Interview with K. Chang, President of the Swiss-Thai Chamber of Commerce
Dear Khun Chang it is a great pleasure to welcome you as President of the STCC in our offices and I truly look forward to continue the work which we have started in the last 1 ½ years. This said, what was your motivation to put forward your candidacy for President of the STCC?
I have been a Director of the STCC for the last 6 years and have always appreciated the exchange with the Swiss-Thai business community. As I manage a company that maintains offices in Thailand as well as in Switzerland, it is important to me personally and professionally to support our business community and improve trade relations between the two countries. Even before my time as Director I also had great support from the chamber and the other members in our business endeavours. In being President I want to give back to our members the support I have received and ensure that they can count on the STCC. With the upcoming negotiations for a free trade agreement between Thailand and EFTA, I am also involved in the Thai EFTA business circle since its foundation in 2020 and see the need to move these negotiations forward for the benefit of our members, but also the entire communities of these countries. As I am active with our company in Thailand and Switzerland, I have wide experiences on how the two countries work and what difficulties that could be addressed to enhance trade.
Working on such important issues requires a high level of teamwork between a variety of stakeholders. It has been and continues to be my approach to foster this cooperation and create a team spirit to represent and promote our members interests. This is especially true of the One Switzerland approach, where government, educational institutions, etc. work closely with the private sector to enhance business. The last year has shown what can be achieved for the benefit of our members and the community, such as the inauguration of our new offices by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis. For these reasons I decided to make my calendar even busier than it already is and put forward my candidacy to represent the whole Swiss-Thai business community.
Having mentioned the upcoming EFTA-Thai FTA negotiations as one of the priorities that you see for the operation of the chamber, what additional topics are on your list to prioritize?
First of all, communication is key to the operation of the Chamber. Since the start of the Covid pandemic, which is still ongoing in many parts of the world, we have seen an increase in information and other communications from the Chamber. This was beneficial to operating businesses and staying ahead the wave as good as possible. However, I still see room for improvement and with my background, I also see opportunities when it comes to communicating directly with Thai government institutions on behalf of the Swiss-Thai business community. I also intend to start collecting feedback from our members to learn more about what is important to them. In this regard, we are already developing a survey among our members asking them about their ideas, needs and interests, and I hope to share it with the members soon.
My second priority is to ensure that we offer our members to contribute in a sustainable way to the growth and benefit of their own business but also for the people of Thailand. In this regard, I plan to resume CSR activities and want our Chamber to be a platform for our members to participate in and promote CSR activities. Following the motto "Do good and make it known". We also want to support our SMEs in particular so that they can have a wider reach through the Chamber and get support for their CSR programmes, etc.
My third priority is commitment to our future and by that, I mean the young professionals who will one day take over and grow into their role as future leaders. Having children of my own who have recently graduated from university, I want to ensure that the Swiss-Thai business community welcomes them with open arms and support. I believe that the STCC, with its multitude of very successful business people, can play a special role in this. We may not be familiar with the latest Tik Tok trends, but we can certainly give advice on how to run a successful and profitable business.
With such initiatives and projects, it of course also means that it would be difficult to tackle them by yourself. Luckily, you have now 2 vice-presidents and a very motivated Board of Directors on your side. What can our members and partners expect in this regard?
As already mentioned, a good team spirit and impeccable teamwork are the basis for moving forward and growing in a beneficial and stable way. Rome was not built in a day and Rome was not built alone. Therefore, I am truly grateful to have not only Khun Grace and Khun Sheena by my side as very capable and highly motivated Vice-Presidents, but also a Board of Directors that wants to drive ahead the activities and benefits that our Chamber can bring.
It is a new situation in our Chamber to have a double VP formation. Not only do they advocate for the interests of our members, but they also represent the Chamber in public and in meetings with the government to ensure maximum visibility of the Swiss-Thai business community in Thailand. There have also been changes in the composition of our board and I am pleased to say that almost half of our board members represent SMEs. On the other hand, traditional large Swiss companies are also represented. So, I think we have a good mix that will focus on the interests and problems of our business community and can support where needed.
On another note, we signed last year a Memorandum of Understanding with ETH as Leading House Asia for an internship programme that will hopefully host the first students in one of our member companies this year. How do you see the collaboration with institutions, including when it comes to innovation and education of the future workforce - two qualities that Switzerland is famous for?
Cooperation is the way forward. The pandemic and other recent events around the world have shown that we can only move forward and overcome difficulties together. The situation in relation to the pandemic in Europe have improved and people are travelling again, there remain however still difficulties in this regard, which might stay with us for sometime longer. But we need to get out of this crisis and re-ignite our economies to create jobs and livelihoods. Therefore, I see great potential for supporting and initiating cooperation between Thai and Swiss companies and institutions with a focus on innovation and vocational education.
Areas of interest at the moment are of course digitalisation, automation and the implementation of blockchain in the business world. In my opinion, there are still great partnerships to be built between Swiss and Thai businesses, but also with education institutions and associations, which will in the end also benefit our members. Therefore, I support such new initiatives and will actively pursue them in my role as President of the STCC.
Dear Khun Chang, thank you very much for this interview and for giving our members and friends a first insight into what you are planning together with the entire STCC board. I am sure we will soon see the first implementations that will benefit our members and the community. Finally, on a personal note, food is of course what many people love about Thailand and Switzerland and what brings people together, so what is your favourite Swiss and Thai dish?
My favourite Swiss dishes include fondue, especially Vacherin, and raclette, even though we don't eat it that often in our climate. But I always look forward to occasions when we can showcase these Swiss staples in Thailand. Swiss chocolate, of course, cannot be missing here and is something I always have in the fridge at home. When hiking in Switzerland or on a nice hot summer afternoon near the lakes, I also don't want to miss a cold Ramseier apple juice.
When it comes to Thai dishes, I can't settle on a particular favourite, but the traditional mango sticky rice is definitely right up there. I also always look forward to tastes from the south of Thailand, but prefer all my Thai food on the less spicy side.
Dear Khun Chang, thank you for taking the time to give our members, partners and friends a brief insight into what they can expect from the STCC in the future. I look forward to working closely with you in the interest of our members.