Presidents report for 2014

Dear IBN Switzerland Members,
As 2014 comes to a close, we can again look back with pride on our achievements – one major Swiss wide event – the trade mission and 4 chapter events. We also had many changes to the team – passing on the baton and bringing new ideas to ensure we stay true to our mission to further expand and strengthen the Irish Community in Switzerland and to leverage the network to support Irish companies operating in or entering Switzerland. To date we have about 500 members in total – doing well but still have some potential members to reach!
Kicking off appropriately on March 15 in Basel was the joint IBN Basel chapter and the Basel Irish club event for St Patrick ’s Day, as last year this was a great success. As this was a key rugby date… we had the match livestreamed, then really had cause to celebrate when Ireland beat France, and gave Brian O’Driscoll the perfect send-off with a nerve-jangling victory to secure the Six Nations title.
In May, we joined our counterparts SIBA (Swiss Irish Business Association) annual lunch in Dublin, again strengthening our ties – leveraging both networks just makes good business sense and we look forward to an even closer collaboration in the future.
Mid June saw the big Swiss wide event – namely the Irish Government Minister of State for Research & Innovation Sean Sherlock TD, led Trade Mission to Switzerland (Geneva, Zurich & Basel). Under the leadership of Enterprise Ireland’s Dusseldorf Office and in collaboration with the IBN, events were held in all three chapters and many contacts made that have delivered concrete business contracts. It was one of the largest trade missions ever, comprising representatives of 65 Irish companies spanning the sectors Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices, Engineering, Construction, ICT and Financial Services companies. Swiss Politicians and Senior Swiss Business Executives were amongst the guests invited to attend the events.
From the EI perspective, Switzerland is Ireland’s 5th largest export market, ahead of larger countries such as: France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. Total bilateral trade last year was almost 6 billion Euros. Economic exports from Irish indigenous companies to Switzerland have grown a very impressive 47% over the last 3 years – averaging over 15% growth per annum (total last year of 275 million Euros).
October saw the second Zurich event, hosted by our Ambassador, Mr. Martin Burke at the Honorary Consulate of Ireland to introduce the new Honorary Consul, Mr. Stefan Studer, to the IBN network. A series of presentations were shared, and focused on the concept of Entrepreneurial spirit, highlighting interesting new technologies from three key speakers, Donnacha Daly (ETH), Ben Sugarman (Qstream) and Patrick Ramseyer (Theram GmbH).
November was the first Suisse Romande event hosted by Colman Cuff, Managing Director of Starbucks Coffee Trading Company. Colman shared with an overview of the work of this well-known organization. We heard about the coffee and tea business, the Starbucks CAFÉ practices, how Starbucks work with their supply chain, with farmers and their agricultural practices. The event was followed by an informal dinner for those members who could stay.
In December the now traditional Basel event took place and we were honored to have Marina Donohoe, Regional Director -Northern Europe & UK, Enterprise Ireland open the evening. She gave an update on the Trade mission and an insight into what EI is doing to support new businesses abroad. This was also the occasion for our Ambassador, Martin Burke, to introduce the new deputy head of mission and team member – Joanne King who is replacing Justin Dolan who has returned to Dublin. We had a return visit from Louella Morton (VP of International Sales & GM) of is a learning tool with a definite difference. She reinforced how the support from EI and the IBN really does help to open doors and starts now to bring some very tangible business results. Kieran Conlon (VP Sales & Services, International) of Globoforce demonstrated their unique strategic tool supporting global social recognition programs. As always each chapter event features a welcome and updates from the IBN, EI and the embassy,
As Irish professionals living in Switzerland and members of the Irish Business Network Switzerland, we can continue to provide assistance to Irish companies that are looking at the Swiss market. Throughout 2014, the network has facilitated many introductions to key decision makers here in Switzerland, which has become a key market for so many Irish companies, amounting to tens of millions of euros in exports from Ireland this year. This is making a vital contribution to the nation’s recovery.
Ultimately, though, this network is about the members – over the last 12 months, the Network has continued to grow and has now reached over 500 members. We look forward to welcoming new members so pass on the website or our LinkedIn Group or our new Facebook Page.
However, none of this would have been possible without the IBN core team – all volunteers! This year we had a change in Zurich when Monica Lambe returned with her family to Ireland and was replace by Christiane Lippert. In the Suisse Romande chapter, Elaine Carroll made a similar decision to return to Ireland and has been replace by Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin. And last but not least our Embassy member Justin Dolan has returned to Dublin and been replaced by Joanne King. Manus Rooney from EI Dusseldorf office has also returned to Ireland and we now continue our great collaboration with Eddie Goodwin and his team Jane Greene and Margaret Roettiger. Therefore, a very big thank you to our departing members and a very warm welcome to our new members. If you are interested in supporting them in the chapter work, please just reach out.
Looking forward to 2015 – we plan a series of interesting events at each chapter – so let us know which topics are of interest to you. These themed events give you the opportunity to meet likeminded professionals based in Switzerland, hear from interesting speakers and build your own professional network. We are also interested in hearing from companies in Switzerland interesting in hosting an event in Basel, Zurich or Suisse Romande – please contact the local chapter head for further information.
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Irish Business Network Switzerland, to wish you and your families a good start to 2015. I would also like to thank you for your support for the Network in 2014 and we look forward to your ongoing support in 2015

Valerie Guertler-Doyle
President of the Swiss Irish Business Network