Spotlight on Women Leaders at K.I.T. Group
On Sunday 8 March, we celebrate International Women’s Day in support of the social, economic, political and cultural accomplishments of women throughout history and around the world. We are proud to say that 76% of our company and 50% of our branch managers are women.
Briefly tell me when and how you began working at K.I.T. Group?
Anouk: I started working at K.I.T. Group Singapore branch in 2018 to help with business development and with the International Congress of Nurses which took place in June 2019. That year we welcomed close to 6,000 international participants to Singapore. I am now based in Switzerland and work with European and International Societies both on the organisation of their congress and on the management of their society.
Chunjing: I remember my first day vividly! On my first day, Jocelyne Mülli invited me to take part in the 2014 Company Kick-off: I do not know a better way to get to know my future colleagues! I then started to learn all the ropes under the very impressive management of Katrin Seidler in the Industry Liaison Division, supporting challenging international projects such as AFRAVIH, EAACI, EACS, NeuroFrance or ICOM before I took the lead of our new Chinese branch in Beijing in 2017.
Delphine: Twenty years ago I saw a job advert in the Berliner Morgenpost and thought to myself “that is exactly for me!”. To this day, I still believe it was the right choice after 20 years starting as a project coordinator to now managing director of K.I.T. Group France starting as a project coordinator to now managing director of K.I.T. Group France, successfully for almost five years. Each day faces new challenges and my work has taken me around the globe!
What does International Women’s Day mean to you and the role you play as a leader at K.I.T. Group?
Anouk: It is important to have an International Women’s Day to help bring a very much needed gender balance after centuries of unjustified inequality, to create awareness and to create a momentum to eliminate sexism. This day represents one additional step towards recognition, dialogue, inclusion and fairness. But ideally, there should be no need for an International Women’s Day… Equal rights, equal wage and equal value between women and men should be a given.
Chunjing: It is not a day that we need, it is half a year! To tell you the truth, I am not too interested in symbolic actions, what I crave for is factual change. It should not be one day to praise women, then back to business as usual… On the positive side, I am just glad that the world is beginning to evolve. As an INtrapreneur (a.k.a. an entrepreneur inside the company I work for), I try to lead by example and I take pride in empowering the women in my team, in coaching them, in giving them important keys they need to have in order open all the doors in this world and get the recognition (and salary) they deserve. Women are modern-day heroes!
Delphine: Although I do not celebrate many of the holidays created in the last decade, I do believe that International Women’s Day is a step towards creating a mindset around a gender-equal world. K.I.T. Group has always been a precursor in that matter with several women being part of the leadership team. I do feel that the mix of men and women working together on an equal basis is the right modus and I have the opportunity to experience it with colleagues and clients every day.
What are your hopes for the advancement of women in relation to gender equality, the gender wage gap and other issues facing women and girls around the world?
Anouk: My hope is that we will overturn these unfounded inequalities as soon as possible, not only in developed countries but also in less fortunate settings. My hope is that young girls get inspired and have their potential uplifted by unlimited opportunities that are not restricted by gender-related thoughts. Why has our civilisation let this slowly slip out of our hands? How come we, as a society, have gradually and quietly agreed to have men dictate humanity and be the reference? What has justified that half the population is considered more powerful, smarter, better paid, stronger, is allowed a bigger space and a louder voice? It simply does not make sense, we can do much better than that as a society and we need to do it ASAP!
Chunjing: We want a world where people of every gender can pursue their dreams without bias or other barriers holding them back. Where girls grow up to be confident, resilient leaders. I am confident that this century is a women’s century. Women have slowly but surely emancipated themselves from their traditional role as child-bearers and home-carers. They are now taking their fair share of work and their social status is incrementally developing. It is going to take time but we will know we have achieved gender equality when women run half of our countries and half our companies… and men will run half of our homes!
Delphine: The level of access to gender equality varies around the world, from very encouraging in Scandinavian countries to frightening in other regions. I consider education as the best way to reduce the gap. Education to give confidence and ambition to girls and women. Education, especially towards men, to believe and trust in women as some of my best male mentors showed me. Those mentors had the right perspective and encouraged my belief that gender equality is achievable. There is still work to be done but we need to truly believe in it through our thoughts, words and actions!
Finally, who is your role model and how has she inspired you?
Anouk: My role model on this topic is without hesitation, Mrs Marlène Schiappa, the young and very feminine French Secretary of State in charge of the Secretariat of Equality between women and men. She combines a strong decision authority together with powerful actions and relentless advocacy to provide a safety net for women.
Chunjing: I look up to Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. She helps women achieve their ambitions and work to create an equal world in one of the most cutting-edge companies in the world. Read her book and Michelle Obama’s Becoming and you will know what being a true feminist leader in the 21st century means and why we are all better for it.
Delphine: To me, life is made of several relationships that inspire you in many ways. In my particular case, women and men have strengthened my vision of equality. I do not think I have a role model but if I am to think of a woman where I would say “chapeau” it would definitely be Angela Merkel. As a woman, she has served as German Chancellor for 15 years, she has been a strong advocate of Europe and peace and has shown great humanity in the migrants’ rescue crisis. She personifies a mix of power and emotional intelligence, and we need such women as leaders to open the gate to more gender equality.
K.I.T. Group is a proud supporter of International Women’s Day and will continue to encourage gender-equal initiatives within our organisation, with our clients and the events we manage. Thank you Anouk, Chunjing and Delphine for sharing your stories.