Swedish-american chamber of commerce

GEORGIA
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  • 30 Nov 2018 2:29 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    This week we have interviewed Svante Hjorth, SACC-GA Board member and Founder & CEO of Arycom, an operator and provider of satellite connectivity solutions in the Americas, as well as Southpartner, a local partner for foreign tech companies wanting to set up and manage new business ventures in South America. Read on about Svante’s background, how he came up with the idea of his companies, what he thinks is behind their success, and much more. Enjoy!

    Background

    Svante was born and raised in a small town outside Jönköping, Sweden. After Senior high, he served as Second Lieutenant in the Swedish Artillery, and worked briefly as teacher and engineer before he attended the Institute of Technology at Linköping University where he received a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management. Throughout university Svante did internships abroad, and after writing his Master’s thesis in New York he also spent six months in Chile. When returning to Sweden, he worked as Management consultant but it didn’t take long until he left abroad again.

    - I was offered a job that changed the direction of my life - a position as Market Consultant at the Swedish Trade Council (now Business Sweden), helping Swedish companies to establish and grow their business in Brazil! So three months later, I was on a flight to São Paulo, and have lived on this side of the Atlantic ever since.

     

    Southpartner & Arycom

    Shortly after the big move, Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor was looking for an Area Sales Manager in Brazil. Svante was offered the position, and he later advanced as Business Development Manager, being responsible for setting up Telenor Satellite Services'​subsidiary in Brazil and establishing a distribution channel in Latin America. It was through Telenor he got into satellite communications, and also how he came up with the business idea of his first company, Arycom.

    - While working for Telenor I identified a need on the market. The local partner that Telenor was looking for in Brazil simply didn’t exist, so I created it – Arycom. Arycom is a provider of satellite voice and broadband data solutions for customers on land, at sea and in the air. During my time at Business Sweden, I also noticed there was a need for local partners to the foreign companies that Business Sweden assisted getting in to the Brazilian market, so I created a second company – Southpartner. Southpartner is a local partner for foreign tech companies that want to set up and manage new business ventures in South America.

    However, shortly after having started his first business, Svante got one of those offers you cannot refuse. Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), the satellite operator and pioneer of mobile satellite communications, wanted to set up its Latin American operations in Miami and was looking for a Regional Director. Svante got the job, and later became Vice President of the Americas. In the meantime, his business partner was running Arycom and Southpartner. In 2008 however, Arycom received an important license to sell satellite services in Brazil, and with the license in place, Svante decided to step off the corporate life and take over the leadership of his companies.

    - I felt it was a “now or never” chance to try my wings and see if I could turn my companies into what I had dreamt of. I definitely think I am more of an entrepreneur than a corporate person. I love to create things, and have a strong vision of what I want to accomplish which is sometimes hard to combine with a corporate job. I had been working in the corporate world most of my career, but ever since I jumped off the corporate ladder I have not regretted it. Arycom grew its business from a start-up to one of the leading operators and providers of mobile satellite communications in Brazil, and now, in the Americas.

    Challenges

    Despite having an entrepreneurial spirit, starting his own business on the other side of the world has not exactly been challenge-free.

    - You know when people say “that’s not rocket science”, well, our business actually is, so I guess I didn’t make it easy for me. Also, even though Brazil is a vast country with huge potential, it is a jungle of bureaucracy, complex legal structures and credit risks, so it is not an easy market to start your business in. Besides my own companies, I have helped many foreign companies into the market over the last twenty years, so I have learnt a lot along the way.

    Both companies have done well, and besides Brazil and South America, they have now launched Arycom in the US as well, focusing initially on providing connectivity solutions to customers in business aviation and agribusiness. They also plan to launch Southpartner in the US in 2019. Svante explains what he thinks is the reason for the companies’ success.

    - People! I have had the luck of having very skilled and smart people in my team. That’s our main differential. Also, compared to larger companies, we are more agile and support our customers really well.

