Testimonials – SWISSCAM 75 Years

02/Jul/2020 - SWISSCAM -



Frederico Turolla Testimonial

I heard about SWISSCAM in 2007, through a friend, at the time when Ursula Bardorf was its Executive Director. From then on, I started to attend the Chamber constantly, through the Economic and Financial Committee. As an assiduous participant of the Committee, I ended up becoming its Coordinator. I cannot remember exactly the year that I started to coordinate the Committee and I believe that this position popped up due to my attendance and involvement with the group – since the beginning, I recommended speakers and participants, attracting good personalities to the Committee and to the Chamber itself.

Interesting memories: I believe that, during my coordination of the Economic and Financial Committee, the opening of the meetings ended up becoming a catchphrase: “We start our meeting of the Swiss Chamber in Brazil punctually 15 minutes late”. The Chamber is in a region of heavy traffic, at the other side of the city, and therefore there were many cases of delay between the participants of the meetings. Actually, the Swiss’s reputation of punctuality contrasts with the start, almost always late, of our meetings.

SWISSCAM maintains general and prominent lines, which seem to me to have been strongly influenced by the Swiss origin: small, serious, participatory, diverse, perfectionist with the smallest details, attentive to the technological, economic and cultural trends both in Switzerland and in Brazil. In my perception, the successive managements uphold the stability of Swiss institutions: the advances are gradual and planned. Although the Chamber managements that I have seen over the past 13 years, both from the council and the executive team, have been marked by the personalities that have joined them, the line of stability is clear throughout all this time.

Memorable impression: Economic Breakfast was an inspired creation that mobilized high-level groups with first line speakers for highly relevant discussions for executives. We have had very special moments, of highly qualified discussions, in these events.

Virtually all events produced by the Chamber are well-prepared and well-planned, offering good opportunities for networking and business. I could not point out a single event because, in general, the selection of speakers and the public is very well-done, turning the decision to participate in any meeting of the Chamber into an almost certain return on investment.

Significance of SWISSCAM: Firstly, SWISSCAM is an important part of the multi-ethnic environment of the business community in São Paulo, our amazing metropolis that is conquering its place in the world and that has become the regional headquarters of the main Swiss companies. Secondly, SWISSCAM provides an environment of light and intimate networking, bringing a pleasant alternative to the environment of the large chambers. Thirdly, SWISSCAM has shown, over the years, a “Swissly perfectionist” commitment with the strict selection of environments, speakers, participants and even the finer details in each one of its initiatives, which ensures a productive experience to their members.

It is in this sense that Pezco Economics benefits from its association with SWISSCAM, enjoying the opportunities of this privileged space in the City of São Paulo. Although we have seen exceptional managements in recent years, we are thrilled with the direction of Philip and with the executive team of Stefania, Mariana, Denise and Lívia.

Emanuel Baltis Testimonial

In 2011, I moved from Zurich to São Paulo and, in 2012, I was elected president of SWISSCAM. In São Paulo, I had a leadership position at Zurich Insurances in Latin America and I strongly benefited from all the experiences and acquaintances I had during my time at SWISSCAM.

In my first few years as president, Brazil was being crowned the investors’ favorite market worldwide. The Soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games also gave the country a lot of media coverage.

During that time, Swiss corporate representatives, scientists, universities, politicians, and members of the federal parliament would often visit Brazil and Swisscam had the opportunity to position itself as a platform for Swiss companies in Brazil. Together with the Embassy and the Consulate General, great achievements became possible for our Swisscam corporate members, among them, for instance, in the elimination of a Brazilian legal provision that blacklisted Switzerland as a tax haven. Thanks to long-term cooperation and negotiations between Swisscam and corporate representatives, the Embassy, the Consulate General, and the Swiss Federal Government, the referred provision was defused in 2014. The virtual elimination of this provision meant, for many Swiss companies advantages regarding tax issues, transfer pricing, among others, as well as retrocession of reinsurance contracts. For some companies, the referred elimination was even the lifeline for its continuity in Brazil.

