Post-Election Report British Chamber of Commerce in China Election to the Executive Committee 2017-18

2017, July 7
Post-Election Report British Chamber of Commerce in China Election to the Executive Committee 2017-18 7th July 2017

–          The British Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 1 June 2017, which included the annual election of the Executive Committee of the Chamber for 2017-18.
–          As per the Bylaws of BCCC, the election was overseen by a Returning Officer holding a senior position at the British Embassy. The Chamber is grateful to Sarah Goodwin, Chief Operating Officer of the Department for International Trade for fulfilling this role.

–          Each British Chamber Corporate Member (not including individual members) has the right to stand for election, and also the right to cast a vote in the election.
–          On the principle of “one company one vote” only the “Nominated Person” for each company (usually the most senior representative who engages with BCCC) may vote or stand unless they expressly transfer this right to another colleague, who then becomes that company’s “Nominated Person”.
–          In accordance with the BCCC’s 2009 agreement with the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) which provided for reciprocal membership between the two organisations, members of CBBC (companies who pay membership dues to CBBC in the UK) have the same rights to stand for election and to vote in the BCCC election.

–          There are were a total of 24 candidates for election to the 10 positions on the executive committee:

  • For the position of Chair: 3 candidates
  • For the two positions of Vice-Chair: 3 candidates
  • For the position of Treasurer: 2 candidates
  • For the six At-Large positions: 16 candidates

–          The full list of candidates is below:

CandidateCompanyPosition Contested
Gaston CheeLC VentureChair
Peter HoggBeijing Asian Healthcare ConsultingChair
Nicholas HoltKnight FrankChair
Ken LeeLee & Lee AssociatesTreasurer
William SpiersSpearheadTreasurer
Jim JamesEastWest PRVice Chair
Julian MacCormacRolls RoyceVice Chair
Qu MinCambridge AssessmentVice Chair
Masoud AfnanUnited Family HealthcareAt-Large
Joseph DuIETAt-Large
Mark HarrisonAtkinsAt-Large
Simon HerbertDulwich CollegeAt-Large
Henry JiDLA PiperAt-Large
Rohan KaraHarrow SchoolAt-Large
St John MooreBrunswickAt-Large
Rachel MorarjeeEconomist GroupAt-Large
Stuart RankinSt James PlaceAt-Large
Daisy ShenKPMGAt-Large
Jonah ShiStandard CharteredAt-Large
Ben VickerySavillsAt-Large
Alistair Warwick NelsonEuropean Etiquette AcademyAt-Large
Simon WebbOgilvyAt-Large
Ira ZakaCheung Kong Graduate School of BusinessAt-Large
Cindi ZhangBritish AirwaysAt-Large

Voting Methods:
–          The BCCC Bylaws describe a process for on-site voting at the AGM; no explicit mention is of either remote voting or proxy voting. However neither are these ruled out and there has previously been a method for allowing proxy voting.
–          In order to encourage a high participation rate in the election, and in the light of relatively low AGM attendance in recent years and the inevitable inconvenience of any chosen date to some members, the Managing Director and Executive Committee agreed at the April Excco meeting that a system of remote email voting should be used in 2017.
–          A system was set whereby voters emailed a dedicated election address to receive  instructions on how to vote, with an autoreply set including tables to cast votes for candidates for each position on the committee, and a link to the candidate profiles online. Voters also submitted their personal and company details to allow checking of their membership status and the validity of their vote.
–          There were 46 valid email votes received from member companies. 5 email votes were received that were not from member companies and were therefore not counted.
–          Of the 46 valid email votes received, the majority were in the set format, but 16 expressed a preference for only one candidate for chair. Voters who submitted such a vote were encouraged to resubmit in the set format with votes for all positions, but if such resubmissions were not received the original vote for the single candidate was counted.
–          Based on contact details supplied 20 of the 46 email votes were received from UK-based members; 26 were from China-based members, including 23 from Beijing and 3 from other parts of the country.
–          An oversight in this system was that a deadline for email voting was not publicised to members in the member mailing containing instructions on how to vote. On submitting an application for email voting candidates received the autoreply above which mentioned a deadline of 3pm on the day prior to the AGM for receipt of votes (exactly 24 hours before the AGM). However the mailshots to the membership had not mentioned this deadline, and in the minutes ahead of 3pm new applications for email voting were still being received.
–          In the light of this the Managing Director and Returning Officer elected to extend the online voting period for as long as possible to allow as many members as possible to vote, and votes submitted until 10am on the morning of the AGM were counted. Candidates for election were made aware of this extension.
–          15 of the 46 email votes were received after the extension of the voting period; 4 from candidates who had initiated the process within the deadline, and 11 who submitted both their application to vote and their final vote within the deadline.
–          In future years a clear deadline for email voting will be set and publicised in all election communication.

