ISSUE #57 – Interview with Pierre Verdière, FCCS President (2008-2015), and MD, Hermès South East Asia Pte Ltd
The French Chamber has grown significantly over the last seven years, and its membership base has more than doubled.
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?
I started my career as an industrial financial controller at the Yves Saint Laurent Perfume manufacturing site in the north of Paris. I was then promoted to Cost Controller for the whol
e group and started travelling to the United States, Spain and Australia… the travel bug definitely got to me.
After joining Hermès, I indicated to the company my desire to work abroad and two years later, my desire became a reality when I was sent to New York to take on the role of Chief Financier Officer of Hermès’s US subsidiary.
Four years later, I came back to Europe and stayed there for two years before coming to Singapore in 1998.
HOW DID YOU COME TO BE INVOLVED WITH THE FCCS?
I had always wanted to be involved in extra professional activities and when a friend of mine told me that it would be a good idea to try to join the board of the FCCS, I said to myself “why not?”. I soon became Vice President and went on to become the President, thanks to the back up support from the former President, Mr Jean Luc Anglada.
WHAT ROLE DO THE FCCS AND ITS BOARD MEMBERS PLAY?
The FCCS plays a key role as part of the French institutions present in Singapore. Firstly, it animates the French business community, organising breakfast talks, a gala dinner and all kinds of informative seminars. There are 18 committees that are the backbone of these activities.
Secondly, the FCCS promotes and helps French companies settle down in Singapore, sourcing them in France, carrying out market studies, organising commercial missions, helping to set up companies, obtaining visas, and so on.
Thirdly, it helps French citizens find jobs in Singapore.
The board is elected by our members and the executive committee is elected by the board members. Their role is to define a strategy that is then put in place by the permanent staff under the supervision of Carine Lespayandel, the Chamber’s Executive Director. From my experience, all of the board members must work hand in hand and there should be a strong fit between the President and the Executive Director.
HOW HAS THE FCCS EVOLVED DURING YOUR PRESIDENCY? WHAT MILESTONES STAND OUT?
The FCCS has grown significantly over the last seven years, and its membership base has more than doubled. Its offer of services has also expanded considerably and the team is three times bigger.
Among all the significant milestones I would mention:
- the setup of new committees, in all areas that could be of some interest to our members. This has considerably increase the numbers of events, with up to 150 gatherings each year and a total of 5,500 attendees. This includes a very prestigious gala dinner, which is organised on a yearly basis and showcases the exquisite elegance of France;
- the enhanced services provided to the French companies willing to set up a business in Singapore including a 44-desk state-of-the-art incubator. The FCCS is very focused on supporting SMEs as well as entrepreneurs who represent 22% of today’s membership;
- the strong development of our Recruitment services, which include a training offer.
All in all, the Chamber is now a big player in the economic environment in Singapore and is highly praised by its counterparts in Paris as well as its customers.
HOW DO YOU LOOK BACK ON YOUR TIME AS PRESIDENT OF THE FCCS?
These past seven years have been fantastic for me as they have broadened my perspective on economic issues in Singapore and France.
With Carine Lespayandel and her team, we have developed a very efficient tool to service our fellow French people. We have also managed to establish excellent relationships with our partners, CCI in France, the French Embassy and Business France in Singapore as well as the EuroCham. And of course, we have developed very close partnerships with all Singaporean government agencies.
ON A MORE PERSONAL LEVEL, WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORIES WILL YOU KEEP FROM YOUR TIME AT FCCS?
When I think about these seven years, a lot of memories come to my mind.
First of all, my close relationship with Carine Lespayandel has enabled us to drive the Chamber efficiently.
Secondly, the excellent ambiance at board meetings and executive committee meetings has enabled us to work very hard in a friendly manner.
Thirdly, the great contact that I have enjoyed with entrepreneurs, people with strong will who are the ones who can create jobs in the future.
And, finally, the pleasure of wearing a different disguise at each gala dinner, which allowed me to somewhat surprise audiences in a very formal environment.
PHOTO: Official launch of the first So Chic Guide
Interview published in the FOCUS Magazine “SG50” – May 2015