Interesting memories: I remember a lot of stories. I greatly appreciated my time as president. Swisscam periodically organized innovation trips in Switzerland. Exactly one year before the Soccer World Cup, on a Swisscam Innovation Trip, I accompanied Brazilian senators and members of the federal parliament, together with corporate representatives and members of the Brazilian Embassy, to a meeting with the Vice-president of FIFA in Zurich.

It was known that the construction of the stadiums in Brazil was strongly delayed. The high- ranking FIFA official was very worried and had nothing good to say about Brazil. Amid that rather tense meeting, a parliament member of the State of Bahia stood up and asked me to translate for the Vice-president of FIFA what he intended to communicate, which was “everything will work out, don’t worry, Sir”.

With pleasure, I translated this Brazilian “omnipresent attitude towards life” into English and all the Brazilians present nodded their heads and began to laugh. Unfortunately, these words were not so well accepted by the FIFA representatives and we finished the meeting earlier than scheduled – we were able to take nice pictures with all the trophies of past Soccer World Cups in the entrance foyer of FIFA headquarters, though.

I also have nice memories about the inauguration ceremony of the most powerful railroad engine in Latin America, held on the outskirts of São Paulo in the direction that leads to Santos. The engine was manufactured by Stadler Rail and Mr. Peter Spuhler (CEO of Stadler Rail) personally delivered his speech in English. Besides the technical performance of the aforementioned engines, I was impressed by Peter Spuhler’s social engagement. During his short business trip to Brazil, he dedicated an entire day to visiting social initiatives, to which he had already been offering financial support for some time.

The visit to the Maracanã soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro, along with former Swiss senator Schneider Ammann, and the subsequent inauguration of Swiss-Nex Bueros with racclete and typical Swiss folk music was also something I will not forget so soon.

Former senator Mrs. Doris Leuthard’s “sportive” agenda in Brazil and the SWISSCAM evening in São Paulo with historical anecdotes about Brazil, followed by Capoeira and Samba shows, was something that many members won’t forget any time soon. Senator Mrs. Leuthard told me during the samba presentation that she hoped nobody would ask her to dance. However, things worked out differently… She had to hide behind me when the elegant samba dancer asked her to come to the dance floor. Fortunately, the ambassador helpfully stepped in and got onto the stage with the samba dancer and danced in the samba rhythms in front of the senator, who sat with me in the first row and hoped that nobody would post a video of that moment on YouTube.

The SWISSCAM team is always focused on the members’ needs. Just as the members’ needs change, the options offered by SWISSCAM will also change.

Just like all the other companies in Brazil, Swisscam has gone through years of crisis, but has managed to overcome them with a strengthened and newly positioned solid basis and a motivated team to offer added values to its members, which they could get elsewhere for a much higher price. If it were even possible to get them.

SWISSCAM has a growing Business Community, which actively participates in events, seminars, exhibitions, and committees. Thus, the SWISSCAM team has accumulated, in all these years, a solid knowledge of its members and their evolution and transition into the Digital Age. SWISSCAM is going through changes and will continue to do so to keep pace with innovation.

As an insurance manager, I need to have a broad general knowledge. Thanks to my close contact to many corporate members and their employees, I have managed to deepen my detailed knowledge in a large variety of industrial segments over the years. I have also managed to bring certain topics in the overall context of SWISSCAM in newly constituted committees or taskforce closer to the member community, as well as to find applications in my position with Zurich Insurances and SwissRe. The cooperation and meetings with politicians from the entire political spectrum, heads of state, ministers, consuls, and ambassadors perfectly rounded off my experience with a broader range of knowledge.

The public affairs experience as president of SWISSCAM surely was an important component of my professional career and I owe that to SWISSCAM.

