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1. Monika Sprüth

Co-owner, with Philomene Magers, Sprüth Magers Galleries

London/Berlin/Köln

What elements would a perfect business city have?
It should be the place in the world where culture merges. Culture understood in a broad context reduced not only to art, music, design, architecture, theatre… The city where all contradictions of the world are experienceable and tangible.

How important is quality of life when choosing a base?
Quality of life has a practical and intellectual aspect. Creative architecture in beautiful urban or rural settings. A house with a view of a lake, a river or the sea. With young children close to good and creative schools. A mix between anonymous privacy and friends who share the same interests and discourse. And, most importantly, to have the possibility to see matches of my favourite football club – the professionals and the youth teams.

Which cities are getting it right?
Cities that understand that their strength is mainly based on their history and culture. Places that are always on the borderline between collapse and never-ending cultural regeneration – here culture can grow. Melting pots: cities such as Berlin, New York, London.

If you could be based in any city, where would that be?
I cannot make up my mind. Objectively, all cities that have charisma and vibrancy like Berlin or London are great, perfect places for our galleries. Personally, my preferences change quite often and it seems the easiest to stay where my football club 1.FC Köln is located: Köln!

2. Jean-Claude Biver

CEO of Hublot

Geneva

What elements would a perfect business city have?
Quality of the environment, quality of the air, quality of the traffic, good communication, a strong and effective university, good recruitment possibilities, important artistic activities and good connections.

How important is quality of life when choosing a base?
It’s very important, as we have a direct correlation between quality of life and quality of work.

Which cities are getting it right?
Zürich. It has an intercontinental airport 10 minutes from the city, and a central position in Europe. The dimension of the city is still very human, it’s very small with excellent air quality.

And wrong?
Jakarta. The traffic is terrible, it makes one mile an eternity.

If you could be based in any city, where would that be?
Geneva.

3. Brett Godfrey

CEO of Virgin Blue

Brisbane

What elements would a perfect business city have?
It needs the ability to recognise and support the immediate and long-term needs of the businesses it wishes to attract and retain. It should have sufficient infrastructure in place or the plans and resources to expand. Access to an international airport and decent airline schedules are a necessity as is the flexibility, enthusiasm and innovation of the local government and city council.

How important is quality of life when choosing a base?
It's essential. A base that offers quality lifestyle and low cost of living provides distinct recruitment advantages.

Which cities are getting it right?
Brisbane, Virgin Blue’s home base. We weighed up factors including operating costs, aviation links, cost of living and lifestyle before selecting Brisbane.

And wrong?
Each city has its advantages. What’s perfect for one business may not be for another.

If you could be based in any city, where would that be?
How about a tropical island somewhere?

4. Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo

Chief executive of Nokia

Helsinki

What elements would a perfect business city have?
People are the most important element, the availability of people who work for us and with us, and our partner base. Infrastructure of course, and a bit of sunshine doesn’t hurt.

How important is quality of life when choosing a base?
Quality of life is very personal. There’s no single definition for it.

Which cities are getting it right?
I would like to mention one city which has been very helpful and supportive for our needs: Beijing. We have expanded a lot there recently and built new local headquarters there in one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the world.

If you could be based in any city, where would that be?
Three cities come to mind, the three Bs: Berlin, Boston and Beijing. But I’d like to mention something that’s not noticed so often, namely that for many global companies, Helsinki is quite good. It’s in between East and West, and the time zone is good. It’s very easy to do business there.

5. Robin Chase

Co-founder and CEO of Zipcar

Cambridge, USA

What elements would a perfect business city have?
Free wi-fi access everywhere, mixed-use downtown, lots of transport options for short-term visitors (good walking, transit, shared cars, taxis), and a unique sense of the city.

How important is quality of life when choosing a base?
It’s almost everything. Most people are willing to accept a lower income job if their quality of life is high.

Which cities are getting it right?
I don’t think any city has all the elements. There are many great cities – I haven’t been to them all, but they include Boston, New York, San Francisco, Portland, Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam (actually most cities and towns in Holland), Tokyo (and Nara, where I recently visited).

And wrong?
Los Angeles, Phoenix, Atlanta – most American small towns. Some cities could become gems with just a little nudge – Istanbul for example. Cities that let me go about my routine life without a car win every time.

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