back in high school.

While the automation nerd lives for the T in TED he loves the diverse TED talk format as it allows to deep dive into ideas that may otherwise feel too complex to us or simply not within our range of interests.

Volunteering to Marko means giving to the community for free – yet getting back so much more: an amazing group of friends, each with their own story, their own life views, their own expertise. Additionally, it’s a chance to get to know the speakers, polish their talks and help them grow, have countless debates and challenge their opinions, while also acquiring a large array of event management skills.

Marko Panjek

‘As volunteers we are passionate about what we do and are more prepared to go the extra mile. While we are not paid, the satisfaction it brings is well worth it!’


Florian’s story is similarly intriguing. While working in a cafe back in 2018 as a student he overheard a customer talking about TEDxZurich. Being a huge TED fan he just realised there was a local TEDx organisation. Long story short, within a few weeks he was hired into the Salon team, a few years later he saw himself co-leading the TEDxZurich team and is now member of the board.

As a product manager for a Swiss fintech he likes solving problems creatively and he just loves the thrill of organising an event. ‘TEDxZurich gives me the opportunity to do just that while contributing to a good cause – all while being surrounded by brilliant, likeminded people’, he smiles.

The chess player and long-distance runner believes volunteering is a great chance for young people to try out what they might want to do in life but in a more creative setting. They also get the chance to manage complex tasks much sooner than they would in a paid job. 

And Florian’s biggest lesson learnt on this TEDx journey?

That everything will work out just fine. When you’re in the middle of planning an event, small issues can seem super important and can become extremely stressful while the audience may not even notice. And in the end, everything falls neatly into place.

Florian Bucher (Photography: Sören Funk)

‘When I joined TEDxZurich I was a 21-year-old kid from a small town in Switzerland. I feel TEDxZurich has helped me immensely in my personal and professional growth, I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.’


Charizze’s TEDx journey began in 2017 as she discovered TEDx and attended one event after another. She was blown away by the energy she experienced at each event. A year later the product manager joined the TEDxZurich team to follow her passion of designing memorable event experiences through event direction, experience design, moderating and now speaker coaching. 

The passionate rock climber describes volunteering as a heartfelt commitment, an investment of her time and skills. Not only does she experience deep fulfilment in return but Charizze also mentions an increased self-awareness. And the best of all? Through TEDx she formed meaningful relationships within the community, many of whom she is now glad to call good friends. 

Charizze Wong (Photography: Sören Funk)

TEDx plays an important role in my life. It has been teaching me about the magic of teamwork through diversified team dynamics and I’ve also come to understand my strengths and weaknesses more profoundly’


Sarah Ebling

          Sarah Ebling holds a professorship in Accessibility Studies at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and is a senior researcher at the University of Zurich. Her research focuses on natural language processing in the context of disabilities and special needs, specifically, sign language technology and automatic text simplification. Her groups’ contributions involve artificial intelligence techniques with a strong emphasis on user involvement. She is involved in various international and national projects and leads a large-scale Swiss innovation initiative entitled „Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies“ (2022-2026;