    Swedish connection

    Ever since Svante moved from Sweden twenty years ago, he has maintained a strong bond with the Swedish community in all countries he has lived. Last year, he won the prestigious “Swedish Excellence Reward”, a reward given to a person or company with Swedish connections that has made a tremendous impact within the Swedish-American Community in Georgia.

    - I always had a strong connection to Sweden both business wise and personally, even though I’ve lived abroad for twenty years. I am proud and happy to be Swedish, and I always wanted to maintain that connection. Therefore, it felt natural to join SACC-GA when I moved to Atlanta, and then accepting the opportunity to join the Board of Directors. I’m happy to be able to contribute to the Swedish community and to trade with Sweden, and if I can help SACC-GA race the bar over the next few years it would give me great satisfaction.

     

    Within the next few years, another connection to Sweden is on the radar.

    - We are planning to establish both Arycom and Southpartner in Europe, not necessarily within the next few months but in 1-2 years, and Sweden would be a natural base. We started our international expansion a few years ago by setting up a subsidiary in the US, and the next step will definitely be Europe. Sweden would be a good location, as conditions for start-ups and SMEs are very favorable, and it would enable us to support our customers in Latin America, North America and Europe. A lot of fun ahead!

  • 6 Nov 2018 11:24 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    After two years it is time for Sara Persson to leave her role as Executive Director at SACC-Georgia for new adventures in Sweden. Sara and her husband Nico are moving to Sara’s hometown Karlstad where the couple also met three years ago. The reason for the move back is because Nico is stepping into a new and exciting role there for the Swedish company Valmet, which he is currently working for in their Atlanta office.

    What are you mostly looking forward to with your move?
    Being closer to family, friends and nature. I grew up on the countryside and I am a big hiker! I have really missed the Swedish lakes, forests and wilderness. We are also expecting next year so I am looking forward to starting our next chapter in life in Sweden.

    What has been the best memories during your time as Executive Director?
    It's hard to pinpoint anything in specific, I think the best memories in general have been connecting with so many different members, people, companies and organizations. I have learnt so much in the process. One of the best things about my time has also been working with our talented trainees, following their journey and watching them grow has been so rewarding.

    What will you miss mostly about Atlanta?
    The sun, the people, UberEats, and excellent restaurants. Certainly NOT the traffic :-)

    SACC-GA would like to thank Sara for everything she has done for the chamber, and wish her the best of luck in the future!


  • 6 Nov 2018 1:28 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)


    We are happy to announce that SACC-Georgia has appointed a new Executive Director - Ida Pond! 
    Ida is originally from Örebro, Sweden but moved to the US in 1998 for her studies. She graduated with a BA in Public Relations at Campbell University, Buies Creek, NC and MBA at Mercer University, Atlanta, GA. Since then, Ida has worked in various roles within client relations and wealth management. She now lives in Dunwoody with her husband and two children.

    Ida has been involved in the Swedish community here in Atlanta during her time here, and her husband has been a member of SACC-GA for many years. In the past he has been involved with SACC through the Viking Club which was a group for young professionals under 30, and is currently on the board for Svenska Skolan where she has also previously taught. 

    What made you apply for the role as Executive Director?

    - I applied for this position because it is always something I have been interested in, but the opportunity for me to apply hasn't presented itself until now. I think I can contribute to SACC-GA partly because of my network and knowledge of the other Swedish organizations but also though my drive to make the chamber grow.

    What do you look forward the most with your new role at SACC-GA?

    - I look forward to working with the chamber because I so strongly believe in its mission to promote Swedish trade in Georgia. Furthermore, I also believe that the chamber serves as a great way for Swedes in Georgia to connect in general. Many of my closest friends I have met through SACC-GA and other Swedish organizations in Atlanta.

    We warmly welcome her to take over the role and are certain that she will do a great job with the chamber!

  • 2 Nov 2018 11:02 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    For this week’s #featurefriday we had the chance to speak to Ivan Turk, Regional Managing Director - South East for Nefab Americas. Nefab is a multinational industrial packaging provider founded in Sweden, and the company is also corporate member of SACC-GA. Read on about Ivan’s background and journey at Nefab, as well as the company itself, and much more, enjoy!