The importance of SWISSCAM is to offer to corporate members an efficient and modern platform for the interchange of expertise among its members and also with external experts, companies, politicians, and scientists. Swisscam is also expected to be a strong representative and partner for joint interests of the Swiss industry in their relationships with ministries both in Switzerland and Brazil. Also, not to forget the importance of personal networking experienced and which is actively being supported by Swisscam with their different events. Finally, “All Business” is also “People Business” and we at SWISSCAM understand that very well.

Ursula Bardorf Testimonial

It was just by chance that I came to SWISSCAM. Dr. Ernesto Moeri, who had just been elected president of SWISSCAM, was looking for someone to conduct projects to support Swiss companies that were interested in doing business in Brazil, participate in fairs and meet potential Brazilian partners.

That event turned into the best time in my professional life. From a coordinator of small projects at OSEC (today Switzerland Global Enterprise), I rose up to the position of executive director at SWISSCAM. The best part was working with the staff, made up of extremely talented, multicultural and highly motivated young people taking on their first or second job post.

It was really great to develop these talents, and I was always proud of being able to provide a platform for these young people for their first experiences in business. Regardless of who stayed more or less time, the team was very united, a lot of fun, and highly dedicated. And the board has always given me its full support in a motivating, generous and outstanding way. We conduct more normal projects, such as sponsoring fairs. But we also don’t hesitate to dive into projects that have sprung out of spontaneous ideas, be it a seminar that gathers representatives from the Ministry of Labor and HR executive presidents from the largest Swiss companies or the grand SWISSCAM ball at the Hyatt.

I am eternally grateful for the tremendous support we received from our members who have gone through great lengths to get on board with our projects, not only financially, but also with their experience, their know-how and their motivation to make SWISSCAM a major meeting point. Incidentally, this was the focal point of our work. Bringing people together, becoming the matchmaker between companies and people.

For outsiders who still don’t know what a chamber of commerce does, I always tell them: it’s like a dating agency, but not between people, between companies and institutions.

I enjoyed this very rewarding and inspiring time of my life and, to this day, I’m really grateful for having such a formidable, exciting and superb experience.

Obviously, I consider the work that SWISSCAM does to be very important. On the one hand, for companies seeking to use the chamber as a trusting partner in a market to be discovered and, on the other hand, being a great place for young people who want to give their best efforts to start off their careers. In fact, the first young woman to apply for a desk position at SWISSCAM was the dear Ms. Denise Ortega who, to this day, is sort of the soul and historical archive of SWISSCAM and, better yet, never fails to send me invitations to every SWISSCAM event – not because I’ll be able to attend, since I live in Switzerland, but so I can feel connected to SWISSCAM even today, hoping that the current executive director, Ms. Stefania Moeri, who happened to be my student at the Swiss School, is afforded the same satisfaction and joy of leading an innovative, motivated and delightful team.

Congratulations to everyone for their enthusiasm, their strength of accomplishment and friendship that lasts to this day. Thank you very much!

Christian Hanssen Testimonial

I have been participating as an associate and/or member of the SWISSCAM Board representing Swiss multinationals or as a business owner since 1980.

Throughout these last 40 years, there have been numerous events, visits and changes in staff, which have not always run so smoothly.

I took part in several meetings with delegations arriving from Switzerland, with members of the federal government and industry representatives.

I’d like to bring up a rather humorous incident. The matter involved import taxes on both sides and taking a closer look at a potential reduction to increase bilateral business. At one point, the Brazilian Minister took to the floor and asked if he could place a little-known piece of information into the discussion: “Mr./Ms. Federal Councilor needs to know that the Swiss government gives a subsidy equal to the amount of our minimum wage for each Swiss cow.” This argument led to a moment of silence, but the meeting ended pleasantly.

Over these past 40 years, I have seen a change in the “climate” of the Chamber from an “old boys club”, no offense, to a highly professional organization generating a large percentage of revenue through the activities rendered.

