“If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu”

AmChams in Europe annual Transatlantic Conference in the USA
Read more

AmCham Slovenia, as part of its CEO’s Vice-Presidency of the AmChams in Europe organization, the umbrella organization for 45 AmChams from 43 countries, organized AmChams in Europe’s annual Transatlantic Conference in the USA, which was attended by representatives from 29 European and Eurasian AmChams. The delegation saw the conference as extremely successful, as they had the opportunity to learn about both political and economic trends and events, and one of the main messages they brought back from the US is that cooperation, mutual respect and awareness of values is extremely important, and that Europe has to stay connected if it wants to keep up with other countries.

The AmChams in Europe annual conference in the USA was held in Washington, D.C. and Seattle from May 12 – 17, 2019. The 35-member delegation from 29 countries met with prominent American politicians in Washington, D.C. They spoke openly about the global economic situation and viewpoints with representatives of the U.S. Department of Commerce, including Karen Dunn Kelley, the Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce, representatives of the Pentagon, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Atlantic Council. They also met with the Deputy Mayor of Washington, D.C.

The delegation then continued their journey to Washington state on the west coast. They first stopped in Everett and visited the Boeing factory, the largest factory in the world, which develops advancements in the aviation industry. The name Joe Sutter (Suhadolnik in Slovene) is written indelibly into history, as the engineer of Slovenian descent was the lead designer of the Boeing 747, at the time the world’s largest aircraft. They then visited Seattle, a city known for having two of the world’s three trillion-dollar companies. They first visited Accenture, which employs half a million people around the world. One of the leaders at the company is Slovene Miha Kralj, who together with his team identified the most important areas of future development. The main message of the meeting was that Europe is lagging significantly behind the USA and China in terms of digital development, and that it is important who develops the values for tech and how they are developed, as technology is neither good or bad, but people have to decide how it is used.

At BCG, the delegation was presented with an excellent example of public-private partnership, and learned how business leaders, who have to ensure the development of their companies, are very important to the development of society, but that this is meaningless without the development of the community and society. Amazon, whose campus dominates the city, and at which 45,000 of the company’s 680,000 employees work, welcomed them into one of the most unusual corporate facilities in the world, Amazon Spheres, which houses a tropical garden. They also visited the University of Washington, which is known for having excellent connections between science and the business world. Among others they met with Professor Gašper Beguš and Professor Michael Biggins, who are trying to establish a Slovenian chair following the example of their Nordic and Baltic colleagues. They finished their official working visit by visiting Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, where they discussed the importance of the ethical use of artificial intelligence and the importance of cybersecurity. They also learned about the latest technological development trends in trade, agriculture, public administration, energy and other areas.

After the successful conference in the USA, which was organised and led by AmCham Slovenia for the first time, Ajša Vodnik, CEO of AmCham Slovenia and Vice-President of AmChams in Europe, said: “After this successful trip I am convinced more than ever of the importance of respectful communication and cooperation. That the European continent has to be connected, and a little more agile. And that we need visionary leaders if we want to continue to be a part of the development sector, and at the same time emphasise our European values. I am also happy that Slovenia now has a seat at the main table, as the saying that our American colleagues often repeat is probably true: ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’ And in taking a seat at an organization of 43 countries, Slovenia brings to the table above all an appetite for cooperation, respect and awareness of values.”

About the delegation
AmCham Slovenia, as part of its CEO’s Vice-Presidency of the European organization AmChams in Europe and AmChams in Europe headquarters, organized the organization’s annual conference in the USA. The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness of the importance of the role of Transatlantic relations, to strengthen existing partnerships, promote the organization and gain insight into trends and events in both the political and economic spheres. The conference was held in Washington, D.C. and Seattle from May 12 – 17, 2019. 36 AmCham representatives from 29 countries in Europe and Eurasia travelled to the USA. The delegation included representatives from Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Israel, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Moldavia, Montenegro, Norway, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

About AmChams in Europe
Established in 1963, AmChams in Europe serves as the umbrella organization for 45 American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams) from 43 countries throughout Europe and Eurasia. In Europe we represent the interests of more than 17,000 American and European companies employing 20 million workers – account for more than $ 1.1 trillion in investment on both sides of the Atlantic.

AmCham Slovenia has been represented at the organization’s headquarters since January 1, 2019, when the CEO of AmCham Slovenia, Ajša Vodnik, MA, was elected to a two-year term as Vice-President of the organization by 44 AmChams. In addition to Vodnik, the organization’s management also includes representatives from the Netherlands, Ukraine, Sweden, Albania, Montenegro and the United Kingdom.