Klaus Schwab

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Professor Dr.-Ing. Dr. rer. pol. Dr. h. c. mult.[1] Klaus Schwab with a statue of Lenin on his bookshelf.[2] He is author of the annual Global Competitiveness Report (since 1979), numerous articles and several books. His latest books are The Fourth Industrial Revolution (2016), a worldwide bestseller translated into 30 languages, Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution (2018), COVID-19: The Great Reset (2020) and Stakeholder Capitalism (2021).

Klaus Martin Schwab (b. 30 March 1938 in Ravensburg, Württemberg, Deutsches Reich) is a German engineer and economist best known as the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. The WEF is most famous for its annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, which attracts leading business, government, and civil society leaders from around the world.


Significant dates
Klaus Schwab and Venezuela’s President-elect Carlos Andrés Perez at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 1989
Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with WEF founder Klaus Schwab during a session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum
Klaus und Hilde Schwab

Father Eugen Schwab had drummed into his son that "if he wants to make a difference in the world, he should do an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer". But this was only to be the beginning of Schwab's extensive training. Between 1949 and 1957 Klaus attended the Spohn-Gymnasium in Ravensburg, which he graduated with Abitur. Between 1958 and 1962, Klaus worked for various engineering firms and in 1962 completed his mechanical engineering studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich with an engineering degree. In the following year he also completed an economics degree at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. From 1963 to 1966, Klaus worked as an assistant to the general director of the Association of German Mechanical and Plant Engineering (VDMA) in Frankfurt. In 1966, Klaus received his doctorate from ETH Zurich with a dissertation on the subject: "Long-term export credit as a business management problem in mechanical engineering."

Professor Klaus Schwab was born in Ravensburg, Germany in 1938. He is Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. He founded the Forum in 1971, the same year in which he published Moderne Unternehmensführung im Maschinenbau (Modern Enterprise Management in Mechanical Engineering). In that book, he argued that the management of a modern enterprise must serve not only shareholders but all stakeholders (die Interessenten), to achieve long-term growth and prosperity. Schwab has championed the multistakeholder concept since the Forum’s inception, and it has become the world’s foremost platform for public and private cooperation. Under his leadership, the Forum has been a driver for reconciliation efforts in different parts of the world, acting as a catalyst of numerous collaborations and international initiatives. In 1998, with his wife Hilde, he created the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, which seeks to identify, recognize and disseminate initiatives in social entrepreneurship that have significantly improved people’s lives and have the potential to be replicated on a global scale. The Foundation supports a network of over 350 social entrepreneurs around the world. In 2004, with the financial contribution received as part of the Dan David Prize, he established a new foundation: the Forum of Young Global Leaders (for leaders under 40). Seven years later, in 2011, he created the Global Shapers Community (for potential leaders between the ages of 20 and 30). The purpose of the two foundations is to integrate young people as a strong voice for the future into global decision-making processes and to encourage their engagement in concrete projects that address social problems. Schwab has encouraged the establishment of communities providing global expertise and knowledge for problem-solving. Among them is the Network of Global Future Councils, the world’s foremost interdisciplinary knowledge network dedicated to promoting innovative thinking on the future. The Forum employs over 700 people, with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and additional offices in New York, San Francisco, Beijing and Tokyo. An engineer and economist by training, Professor Klaus Schwab holds doctorates in Economics (summa cum laude) from the University of Fribourg, in Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and a Masters of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 1972 he became one of the youngest professors on the faculty of the University of Geneva. He has received numerous international and national honours. His latest books are The Fourth Industrial Revolution (2016), a worldwide bestseller translated into 30 languages, and Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution (2018). During the course of his wide-ranging career, Schwab has received numerous honours. He holds 17 honorary doctorates, and national medals of honour, including the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun of Japan, the Grand Cross with Star of the National Order of Germany and the Knight of the Légion d’Honneur of France. He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II – Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG). Outside his work, he has a broad range of academic, cultural and public service interests. He is a regular swimmer, mountain walker and an enthusiastic participant in the Engadin Ski Marathon.[3]


Schwab as publisher of the World Economic Forum's 2010 "Global Redesign" report postulates that a globalized world is best managed by a self-selected coalition of multinational corporations, governments (including through the UN system), and select civil society organizations (CSOs).[4] He argues that governments are no longer "the overwhelmingly dominant actors on the world stage" and that “the time has come for a new stakeholder paradigm of international governance”. The WEF's vision includes a "public-private" UN, in which certain specialized agencies would operate under joint state and non-state governance systems.[5]

