President's Report 2021
Welcome to the President’s Report to the Finland Australia Chamber of Commerce Inc. (FACC) 2021 – a challenging year by any measure!
The Chamber’s membership has again increased since the last AGM in 2020. While we had 47 members last year, this number has now risen to 61, which is very pleasing especially considering the difficult year it has been.
We warmly welcome our new corporate members ATS Timber, Neste Australia, Nordic Beverages, Saltuary and Brisbanen Suomiradio.
We thank our Platinum members Glaston and Wartsila; as well as Gold members HWL Ebsworth, Finnair, Stenhoj Australia and Peikko Australia for their continued support.
The Chamber acknowledges that due to COVID-19 restrictions in the past 18 months there have been less face to face member events since March 2020 than we would normally offer our members. In view of this, and to reduce the financial burden on our members during these challenging times, the board last year offered a 50% reduction of membership fees for the calendar year 2021. Due to the continued restrictions, existing FACC members will again be offered a50% reduction on membership fees for calendar year 2022.
Member Activities 2020-21
The Annual General Meeting was held virtually on 26 November 2020.
Sydney Networking Drinks were very successfully held at the new fresh location at the rooftop bar of Paragon Hotel at Circular Quay in 21 January and in 15 April. The Networking drinks are open to members and guests and have been a great opportunity to mingle with fellow Finns and FACC members. They are normally organised every quarter, and we look forward to continuing the tradition once lockdown is lifted.
The Annual Nordic Open Golf Day at Moore Park Golf in Sydney was cancelled in 2020, but fortunately was able to go ahead again in March 2021! The event is traditionally hosted by our Chamber in conjunction with the Swedish, Estonian and Norwegian Chambers.
June saw the members only “Meet the Ambassador” evening in Sydney with the recently arrived Ambassador to Australia her Excellency Satu Mattila-Budich; and Deputy Katja Karppinen as guests of honour. The Ambassador provided an overview of the Embassy priorities for the future; with opportunity for guests to talk with the Ambassador and enjoy the Nordic delicacies by Two Swedes Cooking & NordiChef Kati and Lonkero and Kukko Beer by EuroDrinks.
The highly popular Melbourne Nordic Engagement Lunches continue (pending lockdown) at the Denmark House every second month. Bringing together members of all Nordic business networks, the lunch promotes Nordic friendship and business engagement.
Also in Melbourne, our sold out TOVE movie screening in conjunction with the Scandinavian Film Festival has been postponed to 6 December, and will now be a combined Independence Day celebration.
Our Queensland members were invited to a The Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) evening event "IKEA People and Planet Positive Event" on July 13th at IKEA North Lakes. "A night of live music and a sustainable menu to compliment hearing how IKEA is working with an outlook of People & Planet Positive by focusing on 3 main change drivers of Healthy & Sustainable Living, Circular & Climate Positive, Fair &Inclusive."
…but as with everything in 2021… Webinars and online meetings ended up taking over the face-to-face interaction.
FACC first webinar “Looking Ahead” was presented by Olli Mustonen, who shared his thoughts around the current economic outlook as well as outline some interesting changes in the financial services sector, impacting our everyday lives. The webinar was presented to members only in December 2020, and again – by popular demand – to members and guests in February 2021.
In March we hosted “Finnish Founders Downunder” interactive online session with Susan Galvin from Galvin Watch Company and Tiina Hogg from Saltuary to learn about the businesses of these two extraordinary Finnish entrepreneurs in Australia.
In addition, we were able to offer several webinars hosted by our partners to our members:
- Webinar with Ambassador of Australia to Finland, Mr Bernard Philip, organised by Finland Australia Business Council (13 April)
- Online discussion around The Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the European Union organised by German Chamber. Presentations were made by The Australian Ambassador to Germany; Australia’s EU-FTA Chief Negotiator,(Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and EU Ambassador to Australia amongst others.
- “Australian Mining Ecosystem” report findings by Business Finland, Business Sweden and the Trade Council of Denmark (7 April)
The traditional annual highlights Cruise with the Europeans and Finnish Independence Dinner did not eventuate in late 2020 due to COVID restrictions. The Cruise is rescheduled now to April 2022; and we will shortly be in contact regarding Finnish Independence Day functions for 2021.
We continue to provide a monthly Finnish Business News newsletter to FACC members. We are very grateful to our honorary secretary and Business Finland representative Hartti Suomela for compiling this news for the benefit of our members.
The FACC board saw a major refresh in 2020.
Silke Koernicke has held the role of President with FACC since it’s inception, and has been an invaluable asset for the chamber. Silke chose not to continue with the Chamber due to her increased workload – we thank Silke for her huge contribution over the years. In addition, FACC long term board member Angela Foley stepped down from the board.
This saw a new – fully Finnish origin – executive board established.
2020-21 Executive Board members are
Minna Monaghan, President
Sanna Ruuskanen, Vice-President
Hartti Suomela, Secretary
Joakim Westerholm, Treasurer
Hartti Suomela from Business Finland has carried the central role of chamber secretary with great efficiency and knowledge for the past years. Hartti has recently relocated back to USA, and thus will not renominate for the position. We all thank Hartti for his outstanding support and hard work with the Chamber!
Katja Karppinen from the Finnish Embassy in Canberra relocated back to Europe and her position was filled recently by Heini Korhonen from the Embassy. We thank Katja for her excellent insights and look forward to working with Heini going forward.
Sydney 28 October 2021