–          95 votes were counted in the election; 46 valid email votes were received and 49 votes were cast in the room at the AGM.
–          11 of the 46 email votes were received following the extension of the voting period from 3pm on the day before the AGM to 10am on the day of the AGM. A further four voters sent their full vote after the extension, having initiated the voting process within the original deadline. Three email votes were invalid because the company was not a BCCC member.
–          BCCC & CBBC have a combined membership of c.850 corporate members who are eligible to vote in elections. Of these c.560 pay in the UK, c.200 in Beijing and c.90 in SW China. Around 400 of our members have a registered China address, and around 250 of these have a presence in Beijing.
–          This therefore represents a participation rate of around 29% from Beijing-based members (adding the 49 on-site votes with the 23 Beijing-based email votes), and a total participation rate from all eligible members of around 11%.
–          The participation in this year’s election was significantly higher than in the previous two years. This is true even without reference to the email votes, with a significant increase of c.25% in members attending and voting in person at the AGM. Furthermore, notwithstanding the issues raised above, the initiation of email voting certainly succeeded in increasing participation from those members unable to attend the AGM, and demonstrates the degree of interest in the leadership of the Chamber from the wider membership.
–          Furthermore it should be noted that the participation in terms of candidates standing for election was at the highest level seen in recent years, with every position contested. This also should be seen as a sign of strength for the Chamber

–          The following is the list of candidates elected to the Executive Committee:

Nicholas HoltKnight FrankChair
William SpiersSpearheadTreasurer
Jim JamesEastWest PRVice Chair
Qu MinCambridge AssessmentVice Chair
Mark HarrisonAtkinsAt-Large
Simon HerbertDulwich CollegeAt-Large
St John MooreBrunswickAt-Large
Rachel MorarjeeEconomist GroupAt-Large
Daisy ShenKPMGAt-Large
Simon WebbOgilvyAt-Large

Complaints & Enquiries
–  One complaint and one enquiry  were  received by the Returning Officer (Sarah Goodwin,   Chief Operating Officer for DIT at the British Embassy)
1.       One complaint was received the day prior to the AGM from a member in regard to a mass mailing sent by one of the candidates for Chair. His complaint was that the mailing was unsolicited, outside the candidate’s personal networks, explicitly requested votes, and could be viewed as a nuisance to members.

This complaint is not upheld, since the mailing did not break any rules of the Chamber either set out in the bylaws, or given to candidates. No view is taken on whether the points above are correct or not.

2.       One enquiry was received following the AGM by one of the candidates who questioned whether votes received by email were counted correctly, specifically those received outside the set format, and whether votes counted after the extension of the email voting period were counted correctly.

The candidate was contacted by the Returning Officer who gave an assurance that the correct procedures had been followed in all aspects of the vote counting.



Sarah Goodwin
Chief Operating Officer, Department for International Trade, British Embassy Beijing (Returning Officer for BCCC Executive Committee Election 2017-18)

Peter Williams
Managing Director, British Chamber of Commerce in China 30 June 2017

Want to become a member?