Short chronology

  • 1957 Graduated from the Humanistisches Gymnasium in Ravensburg, Germany
  • 1962 Dipl. Ing., Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland
  • 1963 Lic.ès.sc.écon. et soc. (summa cum laude) University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 1966 Doctorate in Engineering (Dr. Sc. Tech.), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland
  • 1967 Doctorate in Economics (Dr. rer. pol.), University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 1967 Master of Public Administration, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA
  • 1958-1962 Experience on the shop floor of several companies
  • 1963-1966 Assistant to the Director-General of the German Machine-building Association (VDMA), Frankfurt
  • 1967-1970 Member, Managing Board, Sulzer Escher Wyss AG, Zurich, a manufacturing company with activities in several countries and over 10,000 employees

Memberships and academic activities

  • 1972-2003 Professor for Business Policy, University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • After 2003 Honorary Professor, University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1993-1995 Member, United Nations High-Level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development 1996-1998 Vice-Chairman, United Nations Committee for Development Planning
  • Honorary Professor, Foreign Affairs University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China
  • Honorary Professor, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
  • Member of the Royal Academy of Morocco, North Africa
  • Trustee, The Peres Center For Peace, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Member of the Board, Lucerne Festival, Lucerne, Switzerland • Founding Member, Climate Leadership Council[6]


Schwab is a locational German name, first given to someone who lived in the medieval dukedom of Swabia in southwest Germany, now Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. This region took its name from the first century BCE Germanic tribe given the Latin name Suebi or Suevi. Schwab family history was first recorded in Franconia and Mecklenburg and includes Ulrich Schwab, the first Count of Nemerow. Variations on the spelling include Schwab, Schwebel, and Swab. German American Schwab genealogy began around 1700 in Pennsylvania and includes financier Charles Schwab.


Klaus was the son of Eugen Wilhelm Schwab (b. 27 April 1899 in Roggwil, Bern, Switzerland; d. 1982 in Ravensburg, West Germany) and, as many sources claim, his wife Emma Gisela, née Kilian divorced Jekelius (b. 5 October 1900 in Karlsruhe, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire; d. 20 March 1979 in Bruchsal, Baden-Württemberg). Emma, the daughter of the well known choir singer from Karlsruhe Friedrich "Fritz" Wilhelm Kilian (13 September 1873 – 24 March 1944; Hoftheater 1899-1902, 1914-1916, Staatstheater 1916-1944), had married Karl Hans Jekelius[7] (b. 20 March 1895 in Langendorf near Kronstadt, Siebenbürgen) on 18 October 1919 in Karlsruhe (at least two children, Aline, born in 1923, and Kurt Jr., born in 1925), but the marriage didn't last. On 2 October 1926 she married Eugen Wilhelm Schwab, with whom she had two or three children: Hans Ernst (b. 13 October 1927 in Ravensburg), Ulrich Karl (b. 17 February 1930) and possibly Klaus. Contrary to what obscure isolated sources claim,[8] mother Emma and no Jewish ancestry at all. Klaus Schwab is also not descended from the Rothschild family, as sometimes claimed.[9]

Klaus' grandfather Jakob Wilhelm Gottfried Schwab (1870–1928), a mechanical engineer, was born in Karlsruhe (Grand Duchy of Baden) and married Marie Lappert (b. 17 September 1875 in Kirchberg, Burgdorf, BE, Switzerland) in 1898 in Roggwil, where they lived for a short while. Father Eugen Wilhelm Schwab was born there but raised in Karlsruhe and would become, like his father, a loyal subject of Friedrich II, the last Grand Duke of Baden. He became Managing Director, Escher Wyss & Cie. [Co.] ca. 1930 (interlocked with Sulzer AG, Andritz AG, Stoll and Festo AG) and continued with the company as President Emeritus until his death in 1982. He was Vice- President and President of the Ravensburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (1958–1982), he was also officer of the Ravensburg Rotary.

Eugen and Emma divorced, some say shortly after Klaus' birth. His father married Erika Epprecht (31 December 1906 in Zurich). Some sources state, Emma left Eugen before having Klaus, this would mean, Erika was his mother, but this cannot be proven. In his 2021 published book Stakeholder Capitalism, Klaus wrote on the dedication page: “To my parents, Eugen Wilhelm Schwab and Erika Epprecht, who taught me firsthand the value of education, collaboration, and the stakeholder principle”. Eugen and Erika would (also) become son Prof. Dr. Dr. Urs Rainer (12 March 1941; d. 19 December 2021 in Chur). Emma Gisela also married again, for a third time, to Dr. Heinrich Kohring.


Olivier Martin Schwab (2013) and Nicole C. Schwab

In 1971, Schwab married his fiancée Hilde, née Stoll (b. 1947 in Aarburg). They have two children: Olivier Martin, born in 1973, and Nicole C., born in 1975. Hilde, chairperson and co-founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, World Economic Forum Geneva, is honorary citizen of the municipality of Davos since 1999 and became Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (Knight) in 2021.

