On 17 April 2018, member companies from the American Chamber of Commerce and the BPCC met at a joint networking event at the Krakow Hotel Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre which brought together the most important companies from the south and south-east of Poland, from Katowice, through Kraków and Małopolska across to Rzeszów and Przemyśl. The leading theme was the labour market in Poland and challenges related to the rapidly changing realities of human resource management. These challenges apply to all industries and are very visible in Krakow, which is a cluster of modern shared service centres.
The guests were greeted by Paweł Siwecki, managing director of the BPCC, who presented Kazimierz Karasiński, the Honorary Consul of Great Britain in Krakow and Urszula Kwaśniewska, the BPCC's regional director for south-east Poland. Jacek Drabik, director of AmCham Krakow and Katowice, introduced Anna Charuba, manager at AmCham responsible for organising meetings in the region and Paweł Mazur, managing partner of law firm Wardyński & Partners' Krakow office, the exclusive sponsor and substantive partner of the event.
Magdalena Świtajska from Wardyński & Partners covered the five key issues that employers in Poland must avoid to avoid getting into trouble and to maintain competitiveness. The commentary on the presentation was made by Michael Dembinski, the BPCC's chief adviser, who discussed the market's challenges related to demography and its impact on shaping relationships between employers and employees.
A representative of the US General Consulate in Krakow, Katryn Porter, spoke about the current rules for granting US visas to Polish employees travelling to the US. She said that the reason that Poland was still not in the US Visa Waiver Program was the number of rejected visa applications, at nearly 6%, was over the 3% threshold required by the programme. She suggested a solution - to increase the number of successful applications. Ms Porter said that companies whose employees travel to the US on business or as tourists should make group applications; the visas are valid for ten years, the likely number of rejections from Polish citizens supported by their employer is likely to be negligible. In this way, by encouraging many companies to make such applications, the overall number of rejections would fall below the 3% threshold and Poland would join the list of countries whose citizens no longer need visas to enter the US.
After the official part was over, the highly anticipated networking part took place, during which it was possible to exchange business cards and meet new people, at the same time offering appetisers referencing the American and British culinary traditions. Knight Frank made sure every guest could leave the meeting with a small gift. Jacek Drabik from AmCham confirmed that in his opinion, building relationships is the basis of business success, and that joint meetings of both chambers should enter permanently the region's calendar of business events.