For the last time before her mandate ends, Denise Campbell Bauer, US Ambassador to Belgium, was the guest of honor and keynote speaker at AmCham Belgium and the American Club of Brussels’ Joint Gala Dinner, held at The Hotel Brussels on September 28.
In her keynote speech, Ambassador Bauer called on the room of business leaders to “seize [the] opportunities to lead in order to help improve our communities, deepen the ties between Europe and the United States and promote economic prosperity for all of our citizens.” She highlighted that in addition to governments, business and other organizations also have a critical role to play.
On a geopolitical level, many external events have created challenges not only for Belgium and the United States, but also for Europe and the world: terror attacks, the refugee crisis, Brexit and the Ukrainian crisis. Ambassador Bauer emphasized that no country can address these challenges alone, and that we must all look beyond our short-term political interests, and instead seize opportunities to lead wherever they present themselves, whether it’s through direct engagement, advocacy or simply by setting an example: “Great things happen when leaders have the courage to take risks, identify new trends, or better yet, start new trends.”
Ambassador Bauer observed that not only do US companies make large contributions to the Belgian economy with total US investment approaching $50 billion, but they have also helped set positive examples in the Belgian community through highlighting the benefits of diversity in the workplace or continuing to lead on corporate social responsibility. Many US companies in Belgium lead the way in charitable activities, environmental conservation and sustainability. (This was also highlighted in AmCham Belgium’s December 2015 report The Importance of US Companies in Belgium: Community Impact.)
Another way to lead for AmCham Belgium members and US companies in Belgium is to continue to inform the world that Belgium is a good place to do business (for example, through initiatives like the #Yes2Belgium campaign) and by helping to make Belgium an even more attractive investment destination. The Ambassador noted that it is not too early to consider the potential effects of Brexit on Belgium, and the opportunities to lead that come with it. With its world-renowned ports and its location at the heart of Europe, Belgium has long been an important gateway for commerce to the European Union and there may be opportunities for Belgium to grow as a European gateway in a post-Brexit world.
Ambassador Bauer’s speech Opportunities to Lead can be read in full on the US Embassy’s website.
Thank you to Delta Air Lines for donating two round-trip business class tickets to the US for our prize draw, and congratulations to the winner, Els De Cremer of Borderless Executive Search.