Post-event reports

  • 12 Jan 2015 22:20 | Anonymous

    Maureen is a volunteer with us for several years already. She decided to organize her OGT after participation to Action Café event, meant to bring ideas on how to increase the benefit from being a member of OWIT. And our proposal to all was - create your own event to share your passion or professional expertise and we will support you!

    Please read Maureen's article here.

  • 31 Mar 2014 22:18 | Deleted user
    On March 31st a very interesting, inspiring and enriching event was organised in Nyon. The theme of the evening was compassionate communication; the speaker was Emma Collins, a lady who has found the key to her existence in studying compassionate communication and in becoming a transitional coach.

    I clearly remember the day I read about the event on the website, it was about two months before the event took place and I immediately registered. I was curios and tempted by the topic. But I immediately asked myself the following questions: what is compassionate communication? What does it mean? How could it be useful in my day to day life? I don’t know what everyone expected from the evening, but I know for sure that we all were very exciting and curious.

    The event was organised in a place called True Colours; I think that the choice of the location was just perfect: a very pleasant location that could host an event during which the atmosphere between the attendees was inspiring, friendly and comfortable. Personally I felt right at home.

    We were about 20 people, including the speaker. She really impressed me because of her positive energy, she was not exaggerating, she did not speak loudly, she did not pretend to be the best; she simply was there amongst us and shared her expectations regarding the evening and some private details about herself. She cared about the group and she smiled all the time with her eyes. From the very beginning the evening felt positive.

    The event was interactive; we did some exercises to increase our self awareness. I would like to share one particular exercise with you: Emma put out some examples of possible emotions and gave us some situations (for example: how would you feel if you, in your work group, would be the only one not enjoying the project you’re following?).  Our task was to show how we would feel and it was impressive to realise how everyone could have very different feelings: from happiness to worry; from curiosity to anxiety.

    But going back to the question I asked at the beginning; What is Compassionate Communication? It is about knowing and understanding ourselves and the reasons behind our emotions, in order to better understand others and the world around us. Compassionate Communication is about empathy: knowing yourself, understanding why you experience certain emotions and then, listening to others, understanding the inner reasons of their behaviours, even of the behaviours that just drive you crazy; listen, accept, do not try to teach others how to live, do not judge, do not try to change people or manipulate them. Know yourself and accept yourself and your emotions.

    But Compassionate Communication is even more than this because it is not something that we simply experience in private; on the contrary, it is something that can… or… must  be applied to how humans communicate with each other; and even more than that: it is about peace and non-violence. Wow, isn’t this a wonderful way to interpret the human being and to relate to people? Isn’t it inspiring? How many times have you received tips that you were not ready to accept just because you wanted to be heard?  How many times have you tried to teach someone how to live his/her life? How many times have you been in situations where you just didn’t understand someone else’s point of you? Think about the world we live in: how many wars have been fought because of misunderstandings and inability to communicate and accept? How many fights between people exist in everyday life? How many times were you not able to decipher someone else’s behaviour?

    The answer is simple: many, many times. That is it: when it is difficult to place yourself in someone else’s shoes people can experience frustration, generate misunderstandings and close the doors to communication.

    Emma put the focus on a very important issue: every kind of behaviour, even the more unintelligible, is an attempt to meet a need. There are needs that are universal, people need to satisfy them, for example: the need for love, recognition, intimacy.

    If we understand that key point, we would be able to understand ourselves and to communicate with others in a more satisfactory way. Of course, it is not something that can happen from one day to the next: knowing ourselves is something that takes time and courage; accepting others is even more difficult. But if we can do that we could revolutionize our life and our relations with the world: not to change people but to understand them.

    I think that all the attendees went home with some food for thought…
  • 14 Mar 2014 08:15 | Deleted user
    According to academics Michael Porter and Mark R. Kramer, companies can create shared value. They can improve working conditions, reduce risk and support small enterprises, while also increasing their own productivity and expanding markets. Can women entrepreneurs in developing countries benefit from the ‘shared’ value created by these companies? This is the topic that we wanted to explore at the co-hosted ITC /OWIT Lake Geneva event, “Creating shared value: A role for women entrepreneurs in developing countries”.