    Background and Career
    Ivan is originally from Madrid in Spain, where he graduated with an MBA from IE Business School. It was 14 years ago Ivan’s journey started with Nefab as a Salesperson in Spain. Since then, he has taken on various roles not just in Spain, but also for Nefab Corporate and Americas. It was in 2013 Ivan first moved to the US when he was relocated to Chicago, IL. A year later, he joined the South East US region with head office in Norcross, GA as their Sales Director.
    - I have been with Nefab for all these years because of all the opportunities I have been provided, which have allowed me to grow tremendously along the way both professionally and personally. I feel very grateful for this and enjoy the fact that I get to work with people from different countries and cultures.

    In January 2016, Ivan moved on as Managing Director - South East, the role he is currently at and which he explains does not go without challenges.
    - Coming from a sales background, the largest challenge in my current role has been to get up to speed on the sheer operational side of our business. Manufacturing is one of Nefab’s key competencies, and is a critical component to deliver on the commitments to our customers. At Nefab, we do have a strong focus on continually improving our operations through more efficient, innovative ways of doing things.

    Having lived and worked in both Spain and the US throughout his career, Ivan has experienced differences in the business culture between the two, which is also something he needs to consider being located in the US.
    - Overall, everything in the US moves at a faster pace. For instance, when working through a project, the planning stage usually takes longer in Spain compared to the US, where decisions need to be made almost instantly, right or wrong. Then, if that decision does not turn out as expected, it is fine to simply adjust along the way. Whereas in Spain, the execution stage may go a little more smoothly as there has already been a lot of thought put into the different possible scenarios you might run into.

    Nefab

    Nefab is a Swedish-based company with headquarters in Jönköping, Sweden. The company specializes in packaging solutions for the Telecom, Energy, Vehicle, Healthcare Equipment and Aerospace industries. The Nefab Group has approximately 2,600 employees and a revenue of USD 450 million in 2017, with a presence in over 30 countries. Ivan explains what he thinks are the factors behind the company’s global success.
    - I think Nefab’s total cost approach is a large factor of our success. We can greatly reduce the total cost of logistics for our customers through a smarter packaging solution. I also believe our engineering capabilities and ability to solve our customer’s packaging problem by supplying the complete solution that will fit their needs is a part of the success. Moreover, our presence in over 30 countries allows us to work with global companies, and provide them with technically complex packaging solutions with the same quality standards, no matter where.

    Nefab are corporate members of SACC-GA, and Ivan explains how the Swedish heritage is something Nefab is proud of, and is also present in the company culture.
    - We are proud of our Swedish heritage and believe that SACC-GA is a great platform to promote the Swedish culture. It also allows us to get in touch with other Swedish and European companies, share experiences and learn from their successes and challenges with doing business here in America. Furthermore, Nefab’s core values are Simplicity, Respect, and Empowerment, which I find to be very representative of the Swedish people – being humble, down-to-earth, good listeners, and always willing to provide autonomy to facilitate developing yourself.

    Relation to Sweden
    Ivan himself have lived in Sweden and probably been to more places in the country than most Swedes have. 
    I had the opportunity to live in Jönköping for six months when I was a trainee at Nefab AB. It was a great experience that allowed me to learn more about Nefab and the Swedish way of doing things. I am lucky that I have been almost all over Sweden, from Riksgränsen up in the North down to Malmö, and from Gothenburg to Stockholm.

    In terms of the Swedish traditions, it is clear that Ivan enjoys the ones related to the warmer months of the country up in the North.
    - My favorite Swedish holiday is Midsommar, it is definitely a one-of-a-kind party! I totally recommend going to a Midsommar party in Sweden – lots of fun! Here in Atlanta I really enjoy SACC-GA’s Sweden Day as well as the events that are hosted along with other European chambers of commerce. They are all great for networking, meeting very interesting people, and having a good time!

