News Article

News Article

Chair Letter to BritCham Shanghai Members

8 Aug 2023

by Ray Chisnall

 

Dear members and friends,

This is my 25th year in China and, as some of you know, it will be my last. For a mix of business and family reasons, we have made the decision to move back to the UK. I will split my time between UK and China from mid-August until my tenure as Chair is completed at the end of this year.

To ensure no disruption to the leadership and activities of the Chamber, our Vice Chairs (Kirsten Johnston & Ted Wan) will be covering the day-to-day demands for me. As per our Constitution, a new Chair will then be elected in January next year.

China has been a significant part of my & my family’s lives since I first moved to Guangzhou in 1995, then moved to Shanghai in 1997, and after a period in the UK we returned in 2004.

The pace of change has never relented and the city I have called home for 23 years has changed out of all recognition. Yet the spirit and vibrancy of the place and its people remain unchanged.

China has given me much more than I have been able to offer in return. From business and personal growth for that young-ish man of 32 arriving to a place he did not know, seeing our daughter grow from her arrival just before her 2nd birthday through to leaving for University in the UK in August 2020, and making life-long friends whose support & affection has made the few hard times a lot easier.

I remain a staunch Sinophile, despite the negative reaction that seems to elicit from too many people, many of whom have little or no experience or knowledge of the country or its people. Like any country (and the UK is certainly no exception), there are positive and less positive aspects. But regardless of concerns or differences, I firmly believe that engagement & dialogue are the only ways forward in this increasingly judgmental & polarized world in which we now live. We all need to try to be the voice of reason and act as the grown-up in the room when people spout uninformed nonsense.

So, while in the UK, I will continue to support all the Chamber does and continue to promote the many benefits of business and engagement between the UK and China.

The Chamber has grown and developed significantly over the past 4 years through the vision & hard work of many people. A huge thank you on behalf of myself & the Chamber to my predecessor, Rosie Hawes, and to our former Executive Director, James Dunn, who were instrumental in many of the new initiatives that have now placed BritCham at the forefront of business in Shanghai and across China. I would also like to thank our out-going Consul General, Chris Wood, and my fellow Executive Committee members who all work hard on your behalf to keep the Chamber delivering on its vision. And last but definitely the most important, our ever-helpful and hard-working Secretariat team who ensure everything we do is of the highest quality and always delivered with a friendly smile.

Being in Shanghai we are at the centre of UK-China related business as most of the major companies are based here. So our representation of all that is great about British business and the two-way trade with China matters, not only to our members but also to both governments. To support this, we have completed our rebrand to make the Chamber look and feel exactly as it is, a vibrant inclusive diverse & creative community. We have become the leading Chamber in China for all things related to ESG through our ESG China Awards and ESG Summit plus multiple roundtables, seminars, etc. And we have added a new family orientated event, the Virgin Atlantic Great British Day Out – the first one was finally held on 20 May after several years of waiting and was a great success, so we will hopefully see you all there next year.

And we have a fantastic new Executive Director to replace James Dunn. Stuart Dunn (no relation) brought his experience in event management and F&B, to successfully deliver the British Day as the first major event under his leadership. His background as an entrepreneur and most recently working in the DBT team in the Shanghai Consulate mean he understands both business and government perspectives. With Stuart, his exceptional Deputy Executive Director Janet Jiang and the whole Chamber team, BritCham Shanghai is fantastically positioned to continue being the key organization representing UK business in China.

I hope I get a chance to see most of you before I depart but if not, thank you for supporting the Chamber. It has been a tremendous honour to have served you & the Chamber over the last 12 years and I will depart knowing the Chamber is in an excellent position and with great people involved to lead it forward.

 

Ray Chisnall

Chair, BritCham Shanghai

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