STARTSummit and Fireside Chat with Anson Chan

The past two weeks have been eventful for WE SHAPE TECH. Among other events, we were represented at the STARTSummit, Switzerland’s largest startup conference, and hosted a breakfast fireside chat at Zurich’s exclusive Baur au Lac hotel with the honorable Ms. Anson Chan, former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong.

Arriving at the STARTSummit felt like entering a different world. A vibrant atmosphere with large crowds of curious, open-minded and mostly young participants awaited me – more than 1,500 guests were present at this year’s conference! A big thank you to the organizers who motivated so many people from all across the world to travel to St. Gallen. I was glad to see, too, that probably half of the participants were female and probably 20-30% of the speakers. Talking with the organizers of the summit, they made clear that their efforts to bring more women on stage doesn’t stop at a ratio of 20-30%. Maybe they can reach 40% of female speakers next year? Role models matter – hence bumping up the percentage of female speakers is crucial. 

I had lots of fun to sit in a panel discussion on “Women in Entrepreneurship” with Lu Li, CEO and founder of Blooming Founders in the UK, as well as Alexander Stoeckel, investor and partner at b-to-v. What holds women back to become entrepreneurs? In my opinion it’s predominantly stereotypes and expectations that limit people to reach their goals and to use their full potential. What can we do against it? That’s quite tough because changing your own stereotypes is like changing your own habits – let alone to change other’s stereotypes. Though networks like Blooming Founders and WE SHAPE TECH become increasingly important to break out of restrictive expectations and persisting stereotypes. We encourage women to step up and encourage each other to reach for higher goals, as well as seeing lots female role models that might inspire them. I also believe that we women need to stop being nice and polite, despite we were brought up this way. “Don’t be nice, be respected” received a few laughs and comments, thank you for reaching out to me! Let’s try telling people what they need to hear, and not what they want to hear.

WE SHAPE TECH and the Asia Speaker Series collaborated for the first time. On Wednesday last week, we teamed up to host a breakfast fireside chat with Ms. Anson Chan, former Chief Secretary of the British Colonial Government of Hong Kong and highly awarded official for her achievements in public services. One of the various honors was awarded by Queen Elizabeth II. Anson Chan advocated for staying humble, acting with integrity and respecting dignity of all people, no matter what seniority level or background they have. She also described how she lead her teams through building consensus, an aspect of her leadership style that appeared to be very important to her. 

Interestingly, three men joined the fireside chat as well – which is great and welcome, because we need both men and women at the table to increase diversity. Unfortunately, it looked like not all of them felt 100% comfortable being a minority group at the table. 

Anson Chan and me had a conversation on diversity, success stories, networking and her wish for women globally. I’d like to share this video recording with you. Enjoy watching it, comment and share. Thank you!

Do you have ideas for a next event? Would you like to give a workshop, lunch meet up or keynote on a topic you are passionate about which would benefit our community? We’d like to hear your voice and help you share your insights by providing you a platform for shared learning and shared passion for everything tech. Just email me at petra@weshape.tech. Thank you!

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