The British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce Business Awards
The British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce (BSCC) this year launched its new Business Awards, advancing its mission to promote trade relations between Switzerland and the UK. At its inaugural ceremony on November 30, the BSCC identified and put into the forefront those actors who have played an active role in business relationships between the two countries. As the official media partner of these awards, Swiss Style Magazine partook in this project, which aims to become the number one business award within the British-Swiss business community.
Recent developments in Europe have illustrated the importance of dialogue within a world economy increasingly challenged by protectionist tendencies, and international commerce is itself perhaps the only dialogue uninhibited by the unpredictable tides of political posturing.
Whether or not one attributes such postures to sentries of sovereignty, it is generally agreed that seclusion can prove a terminal diagnosis in contemporary economics. The British-Swiss Business Awards emphasise that through our business relations we can circumvent our mutual isolation. In this vein, winners were considered to have contributed significantly to both the apparatus of the market and the transmission of international discourse that it facilitates. Where better than Geneva, the home of the World Trade Organisation, to pay such a tribute?
The ceremony was attended by Great Britain’s Ambassador to Switzerland, Sarah Gillett, who joined over 150 business leaders and guests in their celebration of business innovation in the British-Swiss arena. The awards were sponsored by Lloyds TSB Private Banking, the first British bank in Switzerland and member of the 92-year-old BSCC since 1954. A committee oversaw nominations and ultimately ranked successful finalists in terms of their outstanding contribution towards bilateral trade and investment between the UK and Switzerland.
The three judges were distinguished. Professor Victoria Curzon-Price is Associate Fellow to the International Security Programme, Professor Emerita of the University of Geneva, and former Professor of Economics and Director of the European Institute of the University of Geneva. Daniel Loeffler earned his degree in Economics before building a prominent career in business consultancy. He is currently Director of the Geneva Economic Development Office. Philippe Meyer is Director of the International Affairs Department, and studied for degrees in Economics and Business Administration, most recently at Berkley. The three deliberated upon the granting of awards across five separate areas of commendation.
The ‘Company of the Year’ award went to prestigious law firm Withers LLP. The firm has been dedicated to social responsibility for much of its 100+ year history, and has shaped the legislative development of the UK accordingly. This award was recognition for what is considered to be the largest commitment to enhancing bilateral trade relations between Switzerland and the UK. Aside from direct community involvement, all nominees were judged upon growth, overall performance, and innovation in strategy.
HSBC Private Bank, noted for the environmental and social impact of its strategic corporate governance, received the ‘Corporate Social Responsibility Award’ by Swiss Style’s Co-Chair, Anne Claire Béguin-Lotti. The extent of staff development and the application of workplace practices were also factors on which the nominees were considered. Addressing the attendees at the ceremony, Ms. Béguin-Lotti said: “Our magazine has been a platform for the expression of diverse points of view from the economic and financial leaders of Switzerland. As such, it has given us a bird’s-eye view of strategies and policies created and implemented by many of our readers in their business environments. Over the past few years, the term Corporate Social Responsibility has been ringing through our ears, but, as keen observers, we have often been saddened and frustrated by what we had grown to feel as ‘lip service’, driven more by marketing and PR concerns rather that active compliance with the spirit of CSR.
Tonight’s event now gives us renewed hope. The BSCC and the esteemed judges of the British Swiss Business Awards have, after considerable effort, identified those companies that have gone far past the any notion of ‘lip service’ to the important concept of CSR”.
Meanwhile, the ‘Unsung Hero’ award proved a competitive title. It was reserved for an individual who has made a substantive and underappreciated contribution to the business community. The award demanded the talent of a champion and the conduct of a modest leader. Journalist Ellen Wallance was rewarded for her selfless, ‘behind the scenes’ work for the British- Swiss community.
Overwhelmed with impressive submissions, the category of ‘Most Promising New Business / Entrepreneur’ was reserved for businesses or organisations that have been in operation for three years or less. Avaloq UK took the title, demonstrating excellence in research, development, innovation and overall solid business practices.
Finally, La Cote International School in gland were recognised for ‘Excellence in Customer Service’. Facilitating the mobility of professional families between Switzerland and the UK, the school was deemed to have offered customer service that is both exemplary and dedicated to exceeding expectations.
Article by Kyle Packer