FACC PRESIDENT’S REPORT TO THE AGM
Welcome to the President’s Report to the Finland Australia Chamber of Commerce (FACC) Annual General Meeting 2015!
Membership Status and Sponsors
The Chamber Membership has decreased slightly since the last AGM in 2014. We are currently counting 41 members, compared to 47 in the previous period. The number of sponsors remains unchanged compared to last year (11).
Member Activities in 2014/2015
By tradition the Chamber participated in the annual Cruise with the Europeans in Sydney Harbour, on 5 November 2014. There were 29 Chamber guests present at the spectacular 2-hour cruise, supported by the European Chambers of Commerce. Now in its 15th year, the upcoming cruise is taking place on 12 November 2015 and we look forward to seeing our members and friends there again! As in previous years, we also invite you to the after party at King St. Brewhouse, across the wharf where the cruise ship will debark.
FACC has supported quarterly EuroMix – European Business Networking luncheon events in 2014 and 2015, held in Melbourne and in Sydney, organized by SwissCham Australia.
Chamber’s first event for 2015 was the second FACC Sydney Golf Day for members, held at the NSW Golf Club on 13 February 2015. The NSW Golf Club is one of the oldest in Australia and is situated on the northern headland of historic Botany Bay.
On 4 June 2015, FACC held a Breakfast Seminar Employee Incentives in partnership with BDO. BDO Tax Partner, Vanessa Priest, highlighted some key changes proposed and how it may impact employees and employers who are considering either participating or offering an employee share scheme from 1 July 2015. There were 33 guests attending this seminar.
As a way to bring members and potential members together, the Chamber organized and hosted the first traditional Crayfish Party on 29 August 2015. The selected venue for the fun afternoon event was Manly 16ft Skiff Club in Sydney The party was a great success, attended by 60 members and non-members from the Finnish community in Sydney, as well as representatives from Finpro and the Finnish Embassy. We look forward to making this party an annual tradition for our current and future members!
On 10 September 2015 in Sydney, FACC hosted a Boardroom Discussion Event on recent developments in Russia and the implications for its trading partners (i.e. Australia and Europe). Guest speaker was Kyle Wilson, Visiting Fellow, ANU’s Centre for European Studies. He talked about the developments of the past few years, what is happening now in Russia, what it means for Europe and its trading partners. The event was sold out with 16 attendees in total; preference was given to FACC members. Finland’s Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Pasi Patokallio, was also in attendance.
Employment Migration Seminar was held in Sydney on 8 October 2015, organized by FACC and supported by other European Chambers. The event focused on discussion around issues arising when employing a non-resident in Australia. The key speaker was Silke Koernicke, FACC President and the Special Counsel, Immigration and International Business at TressCox Lawyers, along with Rae Mozejko (Solictor, Employment Law). Panellists included Frank Ribuot (Chief Executive Officer, Randstad Australia), Stewart Meek (HR Manager, Cargotec Australia) as well as Christian Schoener (Director and Tax Specialist, CGSA Group). 28 people attended this seminar, targeted at senior management, HR executives and employees of multinational companies.
Throughout the previous 12 months Chamber held the monthly Executive Board meetings, followed by our networking drinks nights. Some of the new venues explored included The Lobo Plantation and Palings Kitchen & Bar at The Ivy.
As part of the Windows on Europe Film Festival in Australia in 2014, the program featured ‘Concrete Night (Betoniyö)’, directed by Finnish filmmaker Pirjo Honkasalo. The film premiere was screened in Sydney on 22 November and in Canberra on 25 November. The Chamber provided discounted tickets for our members and the take up rate was good.
This year the Finnish Society in Sydney Inc. celebrated 85 years! Chamber representatives attended the dinner reception held on 25 February 2015 in the Harbourview Lounge at The Kirribilli Club in Lavender Bay, Sydney.
Chamber was present at the Study Tour Exhibition – Swinburne Design Factory in Melbourne on 21 April 2015. Swinburne Design Factory collaborates closely through several programs with Aalto University, Helsinki and is part of Design Factory Global Network (DFGN). Guests had a chance to see an exhibition showcasing two Design Factory projects to Singapore and Shanghai & Helsinki. Also, students presented their learning experiences on travelling to Finland and doing projects in collaboration with Finnair on in-flight packaging. Hosts and guests were addressed by Geoff Stone, Finnair Country Sales Manager for Australia & NZ as well as Geoff Charnock, Secretary of the Chamber and the Honorary Consul for Finland in Sydney.
Chamber attended the SLUSH Down Under event in Melbourne on 22 April – a premier launch platform for local start-ups. It was organized for the first time in Australia, as part of the business technology event Connect Expo, in collaboration with the organizers of SLUSH Finland (Helsinki). The one-day event in Melbourne included a conference with a panel of experts, an exhibition and pitching competition for Australian start-up businesses. As part of the prize for two winning start-up companies (Sports Performance Tracking and Care Monkey), Finnair – Slush Down Under airline partner – provided flights to the main SLUSH event in Helsinki in November 2015.
