Students network on the WunderNova Women Summer and Think Festival
Eva-Marie Ellmauer, EBS Alumna (Graduation 1986), mentor in the Fellowship Program and Managing Director of Alfred Sternagel Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH Bad Homburg, initiated the scholarship.
Mrs. Ellmauer, how did the idea develop/ what was the motivation behind your decision to award this scholarship and why did you choose the Wundernova Thinkfest?
Eva-Marie Ellmauer: I have been a mentor at EBS University for many years and have noticed that, in addition to my specialist knowledge, networking support is what helps mentees the most. At a meeting with the Wundernova network founder, Angela de Giacomo, she told me about the idea of connecting interesting women and experts from different professional groups during a summer party. Since role models were very important to me at the beginning of my career, I wanted to give two EBS students the opportunity to exchange ideas with women who had achieved outstanding results in their fields.
What makes it so important in your eyes to have role models, and what role does Wundernova Frauen Sommer and Thinkfest play in this?
Eva-Marie Ellmauer: If you’re looking for your own way, it’s important to have some guidance. Role models can be signposts to help you orient your career. Role models also give you the courage to try it yourself. I find this particularly important if you are not “born” into a career. At the Wundernova event, I was thrilled by the range of women present at the panel discussions and also in the audience. From diplomat, politician and heart surgeon to founders and a racing driver, many deeply impressive women were represented. A meeting of women with a role model function and the opportunity to talk directly to these women is a unique opportunity. After all, it is the personal connection that can turn a role model into a mentor, for example.
Why is it so important to support young women in networking? Are there differences in networking between women and men?
Eva-Marie Ellmauer: There are indeed differences between male and female communication, including networking. Men communicate more directly, like to establish a hierarchy and the cards are quickly placed on the table. In my experience, the conduct of conversations follows clear rules, the objective exchange is in the foreground. Gladly one reports on achievements and projects. Women communicate more subtly. We send non-verbal signals and expect these signals to be understood by the recipient. Orders of precedence are often secondary for women. Successes and functions are mutually recognized, but sympathy and a good wavelength also create trust and thus starting points for good networking. Exclusive networks and regular exchanges with like-minded people make young women in particular fit for the wild. After all, a career is a team sport.
As a successful businesswoman, what advice would you give the EBS students for setting up and maintaining an extensive network?
Eva-Marie Ellmauer: Networks can have different functions - I differentiate between social, professional and personal networks. Social networks (on the Internet) have the function of a telephone book. They don’t really enrich our lives, but are a calling card, allow us to make superficial contacts and, of course, help personnel consultants. Professional networks are indispensable since the most important exchange of knowledge takes place here in all industries. Access is usually relatively easy, maintenance and expansion are guarantors of success. Mentors are good helpers to select the right circles and to find access to them. Personal networks are characterized by the fact that you know the people who are in them and they have a real connection with each other. The EBS Alumni Association is a good example for me here; my friendships have certainly existed here for over 30 years. It’s easy to take care of, you meet regularly at events or pass on your know-how to the next generation as a mentor. I also like to encourage young, interested women to join the Wundernova network in order to exchange ideas about female career topics. Alumni organizations of companies also help with the orientation and support of their own career paths. In addition, I recommend not to ignore volunteer work. These networks are irreplaceable for the public spirit, important pillars of our society and often door openers. Finally, helping others without expecting anything in return is for me a credo according to which I maintain my networks. This has always worked well.
Thank you so much for the interview.
Just last year, EBS professors Elena Greguletz, Marjo-Riitta Diehl and Karin Kreutzer published the research article “Why women build less effective networks than men: The role of structural exclusion and personal hesitation”. The paper provides new insights into the debate about women and their leadership development with a special focus on networking.