I think that the opening of the Brazilian economy, which has been on the agenda for many years, is going in the right direction and, as a result, will lead to new opportunities for the Chamber.

Edson Franco Testimonial

SWISSCAM has been an enormously significant forum for representing, promoting business and providing support for Swiss companies in Brazil. Those of us from Zurich in Brazil are proud to be part of this community that has contributed so much to the country’s economic development. Congratulations on 75 years of activity! May new challenges arise!

Stephan Buser Testimonial

I was the CEO of SWISSCAM from 2008 to 2016. During this time, I had the chance to lead various young professionals that were part of the team, many of them highly motivated, eager to learn about the Swiss and Brazilian companies, being very helpful supporting many of our members in their different endeavours. I believe that despite being a small team and with limited resources we managed to support many companies on their path in Brazil and in Switzerland.

I would like to highlight the support Swiss companies receive while participating at Brazilian trade fairs, when SWISSCAM manages everything at the Swiss Pavilion and they can just arrive and start presenting their products and services. Companies have always been amazed by the quality of the booth, the catering, the location within the trade fairs and the support all around they received.

Another highlight are the events organized throughout the year for the SWISSCAM members, which are very well planned and prepared, from business committee meetings that give in-depth information about a particular subject to high class lunch or dinner meetings in five-star environments with highly esteemed representatives from governments, entities or industrial bodies, allowing for extensive business networking.

I am particularly happy that SWISSCAM played a key role in bringing together Swiss companies when the legal situation in Brazil tended to aggravate the business environment – or when bi-lateral discussions were on the agenda between Swiss and Brazilian diplomates and SWISSCAM brought together their members to update the Swiss representatives about the current situation in Brazil.

It was rewarding to see how the SWISSCAM team organized personalized events for some of their member companies: we supported the organization of an award ceremony for a large industrial company, we planned informal get-togethers for a banking group, allowing their management to interact with C-level executives. We prepared gatherings for Swiss company representatives on research trips in Brazil, allowing them to meet Swiss business people that already successfully established their industries in the country.

The board of directors is bringing together C-level professionals from the most important Swiss companies in Brazil. Managing this chamber of commerce with the support of these ladies and gentlemen was very enlightening for me and I learned a lot from their experience.

At SWISSCAM I had the opportunity to meet people from the most diverse industries, I learned how rich the Swiss industrial landscape is and how vast the potential field of application is in Brazil. I met Brazilian business people that understood the potential of establishing a branch of their business in Switzerland or founding a base for further expansion in Europe. I am happy that SWISSCAM managed to be part of their journey and bringing their business relationship between Switzerland and Brazil a step forward.

SWISSCAM is there for their members, for the Swiss and Brazilian companies that would like to extend their business with the other country, many companies understand how and where SWISSCAM can be at their service and they make use of this entity, others just pay their membership fees but hardly interact with the “SWISSCAM”-community, which I think, is a pity. I believe that particularly the business community which unites the two countries should stand stronger together.

In respect of size of the countries, Switzerland is minuscule towards Brazil and I hope that government driven entities and private organizations like SWISSCAM can make further steps towards each other. Together they will be stronger. I am extremely proud that SWISSCAM managed to establish and maintain a fruitful partnership with University of St. Gallen for many long years. It was a good example how entities that might not have exactly the same mission at first sight can work together on their common grounds and complement each other.

My other hope is that the Brazilian legislation will make further steps towards a more business friendly legal environment. This would help organizations like SWISSCAM to become more business orientated, allowing them to make use of their vast professional experience and go beyond the activities a chamber of commerce is traditionally limited to.

I finally hope that SWISSCAM and their members may celebrate many more jubilees to come. But for now, dear SWISSCAM: Happy 75th Birthday!

Erik Vidal Testimonial

Curaprox has been participating with SWISSCAM since 2006 in various events and I would say that the Swiss chamber is the watershed for our success, because we started out very small, with 6m², and today we have a good representation here in the Brazil with our products.

