The Chairman of the Year Award

Jon Sigurdsson, Minister of Industry and Commerce.


Honoured participants, lecturers, and dear guests

It is truly a great honour for me to be asked to present The Chairman of the Year 2006 Award.

And it is also interesting for me to come here and meet those who have participated in the Reputation Seminar at this time, here in Reykjavík.

In a modern entreprise we can define assets in many different ways. For instance, we can analyse the assets into two very broad categories: tangible assets and intangibles.

General interest has in recent years been growing as concerns the intangibles, and this is obviously also a part of the general development of the economy.

In the category of intangibles we count knowledge, personal experiences and relations, market connections, software of all types, so called intellectual property, patents, etc.

Of the intangible assets a modern entreprise may have, reputation, - that is of course, good reputation -, is one of the most important assets.

Let me start a short analysis of this intangible asset, reputation, by citing some of the aspects which are usually connected with the meaning and importance of quality.

One of the aspects of quality is that You fulfill expectations of the buyer, the consumer, of Your product.

If Your output meets these expectations in an orderly, steady, disciplined, manner over time, Your product will be regarded as having and representing quality.

And this means at the same time that You are building and confirming a reputation for meeting expectations, standing by Your word, that is for quality, which then is the same as saying that You have earned good reputation for quality.

And this reputation also, and obviously, has semantic connections to the notions of honesty.

It has been said by a very experienced leader of large corporations and business associations in the Nordic countries of Europe that what is needed as the most important and outstanding quality in a leader is, on the one hand, sound judgement and, on the other, honesty.

Here we are again directly confronted with the term reputation.

Iceland and some Icelandic entreprises and corporations have recently become the focus of attention from international bodies such as the international rating agencies.

The Icelandic commercial banks, and some other financial corporations, have been quite aggressive and, as a matter of fact, quite successful in their ventures abroad, which, in its turn, is something absolutely new for our country.

But it is not only the rating agencies which have focused their attention on Icelandic businesses.

Competitors abroad have had various things to say about the Icelandic entreprises which have ventured abroad, buying companies and competing aggressively on the market abroad.

Everywhere the Icelanders, of course, meet the press, with different stories, both positive and negative. Everywhere they meet the importance of grapewine, of gossip, of rumours, of the dissemination of information, misinformation and disiformation.

This is, of course, part of life in the modern marketplace.

And the Icelanders have found out, the easy way and also the hard way, that reputation is an asset which is fine and excellent to have and to possess, and which also is to be reckoned with in its absence.

People ask the question: Does good reputation pay?

Everywhere You will find that a good reputation for sound judgement and honesty cuts corners in business dealings as in all human encounters.

Problably, You can get quicker results sometimes by other means. But in such a situation, the word will go before You that You may have used tricks or abused position to attain Your goals.

I am not, definitely not, delivering a moral sermon here, as I am simply stating a common experience from the world of business and entreprises.

Good reputation pays - both indirectly and directly.

Let me again repeat that I am honoured to present the Chairman of the Year 2006 Award.

The text of the award document says that the aim of the award is, and I quote: "to encourage quality work, improve business ethics, and to highlight good examples of these".

Now I ask the representative of the Icelandic company, Tryggingamiðstöðin, limited company, Mr. Gunnlaugur Sævar Gunnlaugsson, Chairman of the Board of Directors, to come here to me and receive the Chairman of the Year 2006 Award.

The insurance company, Tryggingamiðstöðin, is one of the Icelandic companies in the financial sector which have been active both in domestic and foreign markets, in take-overs and with comprehensive growth strategies, and has accordingly grown quite substantively in recent years.

This success is due to hard work, but it is, of course, not least a result of responsible optimism on behalf of the leaders of the company, in this case by the Chairman of the Board who has led the way.

Finding the best chairman of the board is based on pre-set criteria and data from a market survey among CEOs and board members in companies.

The results show that Mr Gunnlaugsson has reached the highest score.

This he has done, amongst other things, by highlighting the values of the company, on which its ethical base is created. Then, the Board has set the ground rules and built the framework for strategic policy decisions which lead to successful acquisitions and successes in the operations of the company in general.

Gunnlaugur Sævar Gunnlaugsson

All of us wish and pray that this award may strengthen and exhort You and Your company to strive to maintain Your excellent reputation in the future, as up untill now.

I gratulate You on receiving this award.