A day in the life of a chamber intern by Andrew Moore

Andrew, often going by Andy (although he claims not to care which one he is called), began a one year placement at the chamber as our new Communications Officer. This is a look into what a normal day looks like for Andrew.

8:45 Leave home: If I’m feeling like I can splash the cash I may treat myself to a pain au chocolat choosing the establishment I purchase my tasty treat from by who has most recently baked them to ensure that warm, gooey chocolate. If I’m being frugal, it’s time to head straight to the office and get to work. Today, unfortunately, is not a pain au chocolat day.

9:15 Arrive at work: I like to make sure I get my round of good mornings in before I settle at my desk to load up my computer and face the emails for the morning. I feel it always lifts the mood with a cheery greeting. Now it’s time to read through all of the morning news and send anything interesting to our Flipboard which we release every other week highlighting key news in and around Europe.

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10:30 Meeting: I have a meeting with Francesca today about the Members Directory 2017 edition we are putting together. The Member Directory is a key project I’m working on as it’s the main chamber publication every year and holds within all of our members’ company information.

12:30 Lunch: This is a tactful political play I would compare to Obama’s passing of Obamacare. It involves me sowing the seeds of hunger as I move from room to room explaining how “I’m a bit peckish,” and “I could go for lunch.” Eventually this receives enough traction and operation lunch is a go. Now to decide where to eat, we haven’t been to Happy Lunch in some time…

1:30 Social media: As Communications Officer; I monitor and use all of our social media channels to promote the chamber. This week we are promoting the Golden Bridge Awards by highlighting last year’s winners Ignition and the success they have had since winning. The Golden Bridge Award is an awards programme promoting trade links between Belgium and the UK, I promote it by plugging it in all of our communications and then I monitor how well it does.

2:30 Room Arrangement: I’d put myself within the top 3 people in the comms room in terms of kindness. So when a colleague from the events team pops their head around the door asking for help setting up an event I jump to their aid and deliver some of the finest room arrangement seen North of the Mediterranean.

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3:30 Meeting: I’m off to a meeting with Edward, from the Business and Trade team, to discuss the Expat Financial Affairs event, we’re planning the promotion of the event and how to reach our target audience. The event is on the 19th of October and is set to offer essential advice on managing finances in Belgium as an expat.

5:30 Preparation: The day is starting to wind down, I always like to write a ‘to do list’ at this point for the next day whilst things are fresh in my mind. I also clear away the event that was held this afternoon and set up the room again for one tomorrow morning.

6:30 Leave the Office: The day is over, I like to get in some form of exercise; be it a game of tennis, football or I’ll head to the gym before going home for the next day.

 

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This week the focus is on The Golden Bridge Awards, which the British Chamber is co-organising with the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain for a fifth consecutive year. Last year’s winners Ignition are an independent, full service provider of events, training and e-learning working in partnership with many of the world’s biggest brands. We sat down with European Account Director, Pello Morras, who described what they’ve achieved, the progress they’ve made and the learning experience they’ve had since becoming winners.

Pello, it’s been just over half a year since you won the Golden Bridge Award. What has happened since then for Ignition?

Fortunately for us, we have been extraordinarily busy on a great number of projects, helping our customers to present their new products to their intended audiences in innovative, engaging and interesting ways. We have held events in Spain, Sweden, France, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Germany and the UK – we have certainly been clocking up the air miles! And overall, this is our best trading year in history!

We always try and keep up to date with technology and there are some interesting developments in the areas of augmented and virtual reality that we have developed skillsets in. Whilst there is no substitute for hands on experience, the potential for us comes from allowing people to see things in new and fascinating ways.

After the Brexit result was announced, we moved quickly to reassure customers that we are a European company, with our long established Belgium-based office representing a tangible example of our commitment to Europe beyond Brexit. Existing customers have appreciated the assurance and discussions with new clients have been generally positive. But there is still a lot of uncertainty out there.

ignition-win-blogThe winning Ignition team at the Golden Bridge Awards

 

What did the Golden Bridge process do for you in terms of reflecting on your business success?

It was really interesting going through the application and presentation process. Going back, we’ve never really thought of ourselves as especially interesting or innovative, rather we made decisions that were right for our business as we needed to. There was never a time that we sat back and thought ‘wow, this is all part of a master plan’.