    On March 4, 2013 the International Trade Center (ITC) and the Organization for Women in Trade, Geneva (OWIT) co-organized this meeting on the occasion of the International Women’s Day. Ms. Arancha González, Executive Directors of the ITC moderated the meeting. Ms. Janet Voûte, Nestle Vice President of Global Head of Public Affairs and Mr. Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) shared their ideas and experiences on the role of women in shared value initiatives. Ms. Nasya Dimitrova, Co- President of OWIT, closed the meeting with valuable remarks on the shared value promoted by our organization.

    Ms. González started by reinforcing the importance of businesses creating socio-economic value at the heart of their activities. However, when it comes to advancing women’s economic opportunities, signing the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles is, and should not be enough, she remarked. Ms. Voûte proceeded to expand on the meaning of shared value for Nestle, and to reflect on how this initiative can improve women’s situation on the ground. For Nestle, the principle of creating shared value is at the core of their business: it makes sense for Nestle to create shared value in the areas of nutrition, water and rural development. Promoting sustainable agriculture, for instance, allows Nestle to work with farmers, teach them to use new and better techniques, to improve the quality of their products, and ensure the sustainability of the supply chain.

    Did you know that Nestle’s SV efforts are committed to increasing women’s participation in the supply chain? The company leads initiatives that go from helping women to build coffee and cocoa businesses; to helping small growers create cooperatives; to buying directly from women dairy farmers. By doing this, Nestle empowers women, opens up their economic opportunities and, at the same time, strengthens a sustainable supply chain for its business.

    Mr. Van Ameringen’s intervention presented a distinct view on women’s current situation and companies’ capacity to create shared value. From GAIN’s perspective, the problems that women face, in relation to nutrition, are big and are not addressed by most corporate players. 120 million women and children are underweight; women own only 1% of the world’s land and have reduced access to extension services and financial support, making it harder for them to become productive farmers and growers. The concept of ‘shared value’ is interesting and helpful, but still remains a small part of most companies’ operations – due, perhaps, to the contradictions between profit-making and doing social good in the current capitalist model, he noted. Mr. Van Ameringen referred to 3 areas that will need to be addressed to improve nutrition and empower women: a) structural issues that inhibit women from owning land or accessing finance; b) regulatory frameworks to drive changes in companies, that go beyond incentives to doing social good; and, c) provision of support services at all levels, particularly when dealing with women.

    To finalize such a vibrant and informative discussion, Ms. Dimitrova referred to the shared value that our organization creates. OWIT provides a platform for women to develop professionally, share knowledge, expand their networks and exert leadership. “A society where women are active, is a healthy society”, she concluded.

    The controversial question of whether companies could accomplish social gains continued during the Q&A session. Some companies, like Nestle, say to live up to the commitments made to the communities where their factories operate. However, this is not the case for all companies. As Mr. Van Ameringen said, significant changes happen through pressure – from policies, governments, consumers and shareholders. Moreover, when it comes to empowering women entrepreneurs, the issue is even more complex: we need to break structural barriers, promote coherence in policies and provide women entrepreneurs with access to markets. On the bright side, companies like Nestle are actively engaging with women entrepreneurs; initiatives like GAIN are advocating for women’s improved nutrition; organizations like the ITC are working with governments to set policies that support women entrepreneurs; and others, like OWIT, are committed to the promotion of women leadership.

    The discussion panel ended with a delicious cocktail. People gathered to meet; to continue discussing the topics at hand; to enjoy themselves, and to add value to such an interesting evening.


    See the photos of the event here

  • 26 Feb 2014 18:30 | Deleted user
    Set in the magical salle Belle Epoque our 2014 Networking Happy Dinner has been an unforgettable event! Some of our members even got into the spirit of things and dressed up! Well done ladies!

    Our members were able to reconnect with members they had already met but also made new contacts through networking. The networking part was made fun through a networking game where we each had to find our celebrity partner. I was Mary Jane Watson in search of my Spiderman, Peter Parker, so yes I have to repeat it again: the networking was great fun!

    After a few words by our co-president Nasya Dimitrova welcoming our guests, our Guest of Honour and keynote speaker, Arancha González, introduced us to a few key projects of the ITC regarding small and medium sized enterprises that were female owned and gave us a recipe for growth: “Put yourself in the shoes of others and at the same time languages are important to be able to connect with others”.

    Throughout the evening our woman of the year, Meg Jones, was honoured and received a nice gift from OWIT. Thank you Meg for your inspiring leadership!

    And there was more fun during the evening as we auctioned off unwanted quality gifts for nominal amounts of which all proceeds went to Room to Read.

    So all that is left to say is congratulations and thank you to all for making this event very special! And for everyone that could not join us please keep an eye out for our future events on our website or by signing up for our newsletter. And our Annual Happy Dinner will of course be back next year so do not miss out and join us next time!

  • 09 Feb 2014 15:11 | Deleted user
    Upon reading this title some or many of you were probably wondering what this event was going to be about. Impact investing is about how to generate social impact and get financial returns.  And the sub title quickly clarified the scope of the evening:  “Ethical trade - The challenge: working women and their communities”.

    The evening started off by our moderator Andrea Delannoy who presented our panellists and in turn each of our panellists had prepared a few words to share their thoughts on the topic at hand which already promised a lot for the discussion to come, but first we watched “The unpaved silk road” a short documentary produced by OlaRe. OlaRe works with “small artisan and weaving communities, and actively searches for those who haven’t received external support”.  The organization “mediates between two worlds: (1) the demands and tastes of modern women in Europe and the US, and (2) the practices and culture of silk artisans in a developing Asian economy”*.

    OlaRe’s founder Zsuzsa  Hutton states: “we are no different  from the women in the movie;  women are the glue in communities  and societies. Women are the glue  that keep communities together and  investing in women is investing in  the future”. This was one of the main schools of thought of the evening. We all should be more conscious about the buying choices we make and also as Zsuzsa explained  we should “follow the chain and see into whose hands the money goes to” as many women do not get to reap the benefits of their hard labour and return on investment is low to non-existent.

    This point was emphasized by Meg Jones, our OWIT woman of the year,  who said: “look at who receives the money, trace the money back, raise awareness, it’s not about the product but about the people”.  And our third pannelist Arthur Wood remarked that “there is a big growth in youth populations and we need to empower societies with entrepreneurism, decrease government aid, and beware that how we consume drives companies”.  And that we need to “recognize that people need to own the process”.

    It shall be clear that the evening was much too short for such an interesting and fascinating discussion on this contemporary topic. And during the networking part after our panel discussion many conversations were still had on the this topic.

    This evening’s discussion has provided quite some food for thought, when was the last time you actively wondered where the money you spend goes to? Does it go into the hands of multinational corporations or actively finds its way back to that one female entrepreneur working hard to provide for her family while fighting to sustain a small family business? Most of us are all guilty of choosing price over quality and ethical trade, but in order to help change the livelihoods of many small communities all around the world you should keep in mind that the power is in your hands**.



  • 16 Dec 2013 08:47 | Anonymous

    The question of whether investing in real estate is a waste of time and money in Switzerland, was the theme of an event OWIT organized in early December.

    Assimina Walther, architect in Morges, with published research in the real estate field at EPFL, conveyed her expert knowledge in an informative and detailed presentation about the Swiss property market. In particular, she dealt with the question that many long-term ex-pat residents ask themselves: Is it worth buying in Switzerland or not, and if so, how do I go about it?


    Why is investing in real estate in Switzerland complicated?

    The 15 attendees left the event with a better understanding of what's involved in investing in Swiss real estate.

    Finding a place to buy is quite complicated, because there are more interested buyers than properties. Added to this, the growing population over the last 10 years has led to a dramatic increase in the cost of property.


    Useful tips for interested buyers

    The audience learned what to pay attention to, where and how to search for property and to remember that it is often possible to negotiate the price.

    While the answer to the theme of the event remained open, the key to answering it was given: it depends on you. If you are thinking of investing in real estate in Switzerland, ask yourself what do you really want or need? Talk to an expert, take time to do the calculations, research the market and once you have all the information, you will be able to make a decision.

    Final thoughts from expert Assimina Walther: never buy on impulse, do your homework first and above all, consider all possibilities.

  • 06 Nov 2013 16:46 | Deleted user
    On October 30th, a very interesting and inspiring event took place at the Alpha Palmiers Hotel in Lausanne. The theme of the event was Emotional Intelligence: how well do you know yourself and the people you work with? 

    The speaker was Les Morgan, a person that found his true vocation when he started his business helping people change their lives.

    Let’s start from the beginning: what exactly is Emotional Intelligence and why it is so important in our personal and professional development? Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate our own emotions and the ability to understand, interpret, and respond to the emotions of others. Usually we make a distinction between EQ and IQ. IQ refers to the ability to concentrate and plan, to organize materials, to assimilate and interpret facts.

    No man is an island: everybody, in everyday life, lives together with others, in the private sphere as well as in the professional one. The ability to understand our emotions, how they influence us and our actions and reactions, as well as the ability to understand others, is a powerful tool: IQ predicts on average 6% of success in a given job; EQ predicts between 27 and 45% (depending on the field).
    EQ is something that we can develop during our entire life, the very beginning is to look inside ourselves to accept who we are and to look outside ourselves and to accept who other people are.

    I can’t be exhaustive because the topic is complex but one thing is clear: the better we manage our emotions and understand others, the more we can have good quality of life, happiness and personal and professional satisfaction. The topic is so important and actual, considering the society where we live that asks us to be performing every day, that the event was a great success, full of attendees.

    The evening started as usual, with some time to network and to eat and drink something; then we moved into the heart of the evening, the conference started and the atmosphere was inspiring and positive!

    In my personal opinion, the speaker was brilliant: he had the ability to catch the audience’s attention and to keep it until the end by using different kinds of inputs: his words, music, interactive exercises and a movie. Les stands for active listening and a striking presence and spreads a lot of personal energy. He does not teach or tell, he is.

    Even if I believe that many attendees went home with something to think about, I still had the perception that others were expecting something more. As I wrote before, this topic is complex and huge, it touches us directly and personally because I think that the very purpose of life is finding a good balance between who we really are and the society around us. And it’s not always easy! A single evening on this topic can just introduce the subject: it’s up to everyone to understand if and how they want to continue working on it.

    I would like to end with a quotation:
    It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.
                                                                           Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    Martina Tassini
    MarCom Volunteer

  • 29 Oct 2013 18:40 | Deleted user
    A bit of history

    On 29 August 2013, a Get Together for Job Seekers was organized by several OWIT Lake Geneva members. The central question was “What can you do to make a positive impact on your job search?” Four topics, hosted by four guest speakers, formed the basis for discussion in groups: 

    • Knowing yourself
    • Targeting your market
    • How to network
    • DO's and DON'Ts of successful networking

    Just like all the other participants, I left the evening feeling very inspired and motivated to start creating my own profile and vision. At the same time, though, I realised how difficult it can be to go through such a process on your own. That is why I took the initiative to organise Follow Up Sessions for Job Seekers: by exchanging information and experience we learn from each other, we motivate, support and inspire each other.

    Follow Up Sessions for Job Seekers
    Twice a week we meet in Geneva. One is what we call a “homework” session, which means that we agree on a topic prior to the session so we can all prepare the homework. During the session, we discuss the process we went through and the obstacles we came across while doing the homework. As we all have different backgrounds and work objectives, this leads to interesting discussions and cross-over fertilisation!

    The other weekly session is more informal. The focus is on the exchange of experiences, knowledge, tips, upcoming events on networking or job hunting, etc. It can be quite invigorating to be talking to women who are going through the same process as you - most of us feel uplifted, revived and refreshed afterwards! 

    The group atmosphere is an open and genuine one. There are no experts; we are all keen to help each other and to learn from each other. Such an exchange can shed a different light on how you view yourself and your strengths, which you would not have been able to do on your own.
    On certain topics we call for help from external experts, using our group’s network; we are about to have expert advice on how to set up and use your LinkedIn profile in a professional and effective way.

    Practical information
    • Every Monday from 13.30 till approx 15.30 at the Migros restaurant at Balexert in Geneva: “homework” session.
    • Every Thursday from 10.30 till approx 12.00 at the Migros restaurant at Balexert in Geneva: “informal” session.

    The topics are announced on the OWIT Lake Geneva Forum. You will need your username and password to log in to the OWIT website.

    I usually send out an email asking to confirm your attendance the day before a session. This is in order to ensure a minimum participation of two persons the following day. There is no obligation to attend every session every time, the choice is totally yours. The sessions are open to women and men, OWIT members as well as non-OWIT members.

    If you would like me to add you to my group distribution list for these emails, then please let me know. And of course, please do contact me in case of any questions etc. via

    And last but not least, if you are interested in setting up something similar in the Lausanne region, then I am more than happy to help you!

    Saskia Howsam
  • 30 Sep 2013 12:32 | Anonymous

    We’ve read countless Reuters newspaper articles and followed its breaking news stories online and the television, but there’s much more to this company.

    On Thursday, OWIT member and Thomson Reuters employee Hulya Kurt, organized a truly great open doors event at the Thomson Reuters Geneva office.
    The networking and nibbles – a fabulous spread of delicious canapé and drinks – got the evening going in the building cafe/reception area, designed like the inside of a boat, taking its inspiration from Lake Geneva, which is only a hop, skip and a jump away!

    We then made our way to a conference room, where the presentations began. Hulya gave us an interesting overview of the company. The OWIT audience discovered that not only is Thomson Reuters the world’s most trusted news organization, it also serves professionals in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, intellectual property and science and media markets. 

    Fellow colleague and OWIT member Maria- Angeles Martin also spoke in more depth about financial services and her work colleague Valentina Gilardi gave us an excellent and very informative demonstration of their highly successful product EIKON – a professional platform for market analysis and trading software, enabling better market intelligence, collaboration and trading.

    With our brains boggling the scope of the trading world and this quite amazing technology, we made our way back to the reception for a little more networking and a quick tour of the site, which concluded our evening.

    Once again, many thanks to Thomson Reuters and the three presenters, and all OWIT volunteers who helped organize the evening.

  • 01 Sep 2013 09:26 | Deleted user

    „What a fantastic evening! 21 women determined to make the right move and find THE job of their dreams and 4 inspiring speakers. We could have spent the entire night speaking and sharing ideas and experience!“

    - A members for members initiative - 

    Our OWIT members expressed a need for guidance – other members with the according skills responded to it! 

    In times of a tight job market, you might feel alone and helpless – so what could be better to gather people for an inspiring exchange with experienced HR professionals and coaches? And with professionals who know all about successful networking as a daily business!

    YOU know best how to bloom! 
    So what can you do to make a positive impact on your job search? In four round table discussions, our passionate speakers replied to that question and took us through the following interrelated topics:

    Knowing yourself  ( ) - hosted Celine Beaurain
    Targeting your market - hosted by Derwyn Cafferkey
    How to network - hosted by Natacha Angélique Rault
    DO's and DON'Ts of successful networking - hosted by Andrea Delannoy

    And here is what our participants say:
    “An interesting and useful event that really exceeded my expectations! It was exactly the kind of motivation I needed to tackle my job search in a more efficient way and I look forward to applying what I have heard tonight.”
    “I was very interested in all four topics that were discussed this evening. Above all, the discussions inspired me to take my job hunting to the next level by further enhancement of my profile and my networking activities. It was good to share experiences and to hear that other women are struggling with the same challenges as I am. I hope the follow up sessions will give room for more support and inspiration for each other.”
    “My personal key learning of the evening is the importance of the “Knowing yourself” part – I am determined to invest more time in this field to pave the way for a more fulfilling professional future. How can you actually know where to go and successfully network without knowing yourself properly? Thank you for opening my eyes!”
    “OWIT Lake Geneva has most inspired and helped me grow since I came to Switzerland, 11 years ago. I have spent the most fabulous and intense moments volunteering for it, I’ve learnt tremendously! Last Thursday I spent yet again a fabulous moment, from a new angle – as a speaker - but with the same excitement and joy as ever! Thank you all for making OWIT LG the most open, fun and enriching organization around Lake Geneva.” (Andrea Delannoy - speaker)

    The overall aim of the evening was achieved: bringing people together, helping and motivating each other by exploiting our internal HR resources! A pleasure to see that this intense session of 3.5 hours was enriching and rewarding for both speakers and participants - thank you to everyone!

    Petra Kummer
    Marketing Communications volunteer


    Do you want to keep up the momentum and continue that fruitful exchange? 
    Check the members forum for a follow-up or propose and post your own Get together!


    The OWIT Get Together initiative is about connecting members by region and / or by interest. We encourage each member to organize her or his own Get Together: host a topical party in your home community, organize some local social or cultural gathering, propose to jointly attend a business or other kind of event. If assistance is needed, you can count on the full support of our Events, MarCom and Get Together teams!


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