Although 100-day reviews are typically the norm, I was tempted to use my inaugural President’s View as a self-report on my first 30 days in Taiwan. But it would be more fun to grade you, Dear Readers, with the following “report card.” How have staff, members, and partners performed at breaking in their new Chamber president?
Statistics (A+): With 700 attendees, including a record 157 governmental officials who were personally thanked for their contributions to fostering a friendly business environment, you aced the Hsieh Nien Fan test for the 53rd straight year. You were voted “most popular” for your effective collaboration with AIT and other organizations in preparing for the event. Impressive calculus by AmCham’s resourceful staff (and friends at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Osaka) helped to shepherd President Wylegala into Taiwan and through quarantine, which finished just 48 hours before the April 21st banquet. Extra credit for spirited table-side networking, including an impressive turnout of mayors and deputy mayors…and a head table with no fewer than two presidents – myself and Madame President Tsai – who are cat-loving, Cornell alumni!
Social Studies (A): You socialized the president via events covering priority sectors banking and life sciences. Last semester’s valedictorian, Leo Seewald, helped the freshman president preview annual blockbuster Bio ASIA-Taiwan, to be held online and at the Nangang Exhibition Center from July 22, meeting prospective AmCham members in the process. Two meetings of the unique joint AmCham-ECCT Banking Committee advanced the production of its 2021 White Paper and probed expanding the committee’s advocacy agenda from regulator to policymaker planes. Rounding out this subject, Officer and full Board meetings and a memorable Hakka lunch with staff were equal parts governance training and team building.
Government (A): Good work landing an extended discussion on April 29 between Board members and Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua and her team to review sectoral and cross-cutting economic issues. Perhaps the Chamber will return the favor with focused briefings with Minister Wang regarding Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue (EPPD) or Taiwan Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) matters or her recent work on critical supply chain issues with Washington’s National Economic Council.
You notched high marks by continuing Chamber support for the landmark Taiwan Fellowship Act, which is currently progressing through the U.S. Congress and was mentioned by Senator Edward Markey, one of the bill’s principal co-sponsors, in his video remarks at Hsieh Nien Fan. In Taiwan, the Chamber continues engagement on talent cultivation alongside the Gold Card Office by surveying the potential to sustain and develop 2020’s wave of COVID-inspired migration to Taiwan.
Summary Grade: Across the Chamber “curriculum” – and shoehorned into a mere nine workdays – staff, board, members, and partners granted me a productive and uplifting welcome. Next semester we will redouble the pace and offer additional tests. We will tackle a Board retreat to set strategic goals and continue the process of rolling out our new AmCham Taiwan name and brand, culminating in our 70th anniversary celebration. I look forward to time with the AIT and our other core partners for considering how to seize on the intense current interest in Taiwan within the U.S. and globally, perhaps via a modified set of Doorknock engagements. Abetted by you, I have found Taipei and Taiwan easy to navigate and dazzlingly hospitable. It is an honor to be engaged in significant work even as I enjoy the privilege of a safe, relatively carefree, and nostalgically normal daily existence, thanks to Taiwan’s brilliant pandemic control.
Homework: Accept my sincere thanks for the warm welcome by so many and my strong desire to continue connecting with and learning from this remarkable AmCham community. Hope to see you at the next happy hour. No need to have parents sign and return this report card.