Meet our Members

Our members are unique, each with their own story and plans for the future. Career paths vary from corporate to entrepreneurial, across all functions and all stages in life. What is common amongst our members is their willingness to be open, share and inspire others in the PWG network. This month learn more about two of our members, Claire Kowarsky and Eleftheria Raisi both who have successfully made the transition from their home country to life and work in Switzerland.  Real Women: Real Careers: Real Impact.

Next month we will have two more stories from our members. If you are a PWG member and would like to be featured here then please contact Jane Piper, PWG Marketing Manager on jane@pwg-zh.com.

Claire Kowarsky

Online Enforcement Specialist, BrandIT GmbH

In an interview with Claire she tells us how she has challenges in her career have helped her grow

PWG: Claire, tell us a little about your professional life at the moment?
I firstly studied marketing and then law, and now combine these areas working as online enforcement specialist for BrandIT GmbH in Zurich. I help my clients to monitor and defend their brands online. This is a very fast paced and interesting area of the law and I love being able to see the immediate results of my work.

PWG: And Claire outside of work – what do you do to keep up your energy?

I learnt some time ago to make exercise a priority – for me keeping fit is key to having enough energy for work and family life.

PWG: Has your career always gone according to plan? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you learnt from them?

The challenging times were the ones where I grew the most, so I’m actually grateful that it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. My top three challenges were:

  1. Language barriers – my first internship was in Dutch after I had only learn the language for 6 months. I practised and practised for my interview, so much that I convinced them that my Dutch was great. Then once I started it was tough to try to follow instructions when I didn’t have a clue what my boss was saying!
  2. Redundancy – I was 4,5 months pregnant in 2009 when the financial crisis hit and when my company “let go” of more than half of its staff, including me. I thought it would be impossible to find work with my growing belly, but as it turned out just a week later I was able to start a fantastic, well-paid freelance role, and discovered how much fun it is to work as a contractor.
  3. Starting over – having spent years building my reputation and network in Australia, it was a challenge to move to Switzerland in 2014 and start from scratch again.  Applying for jobs online was getting me nowhere, so I made the effort to join professional networking groups and meet people. This strategy worked because it was through the wonderful PWG that I found my current role.

PWG: If you were asked to give some advice to a young woman starting her career what would it be?

Be curious, find mentors who inspire you, work hard and have fun.

PWG: How do you hope to have an impact?

I try to be positive and energetic at work and loving and engaged at home, because attitude and behaviour can have big influence on those around me. Outside of my career goals, with young children family time is a priority right now but in the future I would like to volunteer again on projects related to social justice.

Eleftheria Raisi

Business Development Manager Worldwide Skincode AG

We asked Eleftheria (Elef) how she manages remain energetic in a busy professional and family life – read about some of Elef’s secrets from integrity and fairness at work to starting the day with yoga 

PWG: Elef, tell us a little about your professional life?

I had the chance to start my professional career in a very feminine world; that of the cosmetics and at the moment I work as a Worldwide Business Development Manager for a Swiss dermo – cosmetics brand.  I love the cosmetics world,  I personally enjoy very much the experience of using them and I take satisfaction from developing cosmetics brands in the different markets with diverse cultures; from supporting the image of the brands in each country and building strong relationships with stakeholders to securing the profitability of the companies while making women looking younger & more beautiful!

PWG: And outside of work – what do you do to keep up your energy?

Being a mom of 2 young daughters (7.5 & 6 years old) and a full time working woman, I take my energy from my daughters, laughing with them, playing with them, learning with them and getting inspired by them!  However, as sometimes I also need my own time and space, I try to follow a morning ritual: to wake up at 6:00 and practice 45 minutes of yoga when the house is still sleeping…

 

 

PWG: Elef has your career always gone according to plan? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you learnt from them?

Yes and No…It started better than planned or ever dreamed of with a great job in the cosmetics industry and continued like that until the time I had to take a big decision… to leave my country with my husband and our 2 daughters, due to the economic crisis our country was getting into, we are both coming from Greece.  That meant quitting a great job in a dream company.  At the same time, however, my childhood’s dream to come and live in Switzerland came true…. In life it’s always give and take and most of the times nothing goes as planned.  Life is so dynamic that everything changes from one moment to another, what we have to do is to be open minded and flexible to adjust to the new circumstances and move forward.

PWG: If you were asked to give some advice to a young woman starting her career what would it be?

“Whatever you do, do it with passion and do it right, otherwise don’t do it at all! Mistakes will happen, try to understand them, learn from them yet get over them fast and move on!  Also it’s very important to have fun in the work environment & to feel good with what you do”.  Finally,  I would also advise her to set a personal vision, a target, and to find ways to reach it and to never ever give up!

PWG: So Elef How do you hope to have an impact?

It doesn’t cost anything to be kind and smiley, to work with integrity and to be fair towards others.  I am quite demanding at my work but I always act with kindness and respect towards others.   Unfortunately, these values have been forgotten by many people in today’s workplace.  I practice them everyday with a touch of humour, hoping that I inspire others to behave the same way!

Here are the stories of our members from previous months. The first two stories are the background to our “PWG Poster Girls”, two of our members Geraldine and Ana who were featured in our Real Women: Real Careers: Real Impact campaign for 2016.