The Golden Bridge process gave us the opportunity to reflect on what we did and why and even though there were a number of steps that we took, we realised that they all made sense as part of a strategic plan, even if we didn’t overtly state that at the beginning!

By networking throughout the awards, we were also able to optimise our structure for the Belgian market. It also allowed us to further our image and reputation across Belgium and reassures our contacts, both current and future, that we are a serious player.

Once we had completed the application and done the presentation, we realised that we really did have a good story to tell, and that has helped motivate the team to recognise that we are something special. We had a mix of employees and customers at the Awards dinner in November – thank goodness we won something!

What role does Belgium play in Ignition’s continued growth?

The reality was that establishing ourselves in Belgium was driven by the office locations of our customers. It’s fair to say that in our early years, some aspects of operating in Belgium were not so easy for our business: employment law there was quite different to the UK and accounting practices also unfamiliar. It’s good to see that some of these hurdles are slowly being overcome so Belgium should be a little more attractive and welcoming to company’s like ours going forward. I’ve recently become aware of some incentives and social security exemptions for new start-ups that will no doubt prove attractive.

We will continue to maintain a number of locally-based employees in Belgium. And it was especially pleasing for us to learn that our establishment model in Belgium is good for any post-Brexit structures that we might need. It always was an advantage vs our competitors but now it may become critical.

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Rob Forsyth, Ignition’s Managing Director, receiving the Golden Bridge award

What was your secret to winning the Golden Bridge award, and what tips would you give any prospective candidate?

I’m not sure there’s any particular secret to our win; rather, we took the opportunity to allow ourselves to sit back and think about who we are and what we stand for as a company. By getting back to the fundamentals, the way forward becomes so much clearer.

In terms of operating in Belgium, it’s beneficial for start-ups to utilise the knowledge and contacts of other British agencies such as the chamber, it really helps to not go into the market blind and to readily be able to access advice on infrastructure and the differences between business here and the UK.

I would also encourage any prospective applicant to be honest and passionate about who they are and what they do, but also identify the challenges and the opportunities. Maybe our USP was that we told a “story”. Everybody loves a story and they are much more memorable for the jury. Of course we have an advantage in that this is what we do for our customers!

If you think you have a great story to tell and would like to celebrate it with us, you might want to think about applying for this year’s Golden Bridge Awards. You will need to act soon, though, as applications close on Friday 16 September. Click here for more information.

The Golden Bridge Awards recognise the trade and export success of UK companies doing business in Belgium, and Belgian & Luxembourg companies doing business in the UK. Companies of any size and in any industry can apply. Applications close in early September, and the winners will be announced at a high-level black-tie gala dinner in London on 24 November. Winning companies receive further recognition and profiling throughout the following year through the organising chambers. For more information on the awards and how to enter as a candidate, please contact Alexandra Trandafir at Alexandra@britishchamber.be.

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The British Chamber of Commerce works with a broad range of Accredited Service Providers to bring you the best professional advice for international businesses who are in or entering the Belgian market. This series aims to give you a bit of an insight into these companies; showcasing how they can help you develop your business. British Chamber members can book a free first consultation with any of our expert advisors.

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What is the most important questions companies looking to do business in Belgium should be asking?

The questions that we receive the most from clients is: What are the potential hurdles and Belgian regulations for foreigners starting a business in Belgium? The maze of red tape in Belgium can be a nightmare and things have not improved very much in the past couple of years.  One thing is for sure: if you decide to start a business, you must get a good accountant and lawyer and let them do the initial work.

What is one emerging trend in the business/regulatory environment which you would advise companies’ in/entering Belgium to be particularly proactive about?

Gosselin Mobility assists companies with the visa and immigration procedure of their expats.  A lot of questions raise on how the Schengen Legislation in the current European landscape impacts their immigration approach.  And the Brexit off course, although consequences for all of the EU member states are very hard to predict.

Why is it important for new entrants in Belgium to speak with you?

Our aim is for new entrants/expats and the company sponsoring their relocation to contact us way before they arrive in Belgium.  We need to know where they want to live (in function of the home search) and where they want their kids to go to school (in function school search).  We need to know if they need intercultural training and spousal/partner support or if they need language training.  Quite often we also organize their household goods move, which means that we literally move their lives to Belgium or vice versa.

