Gabriela Köhli, BPW Club Bern, in Helsinki 2023
I am Gabriela Köhli, 52 from Bern, Switzerland. I am an Economist and worked as a financial expert in several companies. My challenges: Networking, Self-Marketing, Customer Acquisition. So, I joined BPW in 2022.
Promise to myself: If I handle this challenge, I will live in a foreign city for a month every year! Inspiration was a book: a German journalist lived in 12 cities in one year. In 2023 I flew to Helsinki!
BPW Club Bern
Our Club has almost 200 members. It is open to professional women of all kinds. Companies & associations can also become members.
· Equal Pay Day: Action Day on respective date to inform the public about pay gap: We only stop when Equal Pay Day is 1st of January
· Mentoring: Tandems of Mentor & Mentee work together to learn
· Club Life: Main activity is the monthly club event(network, learn & get to know new members)
· Public Events: Organized for special occasions (2023 National elections)
· Twinning Ukraine: Partnership of 2 BPW Clubs since 2001. Support of Ukrainian businesswomen
Monthly club event
My BPW journey started with a club event. One of the working groups is responsible for welcoming interested women. This helps to connect fast and know different aspects of BPW. In general, 50–70 members attend.
Each time 2 new members hold their introductory lecture and “host” the event: They provide small items as “tickets” to sit at specific tables. This system supports a changing mix of women sitting together which facilitates mingling fast.
The evenings are inspiring. They show the diversity and allow discussions with more substance than “champagne sipping small talk”.
The working group “Events” does a fantastic job creating the program: Be it insights from a crime author, a vegan cheese producer or a specialist for sleep.
For me the combination of networking and learning is the attractiveness of BPW.
Activities to achieve gender equality in organizations and politics:
· Collaboration with companies
· Participation in a commission for equality issues
· Political Discussions
· Different formats: Network at Lunch, events for Youngs, dinner events etc.
I will give a lecture about salary negotiation in a lunch event soon. This excites me, financial independence is a favourite topic. However, it makes me a bit nervous.
I am in the working group for company members. The membership of companies is a favourable concept. The fee provides financial support. The companies can offer their female employees’ participation in a club event (2 free tickets per evening). Each company gets the one-time opportunity to introduce itself.
We are 3 people taking care of existing members and acquire new ones.
In March 2023 I was elected as board member for finance.
My best BPW experience: Being welcomed with open arms into a fantastic group of inspirational women.
We want to tighten the collaboration with company members to attract new women in executive and/or advisory functions or political institutions who are role models for different career paths and Young’s.
So far our age structure is balanced:
· 90% are from 25–65 (“normal” working age)
· 41% are between 25–49
· 49% are between 50–65
As we all age, staying attractive for young women is an ongoing topic. Presence on social media is crucial and media presence and awareness of BPW are goals.
Meeting with BPW Helsinki
Unforgettable the blind date I had with Riitta underneath the clock of Stockmann and dinner in Särkänlinna. Thank you for that. - A great memory is the visit to Susanna’s office and sharing experiences.
Helsinki – a wrap up
I bought a book called “Happy places in Helsinki” and followed the recommendations:
· Visit a sauna & jump into the sea
· Walk through the city, parks, along the coast
· Go to Oodi to work. I wish we had something comparable here.
I enjoyed the international flair and the cosiness of the city. I am inspired by the Finns who, place a blanket on the grass, meet with friends and have a great time.
My failure: My language teacher Pertti made his best, but learning even a little day-to-day Finnish was extremely difficult.
Putting up my workplace – even on Finnish design – has been a great experience. My expectations have been exceeded.
Thanks to all of you for spending time with me and giving me unique experiences of Finnish lifestyle. It has been a pleasure.