  • 26 Oct 2018 1:31 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)


    For this week's #featurefriday we have talked to Jonas Jarvholm, Director in the SACC-Georgia board and Patent Attorney at Ballard Spahr, a national law firm and corporate member off SACC-Georgia. Read on about how Jonas' talent in tennis took him to the US, and how his golf interest lead to his career path, and much more, enjoy!

    Background

    Jonas was born and raised in Partille, which is located just outside of Gothenburg, Sweden. He has played tennis for as long as he can remember, and eventually had the opportunity to get a college tennis scholarship here in the US. In 1998, he made the big move across the Atlantic ocean and has stayed since.
    - Atlanta is one of the tennis capitals of the world with about 80,000 competitive players. I have been involved in the tennis community since I moved to Atlanta in 2002. One of my favorite memories was when Mats Wilander and I played against Michael Pernfors (two famous tennis players from Sweden) and his college double partner in an exhibition match.

    From Chemistry to Law
    After college, Jonas pursued a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology. His research involved modifying and analyzing semiconductive surfaces. The water repellency of these surfaces was one of the properties he investigated, and this research project and his interest in golf led to his current career path.
    - I realized that a golf ball attracts water and mud when it is wet outside, and therefore doesn’t perform as well. So I figured why not invent a golf ball that stays clean and dry at all times. I hired a law firm to help me obtain a patent on my invention. Unfortunately, my golf ball never took off, but it gave me an introduction to patent law.

    After graduating from Georgia Tech, he had the opportunity to work as Scientific Advisor for a law firm. Jonas explains how this often is how you get started in patent law, as all inventions are technical, and therefore a science background is needed to fully understand the inventions. He very much enjoyed the work and decided to go to law school, and now works as a Patent Attorney for Ballard Spahr.
    - There is definitely a connection between law and science! What i really like about my job is that I get the best of both worlds - half science, half law. Half the time I talk to inventors about their ideas, experiments, and results, and how they differ from what has has been done before. The other half of my job is to take what I have learned from the inventors and help them get a valuable patent for themselves or their company.


    Ballard Spahr and Patent Law
    Ballard Spahr is a national law firm with around 650 attorneys in 15 offices. It is a general practice firm and focuses on all corporate aspects, such as litigation, business and finance, public finance, real estate, and intellectual property, which is the area Jonas works in. Jonas further explains how the industry in general is similar in the US compared to other countries, such as Sweden, but how the actual law surrounding patents differs a lot.
    - Fundamentally the industry is kind of the same worldwide, law firms help individuals or companies either manage risk or create value. In terms of patent law though, there is no world wide patent, each individual country has its own laws related to patents. For instance, strategies that work to obtain a patent in Europe can be fruitless here in the US, and vice versa.


    Ties to Sweden
    Since Swedish companies needs a US patent attorney to get a US patent, Jonas has a lot of contact with Swedish companies and people.
    - I work a lot with Swedish companies and I also have my entire family there, so I’d say that I spend half of my time with Sweden in some form. I travel to Sweden at least twice a year to visit current and prospective clients, as well as family.

    Ballard Spahr is a corporate member of SACC-Georgia, and Jonas himself is very involved in the Swedish community here in Atlanta, being one of the Directors in the organization’s board.
    - So Ballard Spahr joined SACC-GA because of me! Jokes aside, I do work a lot with Sweden and I love my Swedish heritage. I think it’s important to keep that and invest in it, and SACC-GA is a fantastic organization for that. It gives me benefits in two ways, both through business opportunities with Sweden, but also providing the opportunity to meet other Swedes and do the things we like, eat what we like, celebrate cultural events and so on. Besides the Golf Tournament that I help organize, I really enjoy Sweden Day and the Lucia Gala, because it brings  back memories from home. SACC-GA does a great job of making sure that the traditions are kept here as much as possible. I am a huge believer in personal relationships, and that itself is also a reason to join SACC-GA!
        

