When Anders Lundquist looks back on the past 20 years he has spent in Thailand, he has every reason to be proud of his achievements. Not only is his own recruitment company Pacific 2000 expanding and opening up new braches, but he can also be pleased with his contribution to Swedish business life in Thailand. Through it all his keyword has been to connect people.
Up through the 1980’s there was no such thing as a Swedish Chamber of Commerce. That was until Anders Lundquist arrived in Bangkok to work for SEBanken. With a background as a Manager in the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in London it was only natural for him to take part in forming the Thai-Swedish Business Association which superseded the Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce . In February 1989 the Thai-Swedish Business Association was inaugurated by HM Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. One year later it was upgraded to the Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce as we know it today.
“Our vision from the start was to have a forum and a voice in the Thai-Swedish business community and to foster friendship and understanding, to promote business, trade and investment between our two countries, also regarding cultural and sporting events,” Anders Lundquist, 64, says.
Of course, Anders was very active in the Chamber from the start. He served as the very first Chamber President from 1990 to 1994, and again from 2000 to 2002. He was on the Board for 12 years.
“I had the pleasure and honour to serve as President and in some of our efforts we were forerunners. For example, one of our visions was to promote Swedish related business in neighbouring countries and we were the first international Chamber to arrange business delegations to Vietnam and Laos,” Anders tells.
Another important issue for the Swedish Chamber took place in 1992.
“Of great importance was also to get increasingly more involved in joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce activities. In 1992 we got a seat on Thailand’s ‘Board of Trade.’ As the Chamber President I was selected as a member of the Board of Investment’s working group ‘Phoenix’ on how to improve Thailand’s image after the political incident that year,” says Anders.
He always knew the importance of connecting people in order to create business and ideas.
“Personally, I wanted a good mix of both Swedes and Thais in the Chamber. I also hoped to see smaller companies join, not only the major ones. And of course I wished to see ladies on the Board. The latter took a few years but it happened.”
Around the world
All his life Anders Lundquist has been involved in business which has taken him around the world. He was born in Skellefteå north of Stockholm but moved to the capital and took his MBA at the Stockholm School of Economics. When he was 25 years old he got a scholarship in London working for the Swedish Chamber of Commerce. He spent three years there, then four years in Nottingham as a Managing Director for a Swedish furniture company. It was here he met his British wife with whom he has two sons. In Nottingham he got a phone call from the Swedish Trade Council who wanted him to go to Jeddah in South Arabia as a Deputy Trade commissioner, later to be appointed as Trade Commissioner. He stayed there for three years.
“While I was in Jeddah, I was approached by SEBanken. They asked me to go to Sweden for an interview which lasted a whole day. Then they offered me to become Head of the Middle East covering 26 countries working at the Head Office in Stockholm. After five years, the Managing Director wanted me to go to Asia for SEB,” Anders recalls.
At that time SEB had four offices in Asia; Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and Tokyo. Anders agreed and moved with his family to Singapore in 1986. Four years later they asked him to open up the office and BIBF-Branch in Thailand. Anders couldn’t resist the challenge.
“We were the only Scandinavian bank in Thailand and it was very exciting,” says Anders who became very active in the business society starting up the Chamber and the SEB Branch at the same time. So, five years after, when SEB in 1995 asked him to move back to Stockholm in a promotion, he didn’t take it.
“I felt that I had done it before, so I asked for leave of absence. First, they declined but later they called me up and said I could take two years off,” Anders says.
Left the bank
He joined another company Thai Match as Managing Director and when the two years were over and SEB wanted him back to Stockholm, a break was inevitable. Again, it was all about connections for Anders.
“I decided to leave the bank but SEB was extremely supportive when I told them about my decision. I had been away from Sweden for too long and if I went back I felt my network would not be the same as when I left. I knew I would regret going back and not do anything else in life,” Anders says with honesty.
He left the bank and looked for the right opportunity to start a new career. And in a way the new career came to him.
“In Thailand I had many connections so I started noticing how numerous people were calling me when they needed help to in their search for talent. I knew I could do something with those connections, so I started up my own recruitment company Pacific 2000,” Anders tells.
Pacific 2000 is an executive recruitment/Headhunting company with around 100 international companies among their clients. Anders has offices in Bangkok, Siracha and Singapore and will soon open a new office in Vietnam. In Bangkok, the office is located at All Seasons Place and counts 12 staff that all focus on matching candidates and clients.
“My dream was to turn it into one of the leading firms in Thailand and the region and so far I’m very happy with the result,” he says and has high hopes for the growth.
“During the next two years I intend to hand over the daily running of the company to one of my Thai colleagues so I can focus on our regional expansion. Thereafter, I hope I will be able to follow further developments of the company from backstage for years to come,” he reveals.
Advice for the Chamber
Twenty years ago he started up the Thai-Swedish Chamber and in retrospect he is very satisfied with the achievements.
“Some 400,000 Swedes go to Thailand every year and 10,000 own a second home in Thailand. Trading has increased and I hope and think we have played a small part in that success,” Anders tells.
However, asked directly if he has any suggestion for improving the Chamber, his answer is:
“I think the Chamber should reactivate itself in networking events, like the after-office get-togethers. Before, we held networking in different company offices and it always started out with a little presentation about the company. My constructive advice is to meet in company premises instead of a hotel where everything is more impersonal,” he says.
Because for Anders Lundquist it is all about connecting people.