Joined husband Klaus Schwab in 1970 as first collaborator in the organization known today as the World Economic Forum. In 1998, together with her husband, created and endowed the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship to provide social entrepreneurs with a platform where they can engage global business and political leaders to solve social and environmental challenges. The Schwab Foundation has today a global network of over 350 leading social innovators. Has been instrumental in infusing a cultural, social and environmental spirit into the Forum’s activities, including the co-creation of the “Crystal Awards” to honour outstanding artists from across the world. Serves on the advisory boards of a number of organizations, including International Bridges to Justice, Global Dignity and La Chartreuse de Neuville.

Orders, awards and honours (excerpt)

Klaus Schwab marries Hilde in 1971
  • 1988 Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1995 Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1997 Knight of the Légion d’Honneur of France
  • 1997 Golden Grand Cross of the National Order of Austria
  • 1997 Medal of Freedom of the Republic of Slovenia
  • 2002 National Order of the Republic of Poland, Commander’s Cross with Star
  • 2002 Highest-level Order of Friendship of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • 2003 Order of Stara Planina, First Class, Bulgaria
  • 2005 Decoration of First Degree for Outstanding Giving, Jordan 2006 Knighted by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II: Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG)
  • 2008 Award “For merits to the Republic of Lithuania”, Degree - Commander’s Cross
  • 2011 Order of the Polar Star of the Mongolian People’s Republic
  • 2012 Grand Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 2012 Mexican Order del Aguila Azteca
  • 2013 Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun of Japan
  • 2014 Colombian Order of San Carlos
  • 2018 Friendship Medal for outstanding contribution to 40 years of China’s reform and opening policies


  • 1991 Honorary Doctorate of Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Québec, Canada
  • 1992 Honorary Doctorate of Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico
  • 1996 Honorary Doctorate of Economic University Bratislava, Slovak Republic
  • 1999 Honorary Doctorate of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 1999 Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel
  • 2002 Honorary Doctorate of Science of London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom
  • 2008 Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Kazan State University, Tatarstan
  • 2009 Honorary Doctorate of the University of Latvia
  • 2009 Honorary Doctorate of the European Business School, Germany
  • 2009 Honorary Doctorate of Nankai University, Tianjin, People’s Republic of China
  • 2010 Honorary Doctorate of Economics of the Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City
  • 2011 Honorary Doctorate of Economics of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 2012 Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
  • 2015 Honorary Doctorate of Science of KAIST, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
  • 2017 Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy of Haifa University, Israel
  • 2017 Honorary Doctorate of Letters of the National University of Singapore
  • 2017 Honorary Doctorate of Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania

Selected awards since 2000

  • 2000 Annual Award of the International Institute of Education
  • 2000 Annual Award and Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association, USA
  • 2001 Candlelight Award presented by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
  • 2002 Annual Award of the Fondation pour Genève
  • 2002 Guggenheim Humanitarian Award
  • 2002 ICCJ – International Council of Christians and Jews Award
  • 2004 Dan David Prize, Tel Aviv University
  • 2005 Transatlantic Bridge Award 2006 Freedom of the City of London
  • 2006 UCD Ulysses Medal , University College Dublin, Ireland
  • 2007 Admission into the German Business Hall of Fame
  • 2010 Atlantic Council Global Citizen Award
  • 2016 Reinhard Mohn Price for Responsible Entrepreneurship
  • 2016 Progress Medal, Society for Progress, INSEAD
  • 2018 Global Economy Price, Kiel Institute for the World Economy

External links

2030 Vision


  1. Dr. h. c. mult. is the abbreviation for Doctor honoris causa multiplex, the academic Latein term for having more than one honorary doctorate.
  2. Schwab’s Admiration for Lenin
  3. Professor Klaus Schwab
  4. Everybody's business: strengthening international cooperation in a more interdependent world – report of the global redesign initiative. World Economic Forum (May 2010).
  5. Martens, Jens (2020). "The Role of Public and Private Actors and Means in Implementing the SDGs: Reclaiming the Public Policy Space for Sustainable Development and Human Rights", Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights, Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Rights. Cham: Springer, 207–220. DOI:10.1007/978-3-030-30469-0_12. ISBN 978-3-030-30468-3. 
  6. Klaus Schwab
  7. Karl Hans was the son of August Jekelius (1861-1915), then judge of the Siebendörfer, and his wife Emma, ​​née Meschendörfer (1867-1962). His younger brother was Erich Wolfgang Jekelius (1889–1970), a prolific geologist, paleontologist and genealogist.
  9. Gründer des Weltwirtschaftsforums stammt nicht von der Familie Rothschild ab