Campus & Student Life
CBS International Business School, 9 April 2024

International Women’s Month at CBS – Inspiring Inclusion together!

International Women’s Month at CBS – Inspiring Inclusion together!

Cologne, March 2024 - On the occasion of the International Women's Day on March 8th, CBS International Business School launched a digital interview series featuring four inspiring women in business. As part of this International Women’s Month, students, staff, and other interested parties were able to engage in discussions on topics such as diversity, women in leadership positions, female entrepreneurship, and the gender quota for supervisory boards.

"The first time I heard the term 'Rabenmutter' was in Germany" - Mardia Niehaus

Mardia Niehaus, a native South African and Senior Vice President HR & Business Partner Technology & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom AG, kicked off the interview series in a conversation with Angela Müller, the Deputy Equal Opportunity Officer at CBS. Participants gained fascinating insights into the tech industry, often dubbed a “male domain”. Niehaus, recognized as the “South African Businesswoman of the Year”, described her exciting path into management at a major corporation.

As a mother of four, the issue of work-life balance is significant for her. Throughout her career, balancing work and family life has been crucial and achieved through the right mindset and network. Niehaus became particularly aware, especially in Germany, of how culturally ingrained perceptions of traditional gender roles still influence women's career decisions. It was there that she first encountered the term “Rabenmutter”. She encouraged female students to forge their own paths and dare to apply for positions in predominantly male-dominated fields. Curiosity, courage, and self-confidence are key to achieving diversity and increasing female representation in leadership across all industries.

business picture Mardia Niehaus_1 (1)

"There are many paths to the top if one remains open to them" – Daniela Büchel

The second interviewee in this captivating series was Daniela Büchel. She oversees HR & Sustainability on the board of REWE Group. As a board member, she offered intriguing insights into her collaboration with political representatives, lobbyists, and NGOs. Her role includes embedding diversity into the corporate culture. According to Büchel, this is not achieved through a "top-down approach" but requires implementation across all core areas of the company, driven by individuals convinced that diversity is the key to successful collaboration. Her advice to students and employees: build and leverage networks, seek mentorship, stay curious, and above all, enjoy your work. Büchel's own career path at REWE Group encompassed diverse roles in areas like controlling and strategic development before transitioning to her current role. She encouraged listeners to build strong networks and engage actively in discussions with individuals who hold different views, especially on topics like women's advancement.

Portrait Daniela Büchel_Rewe

"The world is never waiting for you to do something innovative" – Dr. Juliane Kronen

Social entrepreneur Dr. Juliane Kronen provided intriguing insights into her entrepreneurial journey during her interview. In conversation with Stefanie Pies, start-up coach at CBS, she discussed the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs and the power of female networks. After over 16 years at Boston Consulting Group, Kronen co-founded innatura with a colleague. This social enterprise redistributes surplus goods from companies to charitable organizations. Participants were impressed by innatura's inspiring founding story: upon discovering that over 7 billion consumer goods in perfect condition are destroyed annually in Germany due to minor defects, Kronen recognized the need for action.

She advised aspiring female entrepreneurs to focus their business ideas on solving real problems. In her experience, women often fear failure more and therefore start businesses less frequently. Kronen and Pies agreed that only 17% of female entrepreneurs are far too few. Many women seek complete financial and family security before venturing into entrepreneurship. Funding was also an initial concern for Kronen's venture. There are few funding options for social start-ups, making private financing initially necessary. Today, this success has more than paid off: innatura successfully assisted during crises like Covid-19, the floods in the Ahrtal, and the Ukraine conflict. Dr. Kronen encouraged participants to build strong networks and "do what you love, what excites you. There is always a risk, but if you understand that risk, you can navigate it."


"Wherever we can generate an impact, we should do it" – Simone Kollmann-Göbel

The final session of International Women’s Month was led by Simone Kollmann-Göbel. She not only served as Senior Vice President at the STRÖER Group but also represented FidAR e.V. The "Women on Supervisory Boards" (“Frauen in den Aufsichtsrat e.V.”) association aims to raise awareness of the gender quota in supervisory boards and represent the issue in various areas.

Kollmann-Göbel illustrated the "gender gap" in this case to the audience with current figures on the distribution of female and male quotas in executive and supervisory boards. She encouraged the participants to discuss the purpose and acceptance of the women's quota for supervisory boards, which was adopted by the German Bundestag in 2016. It quickly became clear that women's individual attitudes towards the quota regulation change drastically over the course of their careers.

The Vice President of the STRÖER Group shared her own experiences on her career path and provided tips for dealing with individuals who do not acknowledge the problem of gender inequality in high positions. As a member of various networks, Kollmann-Göbel actively supports emerging leaders and encouraged students to seek both male and female role models and mentors. Female empowerment is one of her core issues, which she practices at networks like GenerationCEO, IWil, or FidAR: "At the beginning of your career, you often need someone to pull you up, and then eventually, you will pull others up yourself."

The CBS Diversity & Inclusion Team, with Equal Opportunity Officers Leah Krug and Angela Müller, extends heartfelt thanks to the four inspiring interview guests, as well as all supporters and participants. The International Women’s Month has demonstrated different approaches to promote diversity and has led to a productive exchange between women in business and students aspiring female leadership. Let’s #InspireInclusion together!



CBS International Business School

CBS International Business School is a state-recognised private university of applied sciences for business. We offer accredited Bachelor's, Master's and MBA degree programmes in German and English on a full-time or part-time basis. Throughout Germany, the university is represented at three locations in Cologne, Mainz, and Potsdam.

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