“In many ways, it might have been easier to continue influencing issues from where I have been doing it so far, namely, from business life. However, I was challenged by Juha Sipilä: ‘Why don’t you get involved in the action yourself?’ And because I want to practice what I preach, I decided to get to work.”
Anne Berner at the press briefing on Energy and Climate Strategy held at the Government Palace on 24 November 2016.
Coming from the business world, Anne-Catherine Berner ascended directly to a ministerial role in her first term as a Member of Parliament.
Born into a family of Swiss origin, Anne Berner grew up in Helsinki, dreaming of becoming a pathologist. However, she obtained a Master of Science degree in Economics and Business Administration from Hanken School of Economics instead and joined the family business in 1986. Three years later, at the age of 25, Berner became CEO of Vallila Interior, an interior design and textiles company established by her grandfather. Under her leadership, the company grew both in terms of net turnover and headcount. In 2012, she moved to a new role as Chair of its Board of Directors.
Berner has promoted the status of family businesses on the boards of both the Finnish Family Firms Association and European Family Businesses, the former of which she also chaired. Berner also became famous as a fundraiser for the New Children’s Hospital 2017 project. In 2013, she appeared in the Finnish version of Dragons’ Den on the commercial channel Nelonen as a ‘business angel’, who is wooed by budding entrepreneurs to invest in their business.
Berner became involved in politics in 2015, when she was elected to Parliament as an independent candidate from the Centre Party’s list. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä appointed her to his Government as Minister of Transport and Communications.
During her ministerial term, Berner has been very proactive. Key issues on the agenda have included opening passenger rail transport to competition, a transport network development package and a reform of driving licence requirements. Berner’s key objectives have also covered promoting digitalisation and reducing debt related to the basic transport infrastructure maintenance backlog.
In addition to her own family company, Berner has served on the Boards of Directors of numerous other enterprises and corporations, such as Veikkaus and Soprano Plc. She has also chaired the board of Libera think tank and the Executive Committee of the Association for Finnish Work (2013–2015).
Berner has dual citizenship of both Finland and Switzerland and she speaks Swiss German at home.
“In many ways, it might have been easier to continue influencing issues from where I have been doing it so far, namely, from business life. However, I was challenged by Juha Sipilä: ‘Why don’t you get involved in the action yourself?’ And because I want to practice what I preach, I decided to get to work.” (Anne Berner on her website at anneberner.fi).
Date and place of birth: 16.1.1964 Helsinki
- 29.5.2015 - 29.5.2019