Interview with EuroCham Board Member Julie Keo

1. What motivated you to join the Board of Directors at EuroCham?

Running for the election was a new challenge in my career. I had never done that before and wanted to challenge myself. As a French-Cambodian national, it made sense for me to participate in helping European businesses develop their activities in Cambodia. There are so many opportunities here that would benefit investors and the country. I also want to take the opportunity to be on the board to support projects, initiatives, and ideas related to the environment. I truly believe that today we all need to reduce our environmental impact and EuroCham is for those who have the same belief, a great platform to promote this agenda.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been living in Cambodia?

I am grateful to have lived and worked in Cambodia for seven years. I came here as an intern in 2013 but decided to settle in 2015. Even as a French-Cambodian, coming to Cambodia was a challenge. I did not expect to love living here. When I visited Cambodia with my parents (the first time was in 1995), we were always precautious about our security, so I never saw it as a place I could live. However, still curious to discover the country by myself, I decided to come back here for an internship and really enjoyed it to the point of deciding to settle there, to the great surprise of my family.

3. You have a diverse background that includes experience in legal services, business development, healthcare, and real estate. How have these experiences helped you prepare for your role on the Board of Directors?

Through these experiences, I had a chance to develop a legal and commercial mindset, and knowledge of two of the largest sectors (real estate and healthcare) represented at EuroCham. My legal experience enables me to provide legal advice and flag risks to help businesses make the right decisions here, while my commercial experience helps me identify opportunities. In addition to this experience, I built up my interpersonal skills which help me easily discuss and connect with the EuroCham team and its members.

4. What are some specific issues are you excited to address in your new role?

As mentioned during my speech at the AGM, one of my missions as a Member of the Board is to strive to improve the optics of EuroCham members regarding their environmental, social and governance initiatives. I’d also like to spread the message on EuroCham’s social media, hoping to launch, highlight and promote a range of socially and environmentally friendly endeavors. So as a first initiative, in November I visited the site of GAEA, the waste management company, to understand more about collection and glass recycling in Phnom Penh. I proposed to Pernod Ricard to go with me as we discussed a few weeks before, on their CSR program. This is what I want to do, be close to our members and help them to connect with others companies or members.

5. If you were to pitch Cambodia as a trade or investment destination to a European company, what would your sales pitch look like?

There are so many benefits to doing business in Cambodia. People are motivated, energetic, and entrepreneurial. The market is very open to foreign investment, with 100% foreign-owned investment permitted in almost every sector, a business-friendly government, a foreigner-friendly population, favorable investment incentives and tax regime, easy access to larger economies nearby including Thailand, Vietnam, and China and of course, world-class tourist sites including Angkor Wat (our pride!), as well as islands and beaches. The list is so long, I could definitely continue it!

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