Open roundtable and networking for German Diversity Day

We are diversity! How does diversity unite us? We are all traveling on our own diversity journey!

To celebrate the 9th diversity Day #DDT21 we offered an open round table & networking for our net4tec community. Some of our very own role models, ambassadors, and members shared their inspiring life stories that resonated with each and every one of us in a lot of ways.

Between the speeches, we got to know each other in a more intimate setting via breakout sessions and discussed our different views on diversity with the community. #Community #RoundTable

The virtual space filled quickly with many like-minded people from all corners of the world, like Ukraine, Lebanon, the former Soviet Union, India, Spain, Germany, and so on. Our Moderator Sara Rapsch welcomed all the participants in a bonfire atmosphere and guided us through the entire discussion with great energy and passion. Before we jumped into the first round of stories Begonia Vazquez Merayo the founder of net4tec opened the round with her own special story. #Diversity #International

Our speakers were Mariya Davydenko, Pavlo Stroblja, Nimmy Nemlin, Rana Estephane, Dr. Alexander Steinbrecher and Prof. Dr. Eleonore Soei-Winkels, all of them giving their takes on diversity and their life stories.

The breakout sessions allowed us to reflect on chances to foster diversity in our everyday life. All participants were able to engage in a safe space with each other and share their diversity stories as well. #OwnYourStory #Reflection

It was great to find so much wisdom and energy throughout this unique evening and a great quote from a speaker – “Diversity means to learn and become a better version of yourself by embracing different perspectives”. Here are some aspects and pieces of this great experience as well as learnings. #Learning

What brings us together

What each of us can do tomorrow

Future considerations

All the stories during the round table have been so compelling and inspiring. To tell these in detail, however, would go beyond the scope of the article. Nonetheless, those who could not be there have a glimpse into the lives of our moderator and the speakers.

Sara Rapsch – Career Programs & Talent development Lead EU Business School | net4tec Community Champion
She came to Germany from Spain at the age of 7, barely knew the language, and experienced exclusion immediately. Often, she felt that she had to adapt instead of being able to live her whole being.

Begonia Vazquez Merayo – Managing Director WhyConsult _ Power of Diversity | Founder net4tec
Diversity means identity. Born in Spain, she spent many years there before she studied in France and started an international career. During her professional life, she had the opportunity to live in different countries and continents leading truly diverse teams. Diversity is like water for the fish for her. Reflecting on many situations in her life like having children, being a working mom, and leaving the industry brought her to her mission “Unlock the power of diversity”. That is why net4tec is here now and generates options that make careers.

Mariya Davydenko – Business Development Director Ciklum
Mariya is from Ukraine, studied and lived in Germany and China, and speaks 6 languages. For a long time, she has worked as a female in a male-dominated world, especially in transformation and digitalization. Passionate about entrepreneurship she brings business ideas to life. It was interesting to hear how she once hired a team while focusing mainly on necessary skills instead of background or origin. It turned out to be the strongest team in the company thanks to members across different age groups and cultures. She always thinks about how we can achieve diversity in each and every company. Believing in equal opportunity, she is convinced that a balanced diversity contributes to the best performance.

Pavlo Stroblja Founder Queermentor gGmbH | Coach | Mentor | LGBTIQ | Empowerment
Come as you are – Being different is not a weakness, it is a strength. Pavlo gave some insight into his difficult upbringing in the former Soviet Union where he had some hurtful experiences. Later he moved to Germany to study where he finally felt empowered enough and secure to take a chance for his coming out. It was the best feeling not to hide his sexual orientation anymore. #LGBTIQ
Pavlo learned to speak up for himself and not be a people pleaser nor look for recognition from other people but himself. After developing personally and consciously reinventing himself he is now helping others who struggle with their background.  As the founder of a digital platform for mentors (Queermentor) he offers training as well as empowerment, gives people opportunities and matches them with mentors from different industries and cultures. People find others to talk to and learn to master that it is ok the way you are.

Nimmy Nemlin IT Product Owner at BMW Group
Step out of your comfort zone and do not be afraid of failure are Nimby’s takes on diversity. As a female, she always navigated in a man’s world. Coming from India, which is a truly diverse place already, she moved within the country to study and continued later in Germany. Learning about different cultures even in her own country helped her a lot. She recommends not to stay in your comfort zone too much in a homogeneous group but try to think out of the box, exchange ideas with different people and foster a holistic diversity approach. It is never too early i.e., with children nor too late to raise awareness of diversity. The more diverse your network is, the more you will be heard and seen.

Rana Estephane EMEA Modern Work Technical Delivery Manager Microsoft, Digital Transformation enabler | Team empowerment and career coaching | Advocate for Diversity & Inclusion
Rana introduced herself to the group in a completely new way by verbally describing that she was sitting in her home office and describing her clothes as well as her appearance in detail, in order to be inclusive for all areas of diversity. She is originally from Lebanon, and even as a teenager, diversity was evident in her DNA while playing and communicating with all sorts of friends whether Christians, Muslims, or Jews. Despite many obstacles, she fulfilled her dreams of studying at a private university and earning a System Engineering degree and even moved to Italy. Today she is promoting and celebrating diversity as a technical delivery manager at Microsoft. She believes in being yourself, learning more about others, understanding that everyone is unique and accepting differences. Her main commitment is on gender diversity followed by building experiences that are accessible to all while inclusion is complementary.

Dr. Alexander Steinbrecher Head of Group Legal Bombardier Transportation | Of Counsel | Board Member| Lecturer | Speaker |
As a lawyer, Alexander is passionate about legal topics. He picked up on the quote “Diversity is invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance” and shared a nice diversity experience involving dancing he had during his studies in Berlin. During his childhood, his parents taught him already that people are different and have beliefs and reasons for decisions and behaviors which do not necessarily correspond with his ideas. Even though one does not agree you should accept that people have different opinions. Fascinated about D&I he shared his thinking about how one becomes curious. He believes that these days schools are missing classes that teach children how to become curious, open-minded, and tolerant. Today he is focusing on gender diversity, empowering working moms, and using his voice to mentor others and promoting female colleagues.

Prof. Dr. Eleonore Soei-Winkels – SocialProfessor – Founder & CEO | Professor FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management
Eleonore shared an interesting diversity approach by looking just at the brain. When you are looking into the brain you do not see who they are. The brains just look the same. Why are people looking at the differences when the main instrument is the brain? The brain is changing constantly with every experience we are having. Neurons try to find new ways. If the brain can change then people are able to change as well. Sameness bores the brain. Expose it to something different and give the brain lots of stimulus like people or teams need to be on the rimes of their comfort zone. Eleonore shared many examples from her teaching experience as well as how she is learning from her students. She always tries to do new things because you will learn something from everything if you are ready to reflect. Different orientations – Different cultures – Being different is the superpower.


Our stories unite us all. Reach out to the individual speakers if you would like to know more or join net4tec and become a member of this community. You are welcome to attend one of our networking events and experience the great atmosphere yourself. Share your very own story next time because your stories made you who you are today.

Thank you for this inspiring and amazing evening!

Christine Koch net4tec
Munich Support