Gunilla Banér Remembered

13 June 2017

Beatrice Engström-Bondy

The Council of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK has lost a long-standing and cherished Member, as the news reached us that Gunilla Banér passed away on 28 April 2017.

Gunilla has been a Member of the Council for ten years and she was an extremely engaged and passionate supporter of the Chamber. During the 100th anniversary of the Chamber in 2006 she devoted her time and energy in helping to put together a fantastic seminar.

Gunilla moved to London in 2005 as Managing Partner of Kreab UK, the leading Swedish strategic communications consultancy firm. She spent most of her professional life with Kreab in various senior positions. She liked to talk about the time she ran Diagraf, a division within Kreab where she supplied Percy Barnevik with an endless amount of overhead transparencies. This is difficult to believe in today’s times of PowerPoint and digital design.

Gunilla was as much at ease with a headset in a large conference room, ordering technicians and moderators around, as she was in a board room with a CEO, handling a crisis communication issue.

Her strength was to make complex things sound simple, explaining very difficult issues with visuals and texts so that even the trickiest situation could be condensed in a few key messages. Before it became fashionable, she understood the power of “storytelling”. Corporates had to learn to tell their story to a wide audience and to different stakeholders. She also pleaded for positive messaging and had a profound sense of setting the stage, a talent for dramaturgy.

Gunilla was very focused and she never missed a detail. The quality of work had to be impeccable and I would argue that she trained several generations of clients and colleagues alike in being precise and at the same time creative.

She could think outside of the box, which sometimes annoyed some more traditional clients, but she had a flair for trends and she understood the need to change and adapt to new business models.

As a professional, she was well known both in Sweden and outside the country’s borders. Her clients were based in locations as far apart as Japan, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK. For many years, she worked for Investor AB, managing and developing the most creative conferences. Her last important assignment was to produce Investor AB’s 100th anniversary conference in Stockholm in October 2016, which was outstanding.

During her time in London she developed an amazing network of friends and professional connections. She knew politicians, leading personalities within public affairs, academics and all kinds of interesting people. She shared her network generously, not least with the Chamber, helping to provide speakers for events.

Gunilla cherished her time in London and she had a passion for trying new restaurants, visiting museums and explore the city’s surroundings with her husband Svante. She was very amusing and had a wonderful sense of humour. She remained very close to Sweden, in particular to Gotland where she had a beautiful summer house. Originally from Helsingborg, Gunilla never lost her characteristic Skåne intonation.

Always an optimist, she took the news of her devastating illness in her stride and decided to fight it with the same determination and energy she showed through her whole life.

Once asked by a magazine what she got annoyed by, she replied “people who don’t go the extra mile. That is what our clients expect and deserve.”

Gunilla definitely went the extra mile. We will always miss her and send our deepest condolences to her husband Svante and her sons Gustaf and Carl.

Beatrice Bondy-Engström
Chairman of The Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Imperial College Healthcare Charity fund:
CA.RE -Fund number 5136-

Account name: The Trustees Imperial College
Healthcare Charity Account number: 21857024
Sort code: 60-16-10
IBAN: GB55 NWBK 6016 1021 8570 24

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