FACC collaborated with the Finnish Embassy and Finpro Sydney on the advance preparation for the Australia-Finland Innovation Forum, which took place on 23 April 2015 in Melbourne. The event was facilitated by the Embassy in Canberra (attendance by Anti Niemelä and His Excellency Pasi Patokallio) in collaboration with the Victorian Government and the Small Technology Clusters Australia (STC) – aimed at focusing on driving links between Australian and Finnish business and government representatives and further developing as the first platform in building Australia – Finland innovation cooperation. Among ~45 participants, a large number of the Finnish business community were in attendance.
Representatives of the Chamber attended the CEO Round-Table for Finnish companies in Australia on 11 June 2015 in Sydney. The Finnish Embassy and Team Finland organized the event which was attended by representatives of Finnish companies in Australia (including Kemppi, Nokia, Comptel, Finnair, Luxus Worldwide and KONE). Antti Niemelä, Deputy Head of Mission at the Finnish Embassy in Canberra, presented on the potential EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and market access barriers (non-tariff barriers) that Finnish companies are facing in Australia.
Chamber was present at the media screening of a documentary film “The Will to Fly” in Sydney on 11 August 2015. The film presented an inspiring story about Lydia Lassila, the Team Finland ambassador in Melbourne, and her journey to becoming an Olympic champion, record holder and a mother. Lydia was also present at the brief networking session prior to the screening and we had the pleasure to chat to her about the film.
Sponsored by the FACC, Independence Day in Melbourne on 3 December 2015 is an invitation only event to celebrate the 98th anniversary of Finnish Independence. It will be held at the Westin Hotel in Melbourne and attended by representatives of the Finnish Embassy, including His Excellency Pasi Patokallio. It is the first time the FACC has held an Independence Day event and we are hoping for a gathering of around 150 people from the government, business and the local Finnish community. All paid members will be receiving an invitation.
EABC Trade Delegation to Finland
One of our members, Peter McLean – Vice President and Managing Director, Kalmar ANZ, is now also on the board of the European Australian Business Council (EABC). Further to joint efforts by FACC, Finpro and the Finnish Embassy, successfully lobbying to include Finland as one of their destinations in 2016 – the forthcoming EABC Business Mission will travel to Helsinki (30 June – 1 July 2016) as well as Brussels and Zurich. FACC would also like to acknowledge Kalmar’s special contribution to the success of this activity!
Key FABC Activities in Finland
Finland Australia Business Council (FABC) – the Finland / Helsinki sister organization of the FACC was successfully launched in Finland at the beginning of 2014. During their first year, FABC organised and co-organised several events and activities. At the end of 2014 the FABC had 25 members, including large companies/organisations, SMEs, and individual managers and professionals interested in Finland-Australia business relationships.
FABC will be co-hosting an Australia Finland Innovation Day event on 2 November 2015 in Espoo, in collaboration with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. It will focus on promoting cooperation in R&D and innovation between Australian and Finnish companies and other organisations. Opportunities and challenges will be discussed on the marketing and commercialization of Finnish innovations to Australian markets and vice versa.
Change of Board Members
Board Member Josefin Ahlgren, previously Managing Director at Martin Bencher (Australia), returned to Europe in late December 2014 to pursue business opportunities in Sweden. Jarkko Laukkanen has taken Josefin’s position on the board after her departure.
Furthermore, Lesley Doig, Anna Isenberg and Miselle Pons have advised that they will not be seeking re-election to the FACC Board in 2015. On behalf of all our members, FACC would like to acknowledge their support over the past years and thank them for their great contribution to Chamber’s activities and goals of promoting Finnish-Australian relationship! As always we encourage your participation in the Chamber and your feedback and suggestions are appreciated and always welcome!
We have successfully initiated the FACC ‘Melbourne Chapter’, holding an introductory meeting of the Steering Committee on 30 September 2015 in Melbourne. Facilitated by Sanna Ruuskanen, Corporate Sales Manager Australia at Finnair and FACC’s Executive Board Member, this initial meeting was attended by 16 Finnish business and academic community members, including representatives from the Finnish Embassy. The meeting was a great success – with the main goal to discuss ideas and prepare a draft of an action plan on how to revive FACC activities in Melbourne, re-engage existing members, as well as to attract new members and sponsors. We look forward to working together to improve the value proposition for our members / sponsors and organizing future events of interest in both Melbourne and in Sydney!
The Chamber would like to thank and acknowledge the generous support received from the following sponsors in 2015, hoping we will continue our collaboration in coming years.
• Stora Enso
Sydney, 22 October 2015