Thursday, May 10, 2012

Networking Women

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to connect with professional women from an organization called BPW (International Federeation of Business and Professional Women) and get to know some of them in Berlin. It was interesting to hear about an organization that I didn´t know and is apparently very active internationally and within the UN. They have a local chapter for Berlin and Germany in general as well.

The event I attended together with two friends (and invited by another friend) was the networking in English evening and it started with us arriving and getting to know people spontaneously before sitting at the table. Once we found our seat we were introduced to the organization and got to know about the recent changes in the local board to then had a check-in round to meet women from the most diverse professions, from a lobbyist to a marketer, a career counselor and a coach.

Apart from the normal professional presentation we were invited to share what we had had for lunch the day before. This important piece of information showed us other aspects of the people attending the event: who were the organic freaks, the vegeterians, the ones that didn´t have time to have lunch at all and even the ones that took time or had time to cook...

Through dinner conversation flowed easily and we switched from English to German or even Spanish to find the words that best described what we wanted to say. We started talking about the mentoring program that they are planning to launch and it reminded me of several issues that I learnt while been the MET Program coordinator (Women, Enterprise and Technology, a mentoring program specially targetted for women doing an MBA at IE Business School and supported with a LiderA Grant from Comunidad de Madrid). The program was run from the diversity department of the business school and is still running although with different focus and purpose, more related to academic issues.

I had a few insights to share about mentoring in general and how 2008 was the moment to develop one of the first applications together with RIM (the company behind BlackBerry smartphone solutions) to manage the program from the smartphone and also mentees and mentors to connect and communicate with each other. Organizing the mentoring one-to-one takes a lot of time, so an application really helps to make it happen.

Another learning those days came from the EPWN in Madrid was their group mentoring, where not only the more experienced mentor organices, facilitates the group and also shares her experience, but also peer mentoring between the 2-3 or even 4 women with diverse profiles and perspectives in the group support each other on everyday basis.

We also discussed Women Empowerment Principles after dessert, and how active (or not) we were about them and the general feeling around that was that women in general don´t need to make inequality so explicit but work with confidence and support other ladies to be an example of leadership without gender being an issue. I remembered how importat it is for me to be a professional woman with everything this means, instead of trying to use men´s type of leadership, simply because its different, not good or bad. Just focus on blooming instead of the negative!

Nice to meet you Uta, Sabine Deschauer, Sandy Weiner and Jacqueline von Saldern among others! 

1 comment:

Sandy Weiner said...

What a wonderful opportunity to meet you, too! I hope all is well and look forward to the next chance we have!
with warmth,