Mônica Ferreira Vassimon Testimonial

SWISSCAM performs a key role in promoting business and innovation through activities that support exchange and synergy, not just between associated companies, but also involving leading external specialists. In a dynamic and challenging business environment, initiatives like sharing experiences, informed debates and a vision for the future all add a wealth of value to supporting the decision-making process. Over the last few years, the Chamber has gone through a crucial transition, spreading its theme to areas that have gained relevance in the organizational environment. These areas include people management, compliance, sustainability and reputation. Such an approach demonstrates the SWISSCAM team’s commitment to keeping itself continually updated in order to remain in touch with new market demands and provide distinct support to members.

H.Philip Schneider Testimonial

I graduated in Mill Construction and worked on the assembly and start-up area of Bühler’s milling department, still based in Guarulhos at the time. Influenced by expatriate colleagues, it was the first time I came into contact with the work of SWISSCAM. I made a radical career shift in 1994, moving from the technical side to the humanities area (I graduated in Law in the class of 2000). Even as an intern at a major law firm in São Paulo, I followed SWISSCAM’s activities from a distance. Established and working in the tax area, I began attending the Legal Committee, first as a listener and later, in more active roles, as a presenter and consultant on tax issues (for example, participating in discussions regarding the inclusion of Switzerland in the list of tax havens). Through this more active participation, I made great friends at SWISSCAM. One of these friends invited me to take an even more active part in the life of the chamber, so I became President of SWISSCAM in 2018.

SWISSCAM has been continually transforming itself, seeking to increase trade relations between Brazil and Switzerland (such as organizing a Doing Business seminar, arranging fairs with Swiss exhibitors, comex consulting, etc.). With its committees, the Chamber creates an opportunity for exchanges between large, medium and small-scale business people who are looking to export or import products and services to and from Switzerland. SWISSCAM was able to place itself within this dynamic of international trade without losing its roots or its position as a reliable and safe institution for Brazilian and Swiss businessmen who are looking to venture into new markets.

Memorable impression: The first edition of the “Doing Business in Brazil” in Switzerland, 2018. Against all expectations, this event highlighted SWISSCAM’s belief in the potential of the Brazilian economy. The event was so successful that it spawned several similar events from number of other entities.

SWISSCAM plays a vital role in discussions between Brazil/Switzerland trade agents by facilitating a secure and trustworthy environment for the ongoing exchange of experiences and opportunities.

Werner Stettler Testimonial

Since I arrived in Brazil, via a Swiss insurance company back in 1987, I’ve had the privilege of participating as a member of the Chamber and the board. The frequent meetings have always served as a link in the Swiss community, facilitating and enriching our business and social

Interesting memories: I fondly recall a presentation by Jô Soares during an end of year dinner in the early 90s. At that time, it was a highly anticipated social event for members and their wives. Jô Soares kept the audience entertained with details of a great connoisseur of Switzerland. I discovered later that all his expertise comes from a period of study in Lausanne at Lycée Jaccard.

The 1980s and 1990s were characterized by the association of Swiss companies, whose executives and directors were mostly composed of expatriates from that country. In addition to the monthly lunches, where economic and political issues were discussed, the Chamber also served as a platform for the presentation of the members themselves and for frequent visits by the senior management of the respective companies in Brazil.

Business and social events were still filled with a good deal of family atmosphere at that time. Of course, in our highly globalized world, currently dominated by vast and rapid technological changes, the situation is different, and the Chamber’s activities have been adapted. At companies today, a good amount of upper management carry passports from different countries. Without losing our Swissness, this has given us a more international touch, and the administration itself, which was a one-man show for many years, is led today by a young, motivated and well-connected professional team.

Memorable impression: I wouldn’t just bring up one event and/or a specific person. What really matters is that, through SWISSCAM, I had the privilege to meet and come into contact with very interesting people from the business, political and cultural sectors over the last 3 decades.