  • 26 Oct 2018 11:51 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)


    Executive Director Position
    The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce Georgia

    The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce, Georgia (SACC-Georgia) is looking for a self-driven and motivated candidate to serve as The Executive Director!

    SACC-Georgia is a non-profit organization that offers its members business services, events, and develops and cultivates business opportunities and relationships through a unique international business community. SACC-Georgia is located in Atlanta, home to world-renowned companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Georgia Pacific, SunTrust Bank and CNN. Atlanta is the undisputed business hub of the Southeastern U.S., offering southern charm and world-class sophistication.

    The Executive Director will report to the Chairperson and Board of Directors and is responsible for the day-to-day management and operations. This includes working with the Chairperson and Board of Directors on strategic plans, and to achieve the goals set by the board with the support of staff. This position requires a dedicated, capable and energetic person who can keep the pace of current developments going forward, and who wishes to continue to bring SACC-Georgia to new heights. The Executive Director must provide "above and beyond" levels of commitment and service in an efficient and independent manner. The responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

    • Recruit, retain and oversee staff to manage the day-to-day operations of SACC Georgia;

    • Approve overall correspondence from the office of the Chamber such as newsletters, invitations and general outreach;

    • Oversee the progress of Chamber committees and ensure that committees and task forces work in accordance with their mission statements;

    • Organize Board meetings and Annual General Meetings with the help of staff; and

    • Serve as the day-to-day public face of the Chamber, representing the organization at programs and in other public outreach opportunities with members and others. 

      Qualifications

      • Bachelor or Master’s degree in International Business or equivalent.

      • Fluency in written/verbal English. Fluency in Swedish is a plus but not a requirement.

      • Experience in business development, cold-calling, and executive communication desired.

      • Experience in sales preferred.

      • Highly organized and strong attention to detail.

      • Leadership, communication and board relations skills desired.

        Details

        We are looking for a contractor who is eligible to work in the United States. This is a part-time position, 20 hours/week but could turn into a full-time position for the right candidate. Start date November 2018.

        How to Apply

        Email your resume and cover letter to sara.persson@sacc-georgia.org

        To view this in a PDF, click here! 

  • 16 Oct 2018 2:07 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)


    We would like to invite all members and non-members for some casual after work drinks at Fadó Irish Pub in Midtown Atlanta. What better way to spend a Thursday than networking and mingling over a drink? In the bar you will be able to buy a variety of drinks and pints, and or the hungry ones Fadó has a tasty food menu as well.

    CLICK HERE to register!

  • 12 Oct 2018 10:38 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    Thank you everyone who attended the joint Young Professionals Networking Drink last night at Monday Night Brewing! We had a blast networking with people from the different international chambers, touring the brewery and of course, drinking beer!

    We look forward seeing you all at our upcoming events!



  • 10 Oct 2018 9:13 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    This week, we had the chance to speak to Tobias Martinsson who is CFO at Qmatic, a global leader in queuing and customer journey management solutions as well as corporate members of SACC-Georgia. Read more about Tobias and his background, as well as the very interesting company Qmatic, its previous journey as well as what lies ahead in the future below.


    Background
    Tobias grew up in Vänersborg, a small town close to Sweden’s second largest city Gothenburg, where he graduated from Handelshögskolan majoring in Business Management. Tobias has been with Qmatic since 2011, and after about three years at the company he was offered to join the US organization as CFO.

    - It was an easy choice to take on the role here in the US! I was excited about the challenge of the role as CFO and had never been to Atlanta. My wife and I have always liked travelling so we are very grateful for getting the opportunity to get to know this new part of the world.

    Qmatic
    Qmatic is a global leader in queuing and customer journey management solutions, offering products and solutions that connect people to services. They do this through their own software platform and hardware solutions which they design and manufacture. With their offering Qmatic helps their clients provide great customer journey experiences. Globally, the company focuses on four key industry sectors - Public, Healthcare, Financial and Retail.

