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On May 14 2018, the IMEX Group and tw tagungswirtschaft will launch the "She MeansBusiness" conference at the IMEX 2018. They just now released the program on flight into space and female leadership, on diversity and equal opportunities. Registration is open – for women and men alike.

ajor Nicola Baumann is a fighter pilot flying a Eurofighter for the German Air Force. She applied for the "Die Astronautin" program, because she wanted to be the first German female astronaut to fly into space in 2020. The fighter pilot came out first against 400 female competitors and together with the second finalist Insa Thiele-Eich took up training for the space flight to the international space station. Then, after six months, Baumann quit the program. She told SPIEGEL magazine: "The initiative and I simply didn't match up. But fortunately there are a number of commercial and government-sponsored alternatives, and as I did in fact qualify for the space program and did very well in the training program, I'm pretty optimistic that I will find just the right way for me to fly into space."

Just how determined Baumann is in pursuing her ambitious goal will be the underlying topic in her keynote at the "She Means Business" on 14 May 2018 at the Kap Europa of Messe Frankfurt. She will be seconded by Laura Winterling, who made it to the last 30 candidates in the contest program. The two will talk about their enthusiasm for human spaceflight and the selection process, about talented women and friendship. Christian Woronka, Director Cologne Convention Bureau, came up with the idea to invite the two women; he has been supporting the conference from the very beginning. "Cologne just loves and lives diversity, and I consider equal opportunity a top-priority issue. I admire Nicola Baumann and Laura Winterling, who have set themselves ambitious goals and who – in the truest sense of the word – want to fly high. They now have the rare opportunity to pursue their dream."

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Major Nicola Baumann is a fighter pilot flying a Eurofighter for the German Air Force.

He thus defines one of the motives of the organizing IMEX Group and tw tagungswirtschaft: The "She Means Business" wants to encourage, motivate and inspire women to make their (professional) dreams come true. Women do not yet have equal access to the same educational and career options as do men; this is very distinctly evidenced by the gender pay gap and appointment to senior management positions: the event industry is female - the executive floor is male. The program features lectures and panels, talks and round-tables centered on issues concerning female qualification and leadership, it has a look at other industries, presents successful work and life models as well as international trends and developments.

Speakers at the session "Women in Business" will have a look at the bigger picture of diversity and equal treatment of men and women. A McKinsey research shows that if women participated in the economy identically to men, it would add up to $28 trillion, or 26%, of annual global GDP in 2025. Karin Nordmeyer, President of The UN Women National Committee Germany,

will focus on 
how we can reach UN Women’s vision of a gender equal world
. She said: "I am speaking at the first 'She Means Business Conference', because we cannot build strong economies without the full participation and potential of women." She will be supported by Dr. Mara Harvey, Head Global UHNW Germany, Austria, Italy at UBS (see interview page 42), Susanne Labonde, Senior Director Global Employer Branding and HR Talent Acquisition for SAP and Isabel Bardinet, CEO European Society of Cardiology. In the session "Women in Events", Jeannine Koch will deliver her report on diversity at the re:publica digital conference and Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO Business Events Sydney, will speak on the Global Summit of Women 2018.

The industry panel will discuss diversity and women in the meetings industry with moderator Sherrif Karamat, CEO of PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) and Nina Freysen- Pretorius, President of ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association), South Africa, Karen Bollinger, Melbourne Convention & Visitors Bureau, Australia, and from Germany Sarah Sigloch, Vice President Human Resources of H-Hotels AG, and Edgar Hirt with CCH – Congress Centrum Hamburg. Hirt, for many years director of the CCH until he retired in 2017, points out: "The majority of trainees and students in our industry are women. As a consequence, it shouldn't be a problem to promote these women to senior positions." In any case, he's convinced that women are the better hosts. He didn't hesitate for a minute to enter into the partnership with "She Means Business" . "We're delighted to see that an ever-increasing number of women are breaking open traditional structures. In 2015, we received the Helga-Stödter-Award in appreciation of our efforts and implementation of the Mixed Leadership approach, and we've been intensively pursing this matter since then." As per March 1, Edgar Hirt hands over the reins to Heike Mahmoud, one of the most highprofile women in the meetings industry. "As a consequence, it came quite naturally for us to be part of the 'She Means Business' initiative." Other supporting partners are H-Hotels AG and the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau, with HORIZONT, m+a report and Biztravel as media partners.

The conference has its focus on learning with and from each other as well as the formation and cultivation of networks. Professional exchange with male colleagues, leadership personnel and staff members is explicitly requested and supported, the conference is very deliberately open to these. Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Group, explained: "We joined forces with tw tagungswirtschaft to call to life the international conference "She Means Business", because we believe that the exchange of stories and thoughts is a powerful lever for women to interact with each other and with men in order to strongly advocate diversity and equal treatment of all."  KERSTIN WÜNSCH

The participation is open to everyone and free of charge. Please register here:
“I am speaking at the first ‘She Means Business Conference’, because we all have the power to create a better future for ourselves and others – especially if we work together.”
Major Nicola Baumann
“I am speaking at the first ‘She Means Business conference’, because we cannot build strong economies without the full participation and potential of women.”
Karin Nordmeyer, President of UN Women National Committee Germany