The International Women in Business Düsseldorf e.V is a non-profit network that supports internationally-minded women from all backgrounds living in the Düsseldorf area.
Katy Kennedy, UK
I am originally from the UK and started the International Women in Business Network when I came to Dusseldorf with my husband and two sons in 2015. I wanted to experience working in a foreign country and discovered that other like-minded women were looking for support and a network to help make that happen!
I trained as a chemist and worked in laboratories for several years and I have previously run 24 hour large operational teams; been Head of Operations running 5 laboratories; Programme Managed large change projects and even been part of Emergency Incident Command Centres.
When I came to Germany, I needed to create a “career in a suitcase” and decided to use my love of talking to people about their aspirations, their life dreams and their career goals.
I became a certified, Executive Coach specialising in working with middle managers seeking advancement in their careers and SME Executives wanting some help with their businesses.
I play and coach rugby and even had trials for England when I was much much younger!!
Agnieszka Okoniewska, Poland
Since childhood, I have been talking about working with people, and traveling.
My first professional experience dates back to student times. Initially, it was just a job in telemarketing, nothing demanding.
In my first full-time job, I discovered the world of numbers. From 2001 to 2015 I worked in various areas of finance in Polish and international companies.
In 2016, my life changed and we moved to Dusseldorf. Not working, I engaged myself in many different activities: volunteering in school, being a part of the International Women in Business Düsseldorf Board team, learning German, and painting. I’ve met many interesting people, made friendships, traveled, and above all I’ve got closer to my two great daughters and my husband.
In 2019, I began working full time again in Accountancy for a local firm. I love numbers, working with people, being active and creative. Within the Board I act as the Treasurer.
Eva Wright, Germany
I am a native German and was actually brought up in beautiful Hattingen an der Ruhr. After graduating from the local Gymnasium, I moved to London to study Graphic & Communication Design. After four years at the London College of Communication and a six-month study exchange in New York, I was so inspired by the international design scene that I carried on with my studies and graduated with a master’s degree in Communication Design from the prestigious Central St.Martins College of Art & Design.
I started working for a number of design and branding agencies. My first job was as a junior designer for the retailer “The Body Shop”, other employers were “Interbrand”, a global branding agency and the well-known advertising agency Jung v. Matt in Hamburg.
After several years in the agency scene, I decided to work as a freelance designer due to family changes and I have been looking after my own clients for over 15 years in communication and web design, as well as brand strategy consulting, with a focus on digitalisation.
After living in the UK for a long time, I have been back in Germany since 2015 and I am pleased to live close to my parents and family again.
I founded the International Women in Business Düsseldorf with Katy Kennedy in 2015 and I am committed and passionate about the further education of women and girls – especially in terms of digital skills.
I believe that women should support and help each other. Networking is the perfect activity to find new business relationships as well as girlfriends!
Jana Matyaskova, Czech Republic
I have been living in Germany for 9 years but we lived in Poland for 2 years before moving to Düsseldorf.
My professional background is multifaceted: After spending a couple of years being a housewife, I restarted my career in Germany. I have been working remotely for 3 years for an IT company in Dresden as an IT consultant.
Before returning to IT, I loved showing my creative side and ran a small jewellery business. This is one outlet for me along with painting, cooking and other creative activities. This creative part of myself, I would like to offer to iwibdus.
I want to be a Board member because events that connect women via creativity are essential and support a different part of our lives. I want to lead that for iwibdus as it is currently missing in the membership.
My past experiences as being an expat following spouse but creating my own career, leads me to understand the average member and I want to be part of women helping women.
Carla Pittaluga, Argentina
A little bit about me, if you don’t know me yet.
Professionally I have a background in brand strategy and brand activation. I have worked mainly with international companies such as Google, Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal or GlaxoSmithKline.
I love what I do.
But I would be nothing without my personal background. I am Argentinian and I have been living Düsseldorf for 5 years. My husband is German and we have a 1 year old baby and a dog named Pampa. My family is divided between Argentina, Germany and USA. That brings a lot of challenges but also diversity to my life. You may wonder if the fact of being a new mom can be an obstacle. The answer is NO. Being a mom empowered me more. When I work, I am a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.
Karen Marie Van Antwerp, USA
I have over 25 years of experience in volunteering on local, national and international boards. I have held a leadership position in the AIWCD for the past 8 years and am proud to share my inside knowledge of “e.v” with iwibdus. I am well known for helping to connect people and sharing my knowledge in a kind, thoughtful and professional manner.
I also have ideas in which we can “celebrate” each other’s organizations within the community and help promote women at the same time.
My husband and I moved to Düsseldorf, several years ago after living in England. We have large dogs and live in the lovely German countryside close to the border of the Netherlands.
I have had the privilege to achieve academic successes with two Master’s Degrees (MBA & Masters of Science) and have studied at Corpus Cristi College at Oxford University.
My husband and I enjoy hiking, traveling, jazz music, photography, and antique car shows.
Melissa Hamer, New Zealand
Since my late teens, I’ve been dedicated to empowering girls and young women through volunteer work. Joining iwibdus in 2020 was a natural fit, given the philosophy of women supporting women, which strongly resonated with me.
Initially, I collaborated with a fantastic little team of volunteers to establish the iwibdus mentoring program and lead its first two rounds. A few years later, I transitioned to the membership team, focusing on backend administration and membership processes. Working closely with Christan and Katy inspired me to seek a deeper involvement by joining the Board, where I look forward to further contributing to iwibdus’s growth and member support.
I am a South African-born, New Zealander and have been living near Düsseldorf since 2017. My education and professional background is predominantly in Human Resources and my favourite responsibilities have included working closely with, and coaching managers; recruitment; learning and development; payroll and reporting; and system and process development. In my downtime, I enjoy walking in the woods, practicing yoga, baking, painting, crocheting, and sewing.
Christan Brannon, USA
I am passionate about building teams, developing people, and applying technology to drive efficiency and improve the customer experience. My background is in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. In my 17 year tenure, I have held roles in customer service, vendor managed inventory, export coordination, business development, marketing, organizational development, and project management.
I am originally from Birmingham, Alabama, USA and attended school at Auburn University. I lived in Houston, Texas for 7 years after graduation and now proudly call Düsseldorf home.
I am a gastronome, a patron of the arts, and a US muscle car devotee.