Meet the Swedish Chamber Committee Chairpersons

Jan Terlouw, Chairperson of the Sustainability Committee

The Sustainability Committee is still at the very beginning of its existence, with a planned start in early 2024. For the next year, the committee will work to strengthen the sustainability community within our network by bringing together sustainability experts and business leaders who actively implement substantial changes to their operations.

Driving the green transition together is one of the cornerstones the Swedish Chamber of Commerce wants to contribute to in the Netherlands. Its Sustainability Committee has the objective to assist this in two ways. Firstly, by creating a platform for exchanging knowledge and experiences about how member companies have implemented sustainability in their organisations. Both in their processes, as well as their products and services. Sharing of best practices across different domains will hopefully lead to new insights for individual members but also collectively. Secondly, the Committee aims to stimulate the creation of new business relations between Dutch and Swedish companies with the ambition to develop their green portfolios for the Dutch, Swedish and international markets.

Since the Committee starts in 2024, it is important for members to get to know each other’s work in this domain. The focus will be on the environmental aspects of sustainability, in particular climate change and circularity. How do the members contribute to mitigating climate change by reducing green-house gas emissions, both in their supply chains, operations and by end users? How do products and services of the members contribute to the possibility of end users adapting to a world with higher temperatures? Which steps are we towards a circular economy? Against these questions, two big worldwide trends driving this will be monitored: the energy transition and the materials transition.

One of the highlights for the Sustainability Committee in 2024 will be the Swedish Chamber Exclusive Sustainability Breakfast hosted by H.E. Ambassador of Sweden Mr. Johannes Oljelund. During this gathering, we will meet influential business leaders who are engaged in working towards a more sustainable future by developing their operations. We’ll delve into the transformation of traditional business models, engage in conversations with politicians and policymakers, and connect with the next generation of entrepreneurs and their innovative ideas that shape the future. Date tbc.

Carola Hoekstra, Chairperson of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is a complex topic for many companies, exceeding questions about gender balance to also cover other factors such as age, ethnicity, disabilities, and religion. It becomes increasingly important for companies to set up goals and strategies related to D&I. In 2024, the Swedish Chamber’s D&I Committee will, therefore, continue to contribute knowledge on this topic and create awareness through the activities of the Chamber. The aim of the Committee is also to ensure that each workshop and event inspires a broad range of sectors and member Companies and to highlight the importance of well-defined strategies as they improve efficiency and increase the profitability of companies.

The range of member Companies of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce is very diverse and at different stages in terms of implementing D&I policies. Their challenges related to D&I therefore differ a lot and many of the members are still in the learning process where they strengthen their knowledge with experience. At the D&I Breakfast events, leading experts and professionals working within this field are invited as speakers or panellists to share their knowledge on a variety of issues connected to D&I. The Breakfast events therefore offer people and companies within the network the opportunity to gain valuable insights that can strengthen their operations as well as their knowledge about the topic of D&I. The events also allow the members to broaden their network and gain eye-opening knowledge on the challenges that all members encounter at different stages of their learning process. 

The D&I Committee has only been active for one year and is open to input and influence on the content of the workshops and meetings. members are therefore encouraged to share their ideas on interesting topics or express what challenges they face regarding the topic of D&I that can be relevant to address through the upcoming events for next year. Specific topics for 2024 that could be of interest are; actions and topics at different stages of implementation of D&I policies, data drive D&I and attracting a diverse workforce.

Jan Sundelin, Chairperson of the Innovation & Tech Committee

In 2024, the Swedish Chamber’s Innovation & Tech Committee will continue to build on the thriving tech community within our network, and to foster relations between Sweden and the Netherlands. We aim to bring together tech experts, entrepreneurs, investors, and VCs to discuss trends ranging from AI to deep tech in the rapidly developing digitalization and tech landscape. As the Chairperson of the Innovation & Tech Committee, I invite entrepreneurs, CTOs, and tech professionals to join our network, and contribute to the Committee and the Tech Tables 2024.