Geraldine Cusin

Managing Director, Nove IX GmbH

In an interview with Geraldine she tells us to follow our goals and how she wants to create her own small wonderland

geraldine-74-2PWG: So Geraldine you are pretty busy running your own company, what are you involved with at the moment?
Currently I’m building my company’s website, developing also a magazine-type interface. The purpose is to share knowledge but also a marketing tool. I’m learning about web-design and coding, which was one of the reasons I decided to become an entrepreneur: to be able to touch everything and not just a limited portion of the value-added process.

PWG: And outside of work – what gives you energy?
Sports and a strong support group. The more I take on challenges, the more I realize how more efficient and focused I am at work when I take care of myself first. Now sports are one of my key habits. And I don’t compromise about the people I have in my life. Dark clouds are out, I seek the company of positive, curious individuals from whom I can learn, who challenge me to be a better version of myself, regardless of how hard it can be sometimes !

PWG: Has your career always gone according to plan? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you learnt from them?
Heck no, on the contrary. As a young professional, I always thought “work hard, be kind” was the way to be successful and recognized. Yet years went by, along with redundancies, denied promotions and I realized what my first boss told me as a 20 yr-old “This is not Wonderland”. I took a serious look at myself, my values, my dreams and designed a career plan. The great thing that happened next was I realized there were different paths to reach my ultimate career goal and I was in charge of making this happen. I took a deep breath, a leap of faith and embarked on the entrepreneurship journey. I set the professional environment that is right for me, so I can work hard, be kind and realize my dreams.

PWG: If you were asked to give some advice to a young woman starting her career what would it be?
1) Follow your guts. If it doesn’t feel right, it most probably isn’t. 2) Start early to network. Don’t be scared or shy to reach out to experienced professionals: we’ve been in your shoes. We do recognize and respect a bold move. 3) Take a moment today, to write down on a piece of paper what your dream job is, and I do mean dream job, forget reality or hurdles for a minute. Write a letter to yourself in ten years. Save the letter . Forget about it. You will be happy in a few years to find it when you’ll struggle with career decisions.

PWG: How do you hope to have an impact?
My mission resides in showing that business can be done with integrity. The last decades have seen the rise of cynical individuals, mass restructuring with no respect for human beings. As a finance professional, I do agree that value maximization is the core objective of any for-profit company. But I believe we maximize value by creating sustainable value for all stakeholders: employees, communities, the environment, shareholders, etc. Yes, I want to build a better place, a mild version of Wonderland.

Ana Paula Tediosi-Rocha

Market Access Manager (and PWG Event Manager)

Over coffee Ana Paula tells us about professional work, voluntary work and being a busy mother

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PWG: Ciao Ana Paula, tell us a little about your professional work
I’m currently working in a pharmaceutical company as a Market Access Manager. I develop strategies, collaboration and tools for different stakeholders, such as hospitals and health insurance, to provide access to treatment for patients. I graduated as a pharmacist from the University of Geneva. After a few years of working in retails pharmacy, I realised it was not for me and I joined the corporate world as soon as I could. I’ve been working in pharma companies for 6 years, I’ve moved in different positions and I enjoy working in a big company.

 

PWG: Where do you find your energy?
I’m a mom, a wife and have a busy job but most of all I’m a woman. So I like to have moment for myself and dedicate some of my free time to something with a purpose. That’s why joined PWG a couple of years ago and since 3 years I’m actively involved in the club as member of the PWG executive committee. The energy I always get out from the PWG events is amazing, it fills me with motivation and inspiration, which helps me not only in my private life but also in the professional one.

PWG: Would you say your career is going to plan?
I’m still at the beginning of my career, so it is difficult to say if it is going according to my plan. My main career objectives are to keep learning, developing myself and invest my energy in something with a good purpose. Working in the pharmaceutical industry is very gratifying because we help patients to get the treatment they need, so the purpose is easy to find. In all the roles I had so far, I learned a lot and have developed a bunch of new skills at every turn, so I think so far my career is going in the right direction.
The biggest challenge I’ve experienced so far is how to combine my career and my family. In Switzerland is not that easy to find a good equilibrium without feeling you are being judged. The number of full-time working women with a family is very small and we suffer from being judged and labelled as too ambitious. I don’t want to sacrifice one for the other, so I’m finding my own way to manage both and keep a good balance.

PWG: And Ana what advice would you give a young woman starting her career
I have two pieces of advice. The first one is to have a clear idea of your career objectives. It does not matter if you want to be the next Nobel Prize winner, an entrepreneur or in a corporate career. What is important is you know what do you want. My favourite quote is: If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable. – Seneca

My second piece of advice is about your personal life. It is crucial to have a good balance between your personal and work life. Make sure you have family, friends and other interests outside of work. Work is important but is not enough to make you happy.

PWG: Finally – how do you hope to make an impact?
I would like that my engagement at work and in PWG both have an impact. At work, because patient are waiting for treatment, so I hope that through my work they get faster access to their treatment. At PWG I hope that my engagement is helping women to improve their network, developed their skills and increase their motivation so that everyone joining PWG is going to be a successful professional woman.