Numerous lectures focused on economic and political issues, courses and workshops on HR, Tax, Legal and Marketing topics, and many others. All of this contributes greatly to updating and enhancing my knowledge and that of several professionals from the companies I worked for.

Significance of SWISSCAM: Being an active and reliable partner in promoting bilateral trade, conducting activities such as legal and tax advice, helping start-ups, export/import advice, market research, holding fairs and seminars on current topics, along with facilitating contacts between partners and members, and many others.

Start-up and/or small or mid-sized companies are able to take advantage of the knowledge, relationships and, many times, the support of large associated companies (Gold members), including the Chamber itself.

Stefania Moeri Hertach Testimonial

I took over as the executive director of SWISSCAM in January 2017. My expectations were very high and I had in mind the size of the responsibility. As the daughter of Swiss, born and raised in Brazil, I have the great pleasure of working with these two countries with which I have such a close relationship.

Being able to follow the advances in the relationship between Brazil and Switzerland in the most diverse areas brings me enormous satisfaction. During these last years I have had the privilege of contributing and participating in important pioneering projects, such as the Doing Business in Brazil event in Zurich, the online transmission of selected lectures, among others. But what makes me most happy is having a close relationship with the associates and working with a motivated and engaged team.

Gustavo Stüssi Testimonial

My connection with the Swiss community in Brazil is a family legacy. My Swiss grandfather passed away quite young, so I only had contact with the Swiss community through my professional life. During the administration of the late former president Ernesto Moeri, I was invited to join the SWISSCAM board of directors as part of his project to stimulate activities and increase the professional level of the Chamber. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of being able to contribute and have more active participation in SWISSCAM.

Memorable event: It would be really unfair to try and select one event or even a few memorable events. What I do believe should be mentioned is SWISSCAM’s focus on its members. The committees offer lectures or seminars given preferably by the members themselves or by guests, but always by leading professionals who have their daily lives as one of the themes, enabling high-quality events and pragmatic topics. The investment in being a member of the chamber is already justified by the committees. A lot can be learned at rather reasonable costs. But SWISSCAM goes far deeper than just committees for its members. One major challenge is sharing the information on opportunities with its members, so they can further enjoy the benefits of the association. We have been very pleased to see more and more employees from diversified fields of our members at SWISSCAM events.

Other SWISSCAM activities are focused on helping its members create business opportunities through the chance of participating in fairs, in addition to serving as a forum for discussing business topics that are relevant to the members and their employees, boosting institutional performance in the best interest of its members.

SWISSCAM’s first connection, as well as other organizations of its kind, is the blood, commercial, cultural or plain sympathetic link with Switzerland. Driven by these links, this small structure aims to boost the development of commercial and cultural relations between its members and between those members and society overall, creating a beneficial effect for everyone. Speaking about one of the activities related to the association with Switzerland – its watchmaking tradition – I’d conclude that SWISSCAM contributes as a very efficient mechanism that is part of a large gear that is Brazilian society. Without everyone doing their part, the gear runs poorly or doesn’t work at all. One look at the other is essential. Providing assistance in good relations between members and between their relations with non-members and with the authorities of these two countries, I see SWISSCAM making its modest contribution to the economic and cultural development of these two great nations.

Jürg Marbach Testimonial

We have been partners of SWISSCAM for seven decades and we are honored to play a part in the history of this prominent organization in an effort to stimulate business between Brazil and Switzerland.

Its history is identified by the organization of strategic committees and events that contribute to professional development and bolstering of business relationships. We are proud to be able to witness the consolidation of SWISSCAM as a networking platform aggregating relevant content and providing unique opportunities for high-level contact, interaction, information and training.

Congratulations to SWISSCAM for the 75 years working with the utmost competence and ethics, becoming a vital presence in relations between Brazil and Switzerland.