After graduating from high school, completed a commercial apprenticeship at the Nestlé factory in Eisenharz (Germany), and was then transferred to Nestlé in Frankfurt. Parallel to holding different positions within the Company, studied at Frankfurt University, where he graduated with a degree in business administration ("Diplom-Kaufmann").
From 1964 until 1980, different management positions within the Nestlé Company in Germany and, from 1975 on, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé-Gruppe Deutschland, Frankfurt. Finally, on 1st October, 1980, transfer to Nestlé in Switzerland as Executive Vice President of Nestlé S.A., Vevey, and Member of the Executive Committee.
In November 1981, nomination as Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé S.A. and from 1st June, 1990 to 5th June, 1997 both Chairman of the Board and CEO. As of 6th June, 1997, having relinquished the position of Chief Executive Officer, continued as Chairman of the Board of Nestlé S.A., Vevey Switzerland. On 25th May, 2000, relinquished the position of Chairman of the Board; named Honorary Chairman by the Board.