Melbourne German Week: German Australian Business Women - who are they?

The idea of GABWA is to offer German Australian Women in Business professional and cross cultural supportInitiated by the Australian German Welfare Society the first Melbourne German Week will take place from March 13 to March 18. One of the two business events will be organised by the German Australian Business Women Association. Get to know the GABWA here!


Strong entrepreneurial spirit: female German migrants

According to the latest figures of the Australian Bureau of Statistics there were more than 2.17 million actively trading businesses in Australia in June 2016. That is an increase of 2.4 per cent from the year before, which was 17 GABWA11 05primarily driven by the growth in small businesses. One third of these businesses are operated by women with their numbers on the rise. Interestingly, 20 per cent of female business owners, respectively founders, are migrants, with Germany being one of the top ten countries these female entrepreneurs come from.

Many of them, as well as many German speaking women who work for Australian based businesses, companies and organisations, are part of the “German Australian Business Women Association” (GABWA), who will also participate in the inaugural Melbourne German Week from Tuesday, March 13 to Sunday, March 18. Founded in 2015 by German born Katrin Reichert, the idea behind GABWA is to provide a network for German speaking business women as a platform to exchange experiences and helpful information for German speaking women working in Australian Businesses and Industry.

Founded in 2015 by German born Katrin Reichert

German born Katrin Reichert founded the German Australian Business Women Organisation in 2015Why Katrin Reichert, who after joining the German Armed Forces worked as a paramedic on a search and rescue helicopter as well as a military police officer, has a university degree in Psychology and an MBA under her belt, thought an organisation like GABWA was necessary? “I arrived in Australia in 2013 on a Partner Visa. Like the majority of German migrants, I am well educated, brought two university degrees and 15 years of work experience in Germany with me,” Katrin explains.

However, when looking for employment, she quickly realised that she was missing two very important prerequisites which made it extremely difficult for her to find a job in Australia despite her skills, experience and expertise: Neither did Katrin have any Australian work experience, nor did she have an Australian network. In a country where up to 90 per cent of jobs are never advertised and people rely on referrals, having a network is in particular crucial and by far much more important than in countries like Germany or Austria. Being the power woman she is, Katrin did not waste any time and founded GABWA.

Encouraging women to build their very own professional network

“I wanted to connect with like-minded people, inspirational people, who had made it in Australia and would also be able to acknowledge and appreciate my past, my education and work experience outside of Australia,” the18 GABWA Prinz 39-year-old mother of a two months old baby girl continues. “Of course, there were many German-Australian networks, but no network for professional German speaking business women. I felt a professional network for German speaking women was necessary in our community to encourage women to connect with each other to build their own professional relationships. Sometimes it is simply easier to talk from woman to woman about experiences and ask for and give advice.” Hence, the idea of GABWA was born.

Today, GABWA has 530 female members Australia wide. The association is a powerful women’s network out of which many successful stories emerged. GABWA members use the platform to find new qualified employees or recommend members for jobs in the companies they work for.  Many German and Australian companies and subsidiaries for example appreciate the perfect cultural fit to their company and the sophisticated intercultural competence of female German- or Austrian- or Swiss-German-Australian employees.

Cross-cultural advice: Support for German speaking women in business

German Australian Business Women talking at one of their networking eventsApart from that, GABWA members regularly support each other with career and cross-cultural advice. They also assist each other in all life situations either in person or within GABWA’s LinkedIn group. Most German speaking Australian business women feel connected to each other because most of their issues are very common within the German speaking women’s community. Australian German speaking women enjoy cultivating their German ties, which they may have acquired while living and working in a German speaking country or due to relative living or being born there.

As Australian member Astrid Hoffmann says: “For me GABWA is the ideal forum for exchanging ideas on the issues facing German business and business people in Australia. As a cross cultural specialist, I am always keen to understand and promote the diversity of thought that this group brings to me and its members. As someone who has personally spent nearly two decades living and working in German it also means that the wealth of experience I gained there is utilised not lost.”

GABWA ambassadors in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland

Besides the LinkedIn group, GABWA frequently offers networking events where women can expand their professional network. These networking events are organised by GABWA ambassadors in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Chapters in Western Australia, Canberra and the Northern Territory are planned for the future. More information on the GABWA Website.

Words: Claudia Loeber-Raab and Katrin Reichert,