Allow us to introduce you to the European Professional Women’s Network of Zug & Zurich, an organization that launched Summer 2012 and is growing at a fast pace. These ladies are hosting inspirational events for professional women – regardless of where they currently stand in their careers.
Zuri Girl spent some time with Muriel Bekto, President, and fellow members of her board to uncover who (and what) is driving this network of professional women to improve the lives of not only themselves, but the community of powerful women around them.
Zuri Girl: Congratulations on becoming the 20th network to join the EuropeanPWN! What is the inspiration behind EuropeanPWN and when it was founded?
Muriel Bekto: EuropeanPWN is a not-for-profit volunteer-run organization founded in Paris in 1996 with the mission to promote the professional progress of women through all their career phases, from potential through the pipeline. EuropeanPWN was inspired by Avivah Wittenberg Cox, Co-author of “Why women mean business”, a book dedicated to companies that are waking up to “womenomics”: the economic revolution created by women’s growing power and potential. Women today are a majority of the talent pool and make up 80% of consumer purchases. So why only 2% of the bosses of Fortune 500 companies are women?
Women leaders are critical for business and have leadership qualities that are becoming more important to organizations. Women are in a unique position today to make a step change in filling leadership roles.
EuropeanPWN helps to empower those women to take leadership and actively manage their careers and to lead positive and progressive change for and through organizations. Our networks power women by mentoring, training, networking and inspiring.
Zuri Girl: What events can we expect to see on your calendar in the coming months?
Muriel Bekto: We have many events on the calendar in the upcoming weeks. In September we launch the Workshops’ series “Hard facts on soft skills”. In October members and non-members can learn how to create a successful Elevator Pitch. All our workshops are hosted at Johnson & Johnson Campus in Zug. Johnson & Johnson is our Gold Sponsor. We also try to involve men in our activities. For example at our next keynote speaker event “International assignments: challenges and opportunities for expats and spouse” sponsored by Spouse Career Center we have one male speaker. We’ve arranged as well a wine tasting offered by Don Hidalgo and the event will be in the historical medieval tower of Zug – the Pulverturm. In September we will also kick off our mentoring program open to members only and sponsored by Siemens.
Zuri Girl: Does membership to the EWPN lead to more job opportunities for women who are looking for worK?
Muriel Bekto: EuropeanPWN provides a forum where women can develop professionally through mentoring and training. This can increase their value on the job market. At the same time women have the opportunity to show and advertise their skills through the EuropeanPWN virtual network of 3000+ members across Europe. They can get noticed by a member who is recruiting. Job opportunities are also published by members on EuropeanPWN online Message Board or shared during monthly networking events.
Another opportunity for women is choosing to make a new career step, attending a MBA and getting inspired by some of our speakers. By taking a volunteer role in our association members can also gain leadership skills and add a valuable experience to their CV.
Zuri Girl: Your Board is a powerful group of women, what about them inspires you on a regular basis?
Muriel Bekto: Yes this is a powerful group of working and experienced women who are very engaged to the EuropeanPWN vision and invest extra time to their busy life to contribute to women’s career progress in Switzerland. It is a very diverse group with eight different nationalities from France to China, Estonia to Switzerland, and expertise in various areas such as marketing, IT and law.
Zuri Girl: What are member benefits for women who join the EWPN of Zug & Zurich?
Muriel Bekto: EuropeanPWN members are part of a vibrant online community of 3000+ professional women in 20 cities across Europe. This gives them access to a state-of-the art online networking platform that offers discussion forums, professional resources and direct electronic communication with all European members. Members can benefit from our mentoring program as either mentor or mentee. They have access to a broad range of best practices through our professional development workshops such as the series “Hard facts on soft skills”. Our members can promote their skills and business through their online membership profile and create business or career opportunities by meeting women with different professional backgrounds at the various events we organize.
Zuri Girl: How does membership to a professional women’s group compliment membership to a social women’s club?
Muriel Bekto: A professional women’s group helps to acquire professional skills and build a professional network to create career and business opportunities for oneself. Business relationships that emerge from networking within EuropeanPWN can then be extended to social networking activities organized by other associations such as Internations or Zurich International Women’s Association.
Zuri Girl: What is your #1 piece of advice for women who move to the Zurich region and find it very difficult to even get out of bed in the morning?
Muriel Bekto: Google existing social and professional networks / clubs in your area, find the ones that fit your interests, attend their events and let yourself get inspired by the people you’ll meet. Opportunities will arise faster than you think.
Zuri Girl: How often do you plan to meet, and where are your meetings held?
Muriel Bekto: Members and non-members can meet every month at our networking events at City Garden Hotel in Zug. Every third Thursday of the month we organize a Networking Apero and every last Friday a networking lunch. We are looking forward to expanding our networking activities in Zurich and are actively looking for volunteers to support the expansion.
Zuri Girl: Please give us an idea of the women who are already members of the EWPN of Zug & Zurich.
Muriel Bekto: Our members come from various business sectors and medium to large companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, Actavis. Over half of them have more than 15 years of experience. They hold positions from Middle Manager to Top executive and some run their own business. All speak English and many have international experience. Our members represent 22 different nationalities with the high representation from Germany, France, UK and USA. The majority joined EuropeanPWN for networking, sharing experience and some to get guidance for their own career development.
Zuri Girl: Is there any additional information you would like to share with our ‘girlfriends’?
Muriel Bekto: Volunteering at EuropeanPWN is a rewarding experience for any woman, who wants to improve leadership, acquire new skills or promote herself or her business within a network of 20 European cities. If you are interested, please send us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject matter “VOLUNTEER” and indicate your areas of expertise.
Zuri Girl: Tell us about your next event?
Muriel Bekto: Our next EuropeanPWN Event is on 3 October at the Pulverturm in Zug. The topic will include “International assignments: challenges and opportunities for expats and spouse”. We will have three speakers and there will be time for networking with gourmet finger food and Spanish wine tasting. More information and RSVP here.