See our website http://gosselinmobility.eu/ for more details and to get in contact

If you’d like to organise a meeting with any of our Accredited Service Providers, or are interested in becoming one, get in touch with James Pearson – our Business & Trade Executive at james.pearson@britishchamber.be

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School is back in session…

After a peaceful summer, the chamber welcomes a series of new faces to its team.  Alexandra Trandafir joined us in August 2016 as Business & Trade Executive, responsible for managing the Business & Trade Development programme. Cristina Pop joined us in June 2016 as Office Manager. Charline Bloch joined us in April 2016 as EU Events Executive, responsible for the EU Committee and developing the programme with our members. We’re delighted they have joined our team and excited for the growth of the chamber.

As always our work is supported by some fantastic interns and this year is no different. Our interns are all supported through the Erasmus scheme for one year placements and they all began in August 2016. Alex Bolton studying International Business & Management at Aston University is our Business & Trade Officer, Ed McGuire studying Politics & International Relations at Bath University is our Business Events Officer. Alex and Ed will both be working with Alexandra on the Business and Trade Development programme. Aniko Lakezi and Maria Giovanna Caruso are both studying Politics and International Relations at Bath University, they will be both EU Event Officers working with Charline on the EU Committee programme planning. Andrew Moore studying Politics & International Relations at Aston University is the new Communications Officer working with Uzma and Francesca. Two new roles were added to the team with Jack Whittaker as Membership Development Officer, he is studying International Business & Management at Aston University and Juozas Beniusis as Web/CRM Designing & Developing Officer who is also from Aston University studying Computer Sciences. Jack and Juozas will be working with Konstantina.

The team look forward to seeing you at the chamber over the next few months.

As we head towards a ‘Brussels summer’ and our team are putting together the autumn events agenda, we’re looking forward to seeing all of you after the break. I just want to take a brief moment to say thank you to the team who have helped us put together the programme so far and will be leaving over the summer to either newer pastures or back to their studies. Robbert Dekker, Operations & Strategy Executive left at the end of June to be an independent CRM Consultant, James Pearson, Business & Trade Executive leaves us in mid-August as he moves to Montreal and we want to say thank you to them for all the hard work they have put into the chamber over the last few years and wish them lots of luck with their new challenges ahead!

Our work is supported by some truly wonderful interns who will all be finishing their terms with us over the summer.  Thanks to Dersim Rosa Karadag, Tom Pickup and Danny Owen who have continued developing the programme for the EU Committee and developing the communications/putting together our Members Directory/Annual Report. We wish them luck in their final year at university. Thanks to Clément Staner and Claudia Gherman on the Business Development side supporting James and developing the programme further over the last few months and also thanks to Trang Nguyen for making our financial systems make sense to rest of the team and keeping us in check!

We’ll have plenty of new faces joining us over the summer and we look forward to you all meeting them at the chamber offices in September.

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Have a great Summer!

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The British Chamber of Commerce works with a broad range of Accredited Service Providers to bring you the best professional advice for international businesses who are in or entering the Belgian market. This series aims to give you a bit of an insight into these companies; showcasing how they can help you develop your business. British Chamber members can book a free first consultation with any of our expert advisors.

 

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What are the top 3 questions companies looking to do business in Belgium should be asking?

Why is Belgium the UK’s sixth largest export market in the world? UK/Belgian two-way trade is worth in the region of £22 billion, of which £2 billion is in services.

Why? Because it is a very open and dynamic market economy and it is easy to do business here. With more people who speak 3 or more languages in Belgium than in any other part of Europe, English is widely spoken, especially in Brussels.

Where should I start? The British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium is a good place to start. We have all the local knowledge and personal contacts you could need to kick-start your business. Our Accredited Service Providers know the answers to all the questions you didn’t yet know to ask and are happy to share their knowledge with you all through your journey to business success.

Can I use Belgium as a launch pad to other parts of Europe? Yes you can! The chamber is part of a new global trading platform, COBCOE Connects, an online matchmaking service for companies with a personal touch that gives you access to your ideal business opportunity anywhere in Europe and beyond. Check out cobcoe.eu

What is one emerging trend in the business/regulatory environment which you would advise companies in/entering Belgium to be particularly proactive about?

Think digital first. We don’t talk about the digital economy any more – the economy is digital. Your website is your shop window for global trade today, whether for products or services, so make sure you capture all your data online and fully integrate it with your back office administration – from leads generation to successful deals. It saves time, resources and frees up everyone’s time to focus on growing your business.

