It is safe to say the Thai-Finnish Chamber of Commerce (TFCC) has been revamped recently, with a new competent Board that is now giving this Chamber a needed injection, and also with a brand new Executive Director in Ms Pornpimon Kulchotirat (khun Grace), plus the new Finnish across-the-board teamwork within Team Finland.
ScandAsia learns more via Karri Kivelä, speaking as one of the Directors of the Board of TFCC (elected in the fall of 2014), about the new changes.
“I’m in charge of Partnerships for the Chamber,” begins Karri, “I work very closely with the Finnish Embassy, Finpro and Team Finland trying to come up with new ideas how to help our members and partners to improve their business activities in Thailand and in SEA. I also intend to work very closely with the other Nordic Chambers.”
Professionally Karri works for Logonet Group (with operations in Thailand since 1992 as its Asian head office).
“Logonet provide technical work wear and promotional products to our international customers worldwide. I work as the Business Development Manager and my most important job is to network with people, plan and execute creative service packages for them and improve their business through product based marketing programs.”
In addition to Karri, TFCC’s Board consists in another 10 Directors and also one Advisor, all in all constituting a team with vast experience within many different business sectors and positions. Several of its Finnish members possess at least 15 years of experience in Thailand and Asia.
Mr Pornpracha Wattanakijsiri was elected as the President of TFCC for the 2 year term 2015-2016 and he is committed to strive for better and stronger business relationships between Thailand and Finland for the benefit of their members and friends through their vast network of business enterprises and commerce associations, says the TFCC website.
TFCC has also invested in recruiting the new Executive Director and a new office.
“Khun Grace started in late March this year. She is now running TFCC alone and we are in process of adding one more person to the TFCC office to accompany her. She is a Chulalongkorn graduate and she has been studying and living in Europe and wants to get new contacts and experience in working for TFCC,” says Karri.
“Indeed, we have a very good Board at the moment. The leading philosophy in electing Board Directors has been not what the Chamber can do for you but what you can do for the Chamber. We have all the talent needed and a will to create a more active role for the Chamber as part of Team Finland and all their representative organizations within this area. This means concrete actions that help Finnish companies to start and run business in SEA as well as doing our best to tell the SEA countries and organisations what business opportunities are available in Finland.“
In this regard Team Finland (TF) should be introduced, as it is a new organisation since early 2013, including a global network around the world which brings together all Finnish authorities, publicly funded organisations (such as ministries, diplomatic missions, Finpro, Tekes, Finnish cultural and science institutions, Finnvera, Finnfund and regional networks led by Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment) and other key parties with ties to Finland. Each team has a work programme and a designated coordinator with information on the network’s local activities and services.
The TF network brings together Finland’s operations in the field of external economic relations, the internationalisation of enterprises, foreign investment in Finland and country branding – both at home and abroad – with the objective to build a cross-organisational network for deeper cooperation and customer service, driven by common goals.
Team Finland here is coordinated form the Embassy of Finland in Bangkok and also includes Finpro, aside TFCC.
Commenting on this formation Karri says: “Finpro has gone through many organisational changes and now Mr. Kai Tuorila is their only representative in Thailand. Kai has over 25 years of experience in this area. I’m also very happy that we have an active and creative Finnish Ambassador, H.E. Kirsti Westphalen, who leads our Team Finland organization, where we all aim for the same goal. TFCC signs Partnership agreements with companies and in their benefit programs we tie in also the benefits offered by the whole Team Finland organisation. This is the way a small country’s local representatives can provide a wider selection of partner benefits. We are constantly planning new benefits to our partners and asking them questions how we can help them.”
TFCC serves and promotes trade activities between Thailand and Finland and in terms of connecting with the business community back in Finland the Chamber can also play a role.
“In Finland there are now companies run by ex-Finpro international consultants who organize tours within Finland briefing Finnish companies how to succeed in international markets. Our Team Finland here in Thailand can then take responsibility to guide these companies when and if they choose to operate in the opening ASEAN markets.”
Finpro also offers its services also beyond Thailand in neighbouring countries Cambodia, Lao and Myanmar.
“Team Finland operators here focus on some key sectors in the bilateral operations between Thailand and Finland. Our TFCC Board Director and Ambassador already succeeded with an Education project between Oulu University in Finland and the Greater Bangkok area. In this project Finnish world class education system is presented to Thai teachers and hopefully this will improve the standard of education in Bangkok and later wider in Thailand.”
Other key areas where Finland has a lot to give to Thailand fall in the categories life sciences, clean tech, design and architecture.
Networking events arranged by TFCC will focus on offering something with differentiation.
“We want always to offer something special, as there are so many networking events already organised by other larger Chambers. Again, as many large networking events are crowded with service providers, we try to attract top management decision makers to our selected events. Then again we want to provide our members some very casual monthly pub evenings just to relax and have fun in the Finnish way.”
Planning ahead TFCC for its part will increase its role as a communication organisation, according to Karri Kivelä.
“All the money we get in goes to increased communication benefiting our members and partners. The change from last year already can be seen on our new website. We want to post more news, we want to cooperate more with other Chambers, especially with the other Nordic Chambers. We encourage companies to be in contact with us much more that before as we can save them lots of time and money if they only dared to ask. We can organise events sponsored by any company instead of having them do all the work. We can introduce them to people within our networks. Where are the people who pro-actively seek information and contacts? Early bird gets the worm.”