Member Spotlight: Chamber President Beata Krakus adding innovation to SACC Chicago

In 2000, Beata Krakus moved to Chicago, a city with a diversified economy with many business opportunities for Swedish companies. Today, she is the President of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago (SACC Chicago) and is in the midst of planning their 2018 events on the theme The Social Side of Business.

Beata is born and raised in Sweden and started her international career right after graduating law school in Stockholm when she moved to Poland, where her parents had emigrated from. She moved there at a time when many Swedish companies wanted to establish themselves in Poland and spent several years working for a Swedish law firm (now Magnusson Law). There she met her American husband with whom she later moved to Chicago. Beata went back to law school in Chicago and is still practicing law, as a partner at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C.

She truly enjoys the city of Chicago and says that it is very interesting from both a personal stand point and from a business perspective. Many big cities have a heavy emphasis on one specific industry, but Chicago has as very diversified economy and is built around different industries. McDonald’s, Boeing, Abbott Labs, Zebra Technologies and a multitude of other companies have their headquarters in the Chicagoland area. Companies take advantage of relatively lower expenses than in other major cities and the geographic location.  With access to O´Hare Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, it makes it a strategic and convenient location. With daily flights from Stockholm and Copenhagen it becomes is easy for Swedish companies to do business in Chicago.

Beata got involved in SACC soon after arriving in to the U.S. and has enjoyed the “SACC experience” tremendously.  SACC Chicago has one employee, Gunn Johnsson, and one trainee, who together with the active Board do a great job. Beata highlights the importance of having a trainee at the Chamber: the trainee contributes greatly by helping with daily operations and making the organization move forward. Without a trainee it would be a huge burden for the Board and she recommends other Chambers to follow the SACC Chicago set-up. In addition to the regular Chamber work, the organization is currently embarking on a project to review its membership levels. They want to distinguish between the offerings to corporate members and individual members, partly to make it more attractive to become a corporate member.  They are only starting to look at this issue, but are currently considering hosting exclusive events solely for corporate members as one benefit of corporate membership.

To add value to SACC Chicago members the Chamber arranges speaker events almost every month. SACC Chicago wants to be the spider in the net and connect their members with each other, and with external partners and corporations. To make the most out of the events the Board starts working on the program for the next year early on by deciding on a theme for the next year. The theme of year 2017 is Innovation, next year the theme will be The Social Side of Business.

– By deciding early on the theme for the following year it has made the planning a lot easier,” says Beata. “It has given us the opportunity to decide on specific topics to address, select and invite speakers, and end 2017 with an almost complete 2018 program. We are now focusing on other issues, such as interesting venues and other organizations to invite to the events, to drive more attendees.

Beata is very excited for their upcoming events. In April they have invited Magnus Penker, CEO & Founder of Innovation 360. They usually invite speakers that they come in contact with through SACC-USA’s events and she underlines the importance of being a member of SACC-USA.

– SACC-USA together with the regional chambers becomes a huge network with great potential, says Beata.