    - A great thing with the Qmatic offering is that we have solutions that can fit into most environments, even if it is for an enterprise client with over 1,000+ offices, or clients with perhaps only one office. Qmatics offering is scalable in both size and functionality, which means that we can grow with our customers and create long term relationships.

    The past
    Being a product technology company, Qmatic has transformed a lot since its establishment in 1981, a lot because of the fast and advanced technological development since then.
    - Our offering has moved from what was once basically only a hardware product made for one single location, to today being a large enterprise software platform with a lot of integration points. To stay relevant on the market, we have grown with our customers and listened to them for input into our product development. Being a global company, we have also managed to gain experiences from all over the world and taken that into account when entering new markets.

    Tobias explains further how innovation is something always present in the company’s culture, as well as being influenced by its values and at some levels its Swedish heritage.
    - In a very dynamic way, we have created a culture of a ’30 year old start-up’ to stay relevant and drive innovation. We also do have a Swedish influence in our culture. For instance, we have adopted the “Swedish Fika”, which we try to have regularly as a social gathering where we share company updates. However, we also work in global teams where influences are being shared in both directions. Our corporate values are built on four key words - Commitment, Expertise, Teamwork and Ownership. They seem to work everywhere and can be felt in all our companies, blended well with the local culture.

    The present of Qmatic
    Being a company on a constantly and fast changing market with many innovations and new entrants does not go without challenges.
    - For Qmatic, our challenge is that we are a fairly small company in the technology market, even though we are the biggest one within our space. We do not have the strong brand name as some large technology companies do. However, this can also be an advantage to us in the sense that we are the true experts in our field.

     Despite having a product that fits all around the world, the challenges as well as market presence somewhat differs around the globe.
    - At Qmatic we can see that depending on where we operate in the world, our solutions tend to work better in some segments than others. For example when comparing Sweden and the US, we are much stronger in the public sector in the US. People in the US visit places like DMV and Social Security offices. In Sweden it is more common to do these type of services online and Qmatic has a stronger prescence within the retail industry. If you the Middle Eastern region, we are strong in the financial sector of retail banks. 

    Relation to SACC-GA
    SACC-GA is proud to have Qmatic as one of our corporate members, and Tobias himself is an active member of the chamber who enjoys the events.
    - Qmatic joined SACC-GA because we wanted to have a closer tie to our Swedish heritage. The organization also has a very active community which makes it a great network to be part of. I have personally been to quite a few events over the past years and I have really enjoyed company visits like the ones at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Thomas Concrete. My favorite event however is probably the one I just participated in, the annual Golf Tournament. This year it was arranged together with the Dutch Chamber, which was a great success that I think SACC-GA should continue to build on.

    The future
    Finally, Tobias explains that the future of Qmatic lies in providing even better experiences for their clients, through providing more data insights and innovation.
    - With our systems there are many unique touchpoints where clients can access data and statistics. The future includes utilization of a variety of merging technologies, from better business intelligence to AI and beyond. We can see that customer experiences are getting more and more transparent in today's world, and that a good or bad experience can be shared amongst millions of potential customers through various from of media. All organizations need to understand how to improve the experience for their customers. Qmatic will help them succeeding in this area.

  • 4 Oct 2018 10:59 AM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

    We would like to take the opportunity to thank our sponsors and everyone who attended the annual Golf Tournament on Tuesday, this year held together with the Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce SouthEastern United States! It was a fantastic day and we hope that everyone enjoyed themselves. Congratulations to the winners of the tournament as well as the raffle prices - we already look forward seeing you and everyone else next year!

    More pictures will be posted shortly.

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ABOUT SACC-GEORGIA

The primary objective of SACC-Georgia is to promote an exchange of business, trade, investment, technology and culture between Sweden and the state of Georgia. SACC-Georgia is one of 19 regional chambers across the United States, cooperating under the umbrella of SACC-USA based in Washington, D.C.

CONTACT

info@sacc-georgia.org
+1 470-378-1180
715 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

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