In the recent report “Swedish Tech Industry 2023”, Tech Sweden reveals that the tech sector’s contribution to the Swedish economy has reached new heights. In 2022, the turnover of the tech industry surpassed 1,000 billion SEK, with a contribution to the GDP amounting to 350 billion SEK – surpassing the combined GDP contribution from the traditional basic industries. Despite economic fluctuations and an uncertain global environment, the tech industry has continued to grow into one of Sweden’s most substantial export segments. Tech not only holds significant importance for Sweden’s economy, but also serves as an underlying factor for the innovation and competitiveness of other industries and the development of the public sector.

Sweden and the Netherlands share many agreements and similarities in their tech ecosystems, but it also provides opportunities for mutual learning and offers possibilities experience exchange and new business relationships. At the Swedish Chamber, we observe numerous Swedish tech scale-up companies establishing their European hubs in the Netherlands to further develop their presence in the European market. Companies such as Swedish Chamber members Lime and Younium serve as examples of this trend. Additionally, we see that investment firms, such as Main Capital and Partinc, focus on the tech market and are setting up local hubs in both Sweden and the Netherlands. The Swedish Chamber of Commerce provide a robust infrastructure for a quick and efficient market connection.

Lawrence Masle, Chairperson of the Branding & Marketing Committee

The Branding and Marketing Committee plays a crucial role in supporting the Swedish Chamber of Commerce by developing a comprehensive branding framework. This framework communicates the essence of the Swedish Chamber – who we are, our purpose, and the compelling reasons for companies to become part of this dynamic Swedish-Dutch business network. The Committee is also actively engaged in shaping the Chamber’s marketing and communication strategies, aligning them with the core values of the Chamber and the esteemed Swedish brand.

The Branding and Marketing Committee is undertaking a thoughtful examination of the image of Sweden and its impact on the businesses of our members. Overall, Sweden enjoys a positive image in the Netherlands and other countries, particularly in the areas of social governance, environmental stewardship, climate protection, quality of life and high levels of equality.

Given Sweden’s status as a small economy reliant on global relationships, fostering a positive attitude towards Sweden is essential for diplomatic, business, and international relations. The Business Climate Survey for the Netherlands in 2023 revealed that an impressive 89% of responding companies believe that the Swedish Brand contributes significantly to their business success.

The Committee closely monitors official channels for Branding Sweden, such as the Swedish Institute, which provides tools, reports, and information to promote the Swedish Brand. Simultaneously, we advocate for showcasing successful business strategies and case studies from members within our focus areas of Sustainability, Innovation & Tech, and Diversity & Inclusion. This not only inspires but also encourages knowledge exchange and delivers opportunities to learn from each other in the network.

Looking ahead to 2024, the committee is excited about continuing its service to the Chamber and its members, providing insightful information to maintain a positive image of Brand Sweden for the benefit of strengthened trade relations. We extend an invitation to marketing, communication, PR professionals, and other interested members to join our Committee. In 2024, we plan to convene this network in a flagship Brand Sweden event. We welcome your participation and contribution to shaping the initiatives of the Branding Committee.

Joachim Rittfeldt Hofvenschiöld, Chairperson of the Young Professionals Committee

The Young Professionals offers numerous advantages. Firstly, it provides a community for sharing experiences, challenges, and successes with peers. Secondly, it often comes with opportunities for continued education, professional development, and mentorship exchange. Joining the Young Professionals also shows a commitment to one’s profession, personal growth, and an interest in staying updated with the latest industry trends. It’s a great way to begin building a strong professional network that can prove invaluable throughout one’s career.

One thing that we have noticed in 2023 is that many Patron members have made use of their three free Young Professionals memberships. It has been exciting to welcome these new members into our community, and we hope to see more Patron members taking this opportunity in 2024.

For 2024, the Young Professionals Committee will continue to organise events, workshops, and mentorship programs that can aid the professional and personal growth of its members.

Want to learn more about the Swedish Chamber Committees’ members and work? Click here!