YOU - women and men, your families; corporate PARTNERS, and their partners; collaborative institutions, academic establishments; other networks, forums and supporters of gender balanced leadership. Our COMMUNITY courageously speaks up and proudly puts our values into practice in their own organisations.
We are a social catalyst focused on positive change via sharing KNOWLEDGE, BEST PRACTICES, and TOOLS through networking, learning events, webinars and mentoring programs.
The Journey of 10 Years started with an Idea
PWN Copenhagen had its start in the heart of co-founder Toni Heisterberg-Andersen, a native of New Zealand who made Denmark her home over two decades ago. What stands now as a beacon of personal and professional development for women from 19 nations including Denmark, was in 2005 a simple idea. Along with her colleague Suzanne O’Reilly, they pondered on the idea of providing a platform for women to learn the art of networking and help each other to advance in the workplace and life.
That first year, 2005-2006, a number of big local events were held within pertinent themes such as female leadership, negotiations and presentation skills. Using a small committee of 3-8 persons, connections were made to find relevant speakers and fundamental guidelines for meaning platforms and themes. These activities soon evolved into the development of a multinational women’s network. However, the need to refine and focus agendas also grew and by 2006, European Professional Women’s Association (EPWN) approached PWA Copenhagen to become a chapter of the international organisation. The timing was thus perfect and the values of both organisations aligned. With this added support, EPWN Copenhagen had more to offer to the women they brought together as the new network available stretched across continental Europe. 2007 marked the first full year under the EPWN umbrella. It is this official joining of forces with EPWN that we now celebrate as we look back after 10 years of this mutually beneficial partnership.
EPWN to PWN Global - Partnership for Progress
“The federation has worked well in growing the agenda and making strides in expanding reach and purpose,” Toni-Heisterberg-Andersen.
Over the years, EPWN has grown to become a global force and the largest women’s network in the world. Today, there are more than 3,500 members in 24 city networks within and outside of Europe. The shared platform and agenda has also blossomed while building on the fundamental need to encourage personal and professional. There are landmark programs within the network, such as the Mentorship Program and Entrepreneurship Program that provide sustainable and practical support for members. The most novel agenda change lies, however, in the focus on Balanced Leadership as it has become clear that a sustainable future includes collaboration between professional women and men.
PWN Copenhagen from Strength to Strength
PWN Copenhagen has kept up the pace of growth while finding diverse ways of providing for the various needs of members. Speakers’ events continue to dominate the association’s calendar and major themes include Women and Finance, Balanced Leadership, Work Life Balance and all-round development. Over the past five years, the Mentorship Program, which pairs professionals for developmental over two 6-month periods, continues to produce positive feedback and results. A six-month Entrepreneurship Program, which provides relevant workshops and group support for entrepreneurs, has also received high marks and feedback. The latter program is also in its 5th year.
Over the years, as the professional climate changes so has the work of PWN. However, staying true to its initial goal of bringing women together in a safe space for networking and development is alive and well today. Copenhagen, with its multi-cultural ambience, has provided an interesting backdrop for the changing activities. The international makeup of the membership and the turnover from persons moving in and out of the city continues to provide a flow of new faces and stories.
In reflecting of the years past, Co-Founder and Past President Toni Heisterberg-Andersen admits that differentiating the work of the association continues to be a challenge, especially with the plethora of company-based and other networking opportunities available.
Despite that, she is most proud of keeping the association going within lean years when volunteers were hard to find, “the smallest board was three but we kept things going and rejuvenated”. She is also proudly reflective of the quality of volunteers, including now President Pia Koch who she had the pleasure of working with.
Although numbers were never a main target, the association earlier this year broke the 100 barrier in membership. This was due to a combined team effort by the current administration led by President, Pia Koch. This mark was a long-held goal as Copenhagen’s international community is in transit with professionals moving in and leaving the city in waves.
With the growth in membership, has also come a rise in volunteerism and with a full-board of committed directors, the association is strategically mapping the way for the future.
From the human interest perspective, Mrs. Heisterberg-Andersen advises that PWN should always promote networking as “a reciprocated relationship: if you don’t give and only take then it is not true networking”. In her mind, the association is only as good as what we give to each other. She also expressed hope that the volunteerism will continue to grow from strength to strength as PWN is built on service.
Certainly, with the pillars of Balanced Leadership, Mentorship and Entrepreneurship working within the fundamental service agenda of advancing the personal and professional development of members, PWN Copenhagen is poised to continue serving the community and its members for many years to come.
written by Dayner Azzellino