24 (119) 2016
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Chairman & CEO Note

Chairman's and CEO's note

with Antoni F. Reczek and Paweł Siwecki
Header chairman


The Annual General Meeting has just taken place at the British Embassy in Warsaw, traditionally the time to report on BPCC’s work. There was a good turnout, indicative of the interest in the Chamber and its affairs among our membership – or maybe an expression of members’ eagerness to meet the new British Ambassador to Warsaw, Jonathan Knott, who addressed the meeting.

For those of you who were unable to attend the AGM, here’s a recap of the major events that have happened since last year’s meeting, held on 29 April 2015.

In the past 12 months, the BPCC has welcomed and waved goodbye to some of its staff members. Magdalena Kałach and Łukasz Lemke, both business consultants, have joined our Trade Team to support our export services to British SMEs, that we deliver in Poland on behalf of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). Agnieszka Garbacz, head of Policy Groups, started last July, replacing Marta Mikliszańska who left in May to progress her career in government relations. Another notable leaver was Patrick Ney who joined us with the start of UKTI project to head our Trade Team. Last month, Patrick decided to seek new challenges in PR and communications, and Russell Towlson took over his role as trade director to lead our Trade Team. BPCC staff and board warmly welcomed new colleagues, and bid farewell to leavers who left to take up new opportunities outside of the chamber. The current number of full-time equivalent employees is now 20, supported by a committed group of our interns.

The chamber’s honorary presidents, Witold Sobków, the Polish Ambassador to the Court of St James’s, and the former British Ambassador to Warsaw Robin Barnett, have attended many BPCC events. We'd like to thank both for the tremendous support that the two embassies have given our organisation, in particular for acting as marvellous hosts to the events held in the respective embassies. Teamwork between the BPCC and the embassies has never been better.

There is an interview with the new British Ambassador in this issue of Contact Magazine Online. Jonathan was appointed Her Majesty´s Ambassador to Poland in April 2016 after serving as Ambassador to Hungary between February 2012 and April 2015. He joined the FCO in 1988 and has held a variety of diplomatic posts at home and abroad, several with a particular focus on commercial and corporate finance issues.

Following the last AGM, both Nicholas Richardson and Michael Clay retained their position as vice-chairmen. Additionally Roger Hodgkiss and David Thomas were both re-elected this year.

Needing new headquarters, in April 2015 the chamber has settled in at its prestigious and convenient city-centre location on ul. Zielna 37. The 250m² of Class A office space is already known for its 'great views and coffee' with many VIPs, BPCC members, clients and friends visiting it to-date. Our new home will serve us at least until April 2018, when the current lease expires.  

With the recognised achievements in the form of British Chambers of Commerce accreditation and the Quality Standard from COBCOE, the BPCC has continued its quality work within membership, trade and investment support between our two great nations. In terms of various events, policy group meetings and trainings activities, we have delivered the following:   

47 events in Warsaw (28 Policy Groups, 9 BPCC Academies, 10 networking events)
24  events in Kraków
34 events in Wrocław
19  events in Poznań
8 events in UK

In total 132 events.

Membership numbers continued to be stable throughout the year, currently standing at 366. Patrons' commitment continues unchanged with HSBC, Mott MacDonald, PwC, Tesco and UKTI supporting the cause.

The UKTI Trade project is now in its third year, and well on target to meet its goals. Year on year, we have exceeded all the targets set for the Trade Team, and roots of sustainable business model are firmly in place. Great British export successes have been achieved across many sectors – from paintbrushes to motorcycles, from lamb to cheese, with much more to come.

Since promotion of inward investment to the UK is being handled by AT Kearney on behalf of UKTI, the BPCC has focused on attracting UK investors to Poland with sectoral engagement in real estate, advanced manufacturing, R&D and shortly life sciences and maritime by the end of this year. We have also supported the growth of Polish entrepreneurs' networking across the UK, through our partnership there with the Polish embassy and Pblink.co.uk.

One can never keep up with the digital age by standing still. Our BPCC website was re-launched on 1 September, and a mobile phone app due this September. Look out for the new corporate branding in our newsletters, presentations and signatures.

Lech Wałęsa made history again in October  2015 by opening the last Annual Ball; we would like to invite all our members, friends and guests to an Annual Gala Dinner, which will take place this year on Thursday 27 October in Warsaw.  The change of format means our flagship event, our social highlight of the year, will take place on a weekday rather than on a Saturday, as it has done until now.

There will be much anticipation of the BPCC's forthcoming Silver Jubilee Year. We will be celebrating our 25th Anniversary throughout 2017, culminating in a series of jubilee events.

All in all, the past 12 months were a time of great opportunity for the Chamber, and we’re proud to say that we’ve made the most of those opportunities. We would like to thank the entire BPCC Team  as well as the UKTI Team at the British Embassy, and the Trade & Investment Promotion Department at the Polish Embassy for their ever-helpful support.

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