Chairman of the Board
The Board of Directors is a fundamental part of the Chamber and a big reason for its success. As so, we wanted to get to know them better and this time we met with Kristian Odebjer, the Chairman of the Board.
Hi Kristian! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Hi there! I am a Chinese-speaking Swedish lawyer. There were not too many of those when I graduated from law school in the 1990’s, so I ended up with an offer to work for a Swedish law firm that had an office in Hong Kong. Later on I started my own law firm, Odebjer Fohlin, which I run to this day. We have offices in Hong Kong and Stockholm, and serve clients in both locations.
What would you say it is like working with a Swedish brand in
Hong Kong and southern China?
It depends on your audience of course, but in general I believe “Sweden” stands for things like innovation, equality, minimalist design, and environmental consciousness. These are priceless assets in the world of business.
What made you engage in SwedCham?
From my early days in Hong Kong, it was clear that SwedCham played a crucial role in connecting Swedes, as well as non-Swedes interested in Sweden, with each other. Swedish entrepreneurs have been very successful in Hong Kong. When I met some of them through SwedCham, I was inspired. This eventually led to my setting up my own business. At that time, I also decided to stand for the SwedCham board. Serving as a SwedCham director, and later on as chairman, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life.
According to you, what is the greatest benefit of being a member of the Chamber?
The more you invest in the chamber, the greater your returns will be, but any member will tell you that just being hooked into the network is worth the fees on its own. I do however encourage all members to consider taking the next step and volunteer for a committee or stand as a candidate for the board.* I promise that it will be well worth the effort.
What do you wish to achieve as a Board Member in SwedCham?
Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis (all things change, and we change with them): it should be clear to all that we are living in a changing world. “Volatility” is high (to use a term understood well in a finance center like Hong Kong). SwedCham certainly cannot stand still, but needs to look carefully at opportunities and threats on the horizon. As Hong Kong changes, we will have to make sure our offering appeals to new categories of potential members. Closer integration with the “Greater Bay Area” is coming. Businesses in Hong Kong have to embrace that change for what it is: an opportunity to reach a market of 75 million that is connected via world-class infrastructure and cutting edge technology. At the same time, we need to make sure we help safeguard Hong Kong’s own unique heritage: the rule of law and a free economy. Without them, Hong Kong would longer have a role.
"The more you invest in the chamber, the greater your returns will be, but any member will tell you that just being hooked into the network is worth the fees on its own."
Finally, when you aren’t working, do you have a hidden gem in Hong Kong you like to visit?
I love (almost) everything about Hong Kong. Needless to say, the nature and wildlife are incredible for a global metropolis. But I also really appreciate Hong Kong culture and food. As an expat, I am embarrassed to say that it took me quite a few years to realize how rich Hong Kong is in these intangibles. I am also very much inspired by how Hong Kong people keep carrying on, no matter what the world throws at them. I think most previously “hidden gems” have been discovered as we all have explored the territory like never before during two plus years of Covid, but if I had to pick a place I would say the dai pai dong at Tai Mong Tsai village in Sai Kung. Tell Chris, the owner, that I sent you!
(* There will be a few vacancies on the Board of Directors of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. The nominees will be voted on at the Annual General Meeting on May 31, 2022.
Do you know of that special someone who can further the interests of the Swedish business community in Hong Kong and help build the Chamber for the future? Maybe it’s you? Please nominate your candidate (or yourself!) in writing after confirming with the nominee that they are interested in running for a position on the board.
Who and how: To be eligible for election as a director, a person must be nominated by an Ordinary Member. The candidate shall be an employee of the Member company and only one nomination per Member is allowed.
When and how: Please note that the written nominations must be received by the Chamber Office between May 10 and May 27 (not less than three and not more than twenty-one days prior to the AGM) together with the acceptance in writing by the person nominated.
Note: A Director retiring at the General Meeting, and eligible for re-election, may be elected without nomination notice in advance.
Contact: Send your nomination to email@example.com. If you have further questions on how to nominate someone please don’t hesitate to reach out Gabriella Augustsson, General Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org)