SCCJ Chairman Gösta Tyrefors
Welcome back to work, and the SCCJ, after the holidays to what I hope will be a positive and profitable year. I know that for myself it certainly promises to be an exciting year. I would also like to say how honored I am to have gained your trust, and certainly feel the responsibility that comes with the chairmanship of the SCCJ.
I believe that this will also be an exciting year for the SCCJ. Not only is the Chairman—me—new, so is a large part of the Board. Also, for the first time we have a woman Board member.
I hope that I will be forgiven for saying that I see something of a generational change in the Chamber. I think I am the first Chairman who is not one of the “founding fathers” of 18 years ago.
The Board represents a dynamic group of people with many backgrounds and experiences. Our first board meeting in December was a very lively and creative meeting. There is no doubt that this is group of people who have great ambitions for the Chamber. We all agree that it’s time to take a hard look at what we are doing, and how this corresponds to our members’ needs.
Most chambers probably are facing the same challenge: that is, to try to balance the interest of sometimes very different groups of members. The Swedish CEO of a major Swedish company is probably not looking for the same thing as the Japanese CEO of a Swedish company, or of a Japanese CEO of a Japanese member company. Another quite different group is our individual members.
There is clearly a social side to the Chamber. The primary reason for some members to attend events is to socialize with friend and colleagues, and perhaps to indulge in a bit of “Swedishness” in this place far away from home.
For others, the business aspect is more important. They want to learn more about Japan and Japanese business practices (if they are not Japanese), and they want to network and create business contacts. The Chamber represents an opportunity to share experiences and learn from other members.
Yet another group is those who are primarily looking for new customers and clients. This member-to-member business—or, as some call it, “G2G” (gaijin-to-gaijin) business—is an important part of every Chamber, and something I think we should better recognize and facilitate.
I believe that fun is something that we are doing well. My ambition now is to focus on the “commerce” part of the Chamber of Commerce, and to try to make the SCCJ even more useful for its members.
The new Board has many ideas about how this can be done, and I think that you will see some interesting initiatives during the coming year. One such example which has already begun is the SCCJ Commerce Award. The initiative has been received very positively, and we have now nominated 15 companies for the Award. I can tell you that there are some really interesting and impressive stories out there.
But before I can say more, we in the Board need to do our homework. We will start by going out and listening to your opinions about the chamber—what you see in a positive way, and what you would like to change or improve. We will take this feedback, hopefully add some creative thinking, and come back to you with some ideas about how we think we can make the SCCJ an even better and more useful place to be.
All the best in 2011!
Swedish Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan