Post-event reports

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  • 04 May 2017 15:52 | Ekaterina Filippova (Administrator)

    OWIT Lake Geneva organized a Panel Discussion on the Future of Digital Trade on April 26. The event was free of charge for OWIT Lake Geneva members and our special guests. The 44 participants that attended the events benefited from the vivid discussion, and the debate.

    The high-level panel discussion highlighted the importance of e-commerce in the inclusive trade agenda and the leading role played by ITC and eBay.

    We are honoured to share with you a statement delivered by Her Excellency Ms. Rhoda M. Jackson, Ambassador of the Bahamas.


    Distinguished speakers included:

    • H.E. Mr Eloi Laourou, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Benin
    • H.E. Ms. Rhoda M. Jackson, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas
    • Mr Paul Batibonak, Trade and Development Specialist, Cameroon Permanent Mission
    • Mr Juan Hoyos, Adviser Sustainable and Inclusive Value Chains, International Trade Centre
    • Mr Fabian Staechelin, Business Development Manager, eBay


    Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook to view a livestream of the event!

    For more information on our panelists and their e-commerce initiatives visit:

    Special thanks to Girls in Tech for being our technology partner for the event and thanks to Florence Maghe for the amazing pictures.







  • 17 Jun 2016 16:23 | Anca Gosling (Administrator)


    OWIT Lake Geneva held its annual Gala Dinner on June 7 at Swissotel Metropol. The event was a real success with a group of 28 participants that benefited from the networking opportunity in a cordial summer meeting. 

    Our special guest, James Spencer guided us through a series of exercises demonstrating how the marriage of leadership and improv encourages creativity, team building, and brings along effective communication. 


  • 01 Jun 2016 16:31 | Anca Gosling (Administrator)

    Running remains the most popular endurance sport and for the last decades the number of women outnumber men.

    Individually a lot of us run for fun, for health, for an active lifestyle or for networking.  There are OWIT running stars among OWIT members. It was in 2016 that OWIT Lake Geneva tried out the first team running experience.

    La Genevoise is one of the Geneva Marathon: a two day sport event in favor of UNICEF. La Genevoise is a race exclusively for women, gathering ladies ladies of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds. This year, three OWIT members (Veronika, Nasya and Hulya) decided to support UNICEF and joined the team running the 6.5 km race through the beautiful landscapes of Geneva.

    "Being part of the team is amazing: you don’t own your result anymore, you share it and we absolutely loved it. We did not feel exhausted but empowered by the great spirit of La Genevoise. It’s a feeling of mutual encouragement and inspiration - the whole community of running ladies drives you to the finish line."

    OWIT Lake Geneva will certainly repeat the initiative next year, stay tuned for more details on the event. 


  • 11 May 2016 22:48 | Anonymous

    The text below has been kindly contributed by Natalie Mazhindu, Proposal Writer and Project Manager, who attended the networking meeting in Lausanne in April 2016.

     *****

    We’ve all been there. Hovering on the sidelines, clutching a glass of warm wine and silently willing ourselves to make a move - any move - just to get the proverbial ball rolling. We glance discreetly around the room hoping we appear as accomplished and fabulous as everyone else seems. We ask ourselves “Should I make eye contact?”, “Who can I approach?”, “Does everybody know each other?!”, and then ponder how best to introduce ourselves with confidence but not arrogance, assertiveness but not aggression, smiling but not manic…

    Perhaps you can gather from this introductory insight that networking events are a million miles away from my happy place. I’ve always struggled to feel comfortable in these situations and I suspect I am not alone. As women, it is often against what we know and how we’re educated to push ourselves forward, to raise ourselves up, and to make ourselves heard. Of course, this is not always the case – I speak only of my own experience. However, it is universally acknowledged that there is a significant imbalance with regards to the presence (or absence) of female role models in many professional industries, and this is something I hope to see change.

    I attended my first OWIT networking meeting in early 2015 but then, due to a number of setbacks - both real and imaginary - I did not find my way back until this spring. Luckily, as soon as I arrived I remembered what brought me back. Mira, our host for the evening, warmed us up with an entertaining icebreaker featuring a somewhat unconventional use of toilet paper! As we started the game I was unsure of the intended outcome but, as the activity progressed, we began to develop an understanding of the varied interests and experiences of the group. What began as a fairly quiet evening, soon evolved into lots of friendly chatter, which helped to initiate the deeper conversations we enjoyed for the remainder of the event.

    Though we may all attend these meetings for different reasons, when we find ourselves in the midst of like-minded people with a diverse range of experiences, it is at once interesting and inspiring. Mira brought us together and this room full of bright and educated professionals transformed into something inviting rather than uncomfortable.

    At times, we women can be our own worst enemy - often overly critical of ourselves and each other as society has taught us to be. This event was lively and dynamic and I hope it leads to further opportunities to go beyond the usual; where I can meet other supportive influences and engage in intelligent conversations within a positive environment.

     



  • 22 Jan 2016 12:56 | Anonymous

    John Steinbeck once said in an interview, “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”  The evening with Cristina Bianchi and Maureen Steele (Innovation Event, Part 2 on Nov 26, 2015)was very much about all of that. Well, all except for the rabbits.

    We’ve been wired to think of innovation as a sudden breakthrough, something which happens miraculously in the head of a single genius, or a disruptive idea brought to life by a bunch of smart engineers working in a lab. Cristina and Maureen invite us to take another perspective – to look at innovation as an incremental change – something new, useful, with added value, which each and every one of us can help create, be it a product, a process, a system in our organization, or the way we communicate… Cristina and Maureen help us understand how creativity draws on divergence and a collision of different ideas. You don’t need to be born an innovator, but you can become one. To get ideas, people need to switch to exploratory mode. So try these:

    ·         Observe and be curious.

    ·         Ask questions. Listen attentively.

    ·         Look for opportunities. Take risks, experiment.

    ·         Dare to be creative and do things differently.

    ·         Be willing to fail but learn from it.

    You’ve been tasked with coaching a creative team. You know that people working together have more and better ideas but how to get them to the harmonious spirit where 1 + 1 = 3? How to keep ideas coming? Cristina and Maureen offer us their Model for running a creative team session -a clear set of guidelines on how to behave with each other. Think of it as a bridge across the wild river of change. It takes you in a structured way from where you are to where you want to be. This bridge consists of 8 stepping stones

    1.      Agree operating guidelines and rules - decide how you’re going to interact.

    2.      Define the issue – make sure you all have the same understanding.

    3.      Decide what you want to achieve, including – and very important! – how the stakeholders will be affected so take into account their needs and interests.

    4.      Generate ideas by adopting divergent thinking. Typical questions to boost creativity are “What if…?”, “What else..?” Welcome ideas from everyone.

    5.      Filter generated ideas – consider which idea stands the most realistic chances of achieving, what would be the outcome and impact of each idea.

    6.      Assess feasibility of the best ideas – for example what are the resources needed, are they at hand or they need to be sourced externally, or what the financial implications might be.

    7.      Action planning. Remember: Innovation = idea generation + action. So plan the implementation and how to measure success.

    8.      Close the process and feed-back. Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the team.

    Sounds simple. In practice however the process of innovation in a team can be a lot more complicated.  How you as a coach can handle people in a situation of conflict, preserve the team’s innovative spirit and keep ideas coming in? Maureen and Cristina shared a handful of trouble-shooting techniques. Just two of the essentials:

    ·         Revert to the team’s ground rules. Look for win-win solutions.

    ·         Remember it is how you and the team deal with the problem that makes the difference and lead towards a positive outcome to everyone.

    Now you have a rough idea how to awake the creativity, how to structure the process of innovation and how to handle in case of conflict. Enjoy.

    Article contributed by Mira Lannutti, OWIT Lake Geneva Marcom team volunteer


  • 20 Jan 2016 13:04 | Anonymous

    When you think of Amnesty International, you may think of their work for political prisoners.  You would probably not make the link between Amnesty International and human rights within business. 50 years after Amnesty was set up to defend human rights they are dealing with questions like poverty, gender inequality, forced evictions and the responsibility of multinational companies for human rights

    On October 15 at OWIT event in Lausanne Stella Jegher, director of media and advocacy for Amnesty International Switzerland gave a fascinating insight into how multinational companies can help sustain human rights through the way they do business.

    Companies operating across borders can be involved in some severe abuses such as forced labor, child labor; forced evictions of communities from their lands and violence against trade union members.  Many states are failing to protect the human rights of their people – namely those of the poorest ones, amongst them women, indigenous people, rural and migrant communities who are at the greatest risk of exploitation.

    Often, nobody is held to account for this kind of abuse as it happens far from the company headquarters.  Amnesty calls this the accountability gap which canoccur for a number of reasons: such as a lack of specific legislation, the lack of capacity to prosecute and the dependence on the company as an investor.

    Stella highlighted to the group 3 main cases that Amnesty is working on

     1) The Bhopal case in 1984 where a toxic gas leak left more than 20,000 people dead and where 30 years later survivors and activists are still fighting for justice.

     2) The Shell Petroleum Development Company in the Niger delta, where huge oil spills have destroyed the livelihoods of fishermen, farmers, and families.

     3) The Trafigura case in Cote d’Ivoire where operations to clean a petroleum product coker naptha produced toxic waste that was dumped by a third party at 18 locations in and around Abidjan causing contamination and illness.  

     Amnesty is calling for four standards of conduct for multinationals: prevention, accountability, remedy and protecting rights beyond borders.

    Article contributed by Derwyn Cafferkey, Change Consultant and OWIT Lake Geneva Executive Vice President


  • 12 Jan 2015 22:20 | Nasya Dimitrova (Administrator)

    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 | Anonymous
    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 | Anonymous
    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 | Anonymous
    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!

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