New online cloud based software ensures that your systems are always up to date, and accessible from anywhere, including your mobile phones. This is particularly important as you expand your business and develop trading opportunities.

Why is it important for new entrants in Belgium to speak with you?

We welcome the opportunity to speak with new and prospective incomers to Belgium.

Starfish MRM specialises in digital business transformation for small and medium sized companies. We are an independent partnership which works with companies to transform the way they work, collaborate and engage utilising the latest digital solutions at a cost that is affordable to them.

Our experienced partners are from the UK, Netherlands and Belgium, so we have been there and done it ourselves. We bring together flexible, joined up solutions, combining our breadth of specific technical expertise and management experience.

Whether you need support for business strategy development, market positioning, or organisational structure and capabilities needed, we can help you to deliver your vision and long term goals. We work with you to define the best online solutions for your needs, implement the processes and systems, and recruit the team members that will enable you to activate your plans.

See our website www.starfishmrm.eu or contact us direct at info@starfishmrm.eu

If you’d like to organise a meeting with any of our Accredited Service Providers, or are interested in becoming one, get in touch with James Pearson – our Business & Trade Executive at james.pearson@britishchamber.be

Golden Bridge

The chamber along with BLCC are looking for applicants for this year’s Golden Bridge awards. 6 months ago, RWS received their award for the steps they’ve made in entering the Belgian market from the UK. We caught up with them this week to see what being a winner has meant for them.

It’s been just over half a year since you won the Golden Bridge Award. What has happened since then for RWS Group?

In November 2015 RWS acquired Corporate Translations Inc (CTi), the world’s leading life sciences translation and linguistic validation provider.  This acquisition has transformed RWS Group to a world leading position in life sciences translations and linguistic validation and further enhances its competitive standing amongst the largest specialist translation companies in the world.

In its latest half year Interim results RWS Group has furthermore reported an excellent six months to 31 March 2016. We have seen this translated into further new business wins and contract renewals in Belgium.

What role does Belgium play in Eclipse Translation’s activities?

RWS Group trades in a large number of overseas markets, but Belgium represents a sizeable overseas markets for the Group and for Eclipse Translations. With a strong background in the legal, chemical and life sciences sector, the Belgian market holds big opportunities and has always been a key market for us.

Our native Dutch and French speaking business development managers, account managers and project managers facilitate contact with Belgian companies and organizations and offer in-house knowledge and understanding of the local market.

In recent years, the number of companies and organizations in Belgium using our services has increased more than tenfold. Our clients now cover the whole spectrum of the Belgian market: private as well as public sector, from SMEs to the largest Belgian companies, and covering many industry sectors.

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What did the Golden Bridge win do for you in terms of reflecting on and celebrating the success of your Belgian activities?

We have used the Award as an opportunity to celebrate and showcase our achievements with relevant clients and staff across the RWS Group. At Eclipse Translations, we have organised a ‘Belgian Day’ to raise awareness and celebrate the award.

The award has also been a vehicle to drive PR, business development and communication activities in the Belgian market, and it has allowed us to increase our social media exposure and attend follow-up events.

With Business Development Managers who understand the culture and speak the local language(s) responsible for targeting further work in the region, winning this award has added further value to our message to prospective clients and demonstrate our commitment to remaining a key player in the Belgian market.

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What have been the main challenges you faced about doing business in Belgium? Any ‘top tips’ to share with other UK companies on how to approach the Belgian market?

A high quality of service and excellent customer service are prerequisites of doing business in Belgium, and certainly as far as language services are concerned, Belgium is a mature and demanding market. And since we are selling a service, a very personal approach adapting to the Belgian way of doing business in which personal contact and mutual confidence are very important, has been adopted with regular visits to potential and existing clients.

Our focus on the Belgian market, making it one of our largest markets, is also testament to the commitment we have demonstrated to growing our relationships with leading corporate and public bodies in the region.

What was your secret to winning the Golden Bridge award, and what tips would you give any prospective candidate?

We won the Golden Bridge award thanks to a company-wide effort. We got everybody involved from the start and we were able to share and communicate the passion and excitement from within the wider teams. This has certainly helped us with pitching and demonstrating firm-wide engagement during the presentations in front of the Golden Bridge jury.

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