EGN Singapore franchise has been purchased by Swede Nick Jonsson and partners.
Nick Jonsson from the knowledge-sharing network EGN believes that the way we network is changing now and it will probably be with us for the rest of our lives. Not to mention, it will be a different networking landscape when we come out of this pandemic.
Amidst the COVID-19 virus crisis, the Swede whose career in Southeast Asia is already long and successful has also just announced some positive business news that will cement his own continued presence in Singapore.
Along with his partner/wife Dona Amelia and also Mr AJ Boelens (who was himself a member of EGN for quite some time), Nick Jonsson have just acquired the franchise rights for EGN in Singapore.
EGN is one of the largest global professional networks with 13,500 members including over 70 professions (also with a presence in Denmark, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong and so on).
The franchising model means that the member experience remains the same, as part of the EGN group in Denmark. Nick said that the only difference is that he and his partners have the franchise rights here for Singapore. It means higher risk but also a bigger opportunity in terms of the business. Prior to being employed, he was reporting to Denmark.
Nick’s partner, AJ is a Canadian and seemed to enjoy being a member of EGN. He is actually a consultant in customer centricity, so he is a strategist who also runs his company while working as a professor at Nanyang Business School. According to Nick, AJ’s strategic and customer-centric business approach is different from the Swede and his wife Dona who are running the operations.
To them, it is good to get someone on board with a different perspective when they are going to move forward, especially in this time of disruption [COVID-19 crisis] which is generating a lot of opportunities as well.
Dona Amelia’s role is Business Development Executive.
EGN Singapore has seen steady growth during the past few years according to Dona. They have added some more members inside the peer groups because they found that when there are more opinions and members around the table, they also have more opinions and energy as a result. While still maintaining the same business models and group as previously, they have decided to expand the groups a little.
Nick stated that the outbreak of COVID-19 has forced EGN to cease physical meetings and instead switch to holding the network sessions virtually (using Zoom), something that had also been tried previously but without much success.
To them, the only hurdle to overcome is that something is now online. The trial session was pushed a few times within EGN and it now seemed to be working really well, Nick informs. The one positive change EGN has seen was that they found a new way to move to online during the lockdown since they noticed all business teams have done it.
According to the Swede, he was actually scared to make the transition but was positively surprised seeing the higher meeting attendance and engagement than before. This was due to members such as regional heads, VPs and above are travelling constantly. So it was difficult for them to attend meetings face to face. Online meetings have made it easier for all parties to hold video conferences.
Obviously, nobody can travel currently, and the business is not suffering too much, according to Nick.
While everyone can postpone trips for a few months, it would become a huge issue if the stringent measures are much longer. For example, Nick said for expats who are living away from home in another country might need to go and see their family. So, on a personal level, it will become really difficult in these months ahead unless international travel comes back on.
However, in terms of business, there are lots of things that were put on hold. In Singapore, the business community is expecting to at least see a plan for international travels by June 1st. According to Nick, if business continues to be put on hold, it will cause a lot of damages to the economy.
Meanwhile, everyone has been forced to move online and hold meetings virtually; such as business discussions and other internal communication. They cannot delay everything and wait for international travel to come back due to the uncertainty when it will happen, said Nick. But on a positive note, they are seeing the return of work that they used to travel for before. He stated that the internal sales meetings or kick-off for your sales team won’t necessarily be done in the future as you can do it online.
Nick added that internal meetings will continue online but if there are clients within the same country, it will be very difficult to replace the human interactions and some form of travel will need to come back on.
EGN is not the only networking organisation moving online, other networking organisations are following the trend. He stated that there are more webinars everywhere and perhaps, an overabundance of webinars for many people now. But to EGN, it is imperative to have engagement with their clients and ensure that it is done by having facilitators to run each session. An example he gave was that they opened each meeting with half-an-hour of networking and structured in different breakout groups of 5-6 members in each with a theme to discuss. They will then highlight what they discuss when they come back.
Nick claimed that the landscape of networking is changing right now and it will continue to change even when we have come out of the pandemic.
While EGN also hosts webinars, it is merely a temporary replacement for the regular cross-functional events held for all groups.
Covid-19 implications topics
As members, business leaders and other managers can get qualified, and confidential, advice and feedback on any concern, issue or on-going project. In their respective group, they can get objective input and knowhow from other executives (and also from invited experts) who can share experiences from similar situations. This often leads to problem-solving and finding a path forward.
Unsurprisingly, many sessions discussed recently have been about the impact from the global virus outbreak. Sessions such as “Leadership during a crisis” were held and “The future and rapid digitalisation in the supply chain sector” at the moment. Another one was about how one supports staff when working remotely.
But what about mental health? How does a leader check in with the team and show that you care and provide them with the resource they need if they suffer from psychological issues?
Relating to health, Nick himself has also held a keynote speech for the Nordic Chamber of Commerce Philippines as well as the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Singapore on the topic ‘Executive Loneliness’.
Many companies are now in crisis mode with all of their employees suffering and senior executives have to carry this heavyweight alone on their shoulders. However, Nick stressed that executives are not being looked after and that executive loneliness is now a more critical topic than ever.
As a leader himself, Nick states that leaders are under more pressure than they ever have been in their lives—to reduce costs for their organisation, and perhaps even terminate their staff—and that being the boss of a company does not mean they are completely unaffected by these challenges that are going on around them. He pointed out that some senior executives might be living far away from their family; some of them who now have the parents in one part of the world, and the children in another and without being able to meet physically. It is lonely to be on the top.
To combat this, the network organisation ends the keynote session on a high note by brainstorming together on how they can go through this period together and what they should do to motivate oneself.