IBN Switzerland Presidents’ Report 2018/2019 AGM
Good evening everyone and welcome.
The IBN is a network of professionals living and/or working in Switzerland who are Irish or have an affiliation with Ireland. Membership is free, our approximately 800 members are located throughout Switzerland and represent a diverse range of backgrounds, skills and experience. The IBN is a registered non-profit Association (Verein), managed by its members on a voluntary basis. We are actively supported by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish Ambassador to Switzerland, His Excellency Mr Breifne O’Reilly.
We would like to first take a moment to appreciate our friend and founder Valerie Guertler Doyle.
It was with great sadness that the committee learned of Valeries’ passing last November.
Valerie was an incredible contributor to Ireland and Irish people. She founded the Irish Business Network in 2008, to support innovative Irish companies gain visibility and business in Switzerland, as well as support Irish professionals living in Switzerland across all sectors of industry. Valerie touched everyone she met with her infectious enthusiasm, boundless positive energy, sparkling wit and huge heart. She was a constant bright and supportive presence and is greatly missed by her huge circle of friends in the Network.
We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the IBN with Valerie last October, in a lovely event in Zurich, in conjunction with the Irish Embassy in Bern and Enterprise Ireland. Valerie recounted her memories of the IBN over the years and really enjoyed the evening. Sadly, Valerie passed away just a month later.
We won’t meet her like again. May she rest in peace. (Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dhílis).
The new volunteer committee was voted in last June, a diverse combination of new faces as well as those who have been part of the IBN since the beginning. We are all very committed to building on the great legacy to continue the contribution of the IBN in Switzerland. We were keen to get an updated view of our member’s needs and so conducted a member survey in October last year. We thank all of you who took the time to input into this. The new committee had our first face to face meeting last November where we reviewed the results of the survey and determined the strategy ahead.
One of the key insights of the survey was that IBN members love to meet like-minded people who share the same experience of living abroad, so they join the IBN both for professional networking as well as to foster a sense of community and Irish identity.
Our refined objectives are therefore to:
- celebrate, activate and support the Irish professional diaspora in Switzerland, (strengthen and expand the network)
- help keep a vibrant sense of community and of Irish identity while living abroad
- leverage the talent, expertise and connections of members to support Irish businesses operating in or entering into Switzerland.
We do this by organising networking events throughout Switzerland as well as various online platforms to encourage connection – IBN website (www.irishbusinessnetwork.ch), LinkedIn group (Irish Business Network Switzerland). We have started a Newsletter that goes out approximately bimonthly to all our members, highlighting details of IBN events past and planned, as well as other events coming up in Switzerland.
In 2019, with the generous support of funding from the Irish Department of Foreign Affair’s Emigrant Support Programme, we organized two great events, with a “Spotlight on Education in Switzerland”, one in Lausanne in May and another in Zurich in June.
The events were relevant for a wide variety of our members and attracted both long-term residents and those more recently arrived. Topics covered all aspects of education from pre-school up to life -long learning options. We were delighted to meet several new people as well as familiar faces. Both events were very well received and received excellent feedback from both participants and the speakers themselves.
We have applied for further ESP funding for 2019/2020, on which we are awaiting feedback. Based on the survey outcomes, our proposal included plans for a mix of events, on topics such as continuing the Successful Integration in Switzerland while maintaining Irish Roots theme with a focus on Finances, as well as Enhanced Networking events – using innovative formats on a variety of topics such as growing your business in Switzerland, mentoring and coaching, as well as topical political, business and technology issues.
In addition, other cultural and business events are already in the pipeline. Look out for our next newsletter going out next week with invitations to IBN and BIC events planned for the autumn. We are keen to continue growing and strengthening our network and the benefits we offer our members. So please actively participate in events and the on-line groups and pass on the information to other like-minded professionals. We particularly encourage suggestions and volunteers for speakers, hosts, sponsors, venues and high interest topics for the coming year. And finally, we’ld like to thank the committee and all those whose commitment, effort and personal networks have been fundamental to the success of the IBN to date.
Brigid O’Donovan & Geraldine O’Grady, Co-Presidents IBN Switzerland, July 2019