Lilli Rohde and Maike Benner : You Are The Captain Of Your Life
Lilli Rohde and Maike Benner :You Are The Captain Of Your Life
By Mareike Rubien
Lilli Rohde and Maike Benner are the founders of MaL!sh, an international Business Consultancy and Coaching company. Combining their experiences and strengths in people management, financials, tools and systems, communication and leadership, MaL!sh offers a variety of services. MaL!sh focuses on teams – concentrating on company’s processes and people as well as international training in different cultures and countries and by connecting women worldwide. The internationally successful ‘Female Office Challenge’ series connects women and empowers them within their challenges and business contexts. Maike & Lilli are also the Directors of the first ‘Global Woman Breakfast Club’ in Frankfurt, Germany which opens on October 14th 2018.
When did you first come up with the idea for your business “MaL!sh”? And how did it become a reality?
Lilli: To start our own business was always on our minds. We have acquired useful knowledge and experience which we want to share. Feedback after coaching, training and mentoring during our professional paths were always extremely positive and have served to encourage us. To empower women, to challenge processes and structures and to come up with ideas for improvement and to initiate their implementation was, and is, part of our character.
Maike: We both needed a change in our lives and were convinced that the timing was never as good as now to make a change to our goals – no matter how big or small. Some incidents happening around us encouraged us to start MaL!sh especially since our meetup event series, “Female Office Challenges” which was received very well in four different countries and has gained a community of 400 members within three months. We want to show the challenges women have in a business context and how to solve them or make them easier to handle.
When did each of you first become passionate about women empowerment? Was there a specific situation or trigger? Or has it always been part of you?
Lilli: To empower women was always our passion. For years, I was the only female in a leading position in my Company. Working within a man’s world made me realise that we women are more or less alone at the top. I lacked the support of my female colleagues at all hierarchy levels. So, when I looked behind me, I did not have a “girls crowd” to support me or cheer for me. That’s why I started to mentor and motivate my team members and supported them to get promotions. To see when women succeed and start to believe in themselves and reach immense self-confidence is amazing.
Maike: As soon as women start to realise and activate their strength everything becomes possible. I grew up surrounded by strong and powerful women. I think this is why I was irritated when I first came across gender related “restrictions” i.e. things that are apparently performed better by men like IT or parking cars. I remember the first internet course I did (when the internet was just getting popular some decades ago) was called “going online without needing help from a man” and I found it rather strange. I like to encourage women not to make boundaries for themselves, when really they just exist in our heads or are simple the “traditional” way of doing things – or dividing tasks.
Both of you have worked abroad for a while. How would you say does the situation for women in business compare in different countries? How do you judge the situation in Germany in comparison to other countries?
Lilli: From my point of view women all over the world have more or less the same basic topics: combining family and job. In most countries in the world you need to make a choice: do I want a family and a relationship, or do I want a career?
Maike: I agree absolutely, and I don’t see many differences in women being part of business life and having the challenges at home no matter if they work in Egypt, Ireland, Australia, Canada or Brazil.
Both of you come from very small towns. What are your first initial memories of women in their careers? How did they change when you grew up? And how do you feel women empowerment can become a part of our everyday life?
Maike: It goes without saying that our society jointly needs to work on concepts and models within the next few years so that women are free to choose whatever path they want to take in their lives (and also switch from one path and model of living and working to another).
Lilli: But don’t wait for things to change. You can make a change in your life and in other women’s lives now by connecting, supporting and cheering for other women. How about supporting people who already dedicate their lives to female empowerment like Melanie Vogel, our nomination for the ‘Global Woman Entrepreneur’ award?
What are your tips to women out there who feel like they can’t succeed in their dream career and don’t have as many chances as men in the same career paths?
Maike: Don’t wait for someone to come and see your potential. You have to make yourself visible and talk about yourself and your success stories. Also, let those who surround you know when you are convinced that you are able to do a job or task. That confidence will convince others. If you think you don’t have the necessary skills needed, then work on obtaining them.
Lilli: Women should become aware or their strength and power and develop self-confidence. It helps tremendously to have a mentor who supports you along the way; someone to give you input and ideas to develop yourself. Since mentoring is focused on a long-term relationship and your development in a wide range of topics and with a wide horizon, it does not have to be someone from your Company and you don’t need to wait until you enter working life. In fact, it’s advisable to get a mentor as early as possible.
Maike: Even if you don’t have a mentor you may also become a mentor for someone else. You develop great skills yourself and there are always women out there who are younger and less experienced who are dying to find a mentor.
When did you first hear about the “Global Women’s Club”? How do you think it can help women achieve their career or business goals?
Maike: We first became aware of the ‘Global Woman’ organisation on Eventbrite. It is actually quite funny that before becoming the Directors of the GW Club in Frankfurt we tried to participate at the breakfast events three times and failed each time. The first event in Los Angeles was fully booked, the second breakfast in London we missed due to flight delay and the third one – also in London, we missed because all flights were cancelled due to a thunderstorm and hail. Still we made it eventually to London, where we met with many great women who were still around and naturally connected with Mirela Sula.
When you speak at the ‘Global Women Summit’ what are your main ideas and goals you want to present?
Lilli: Our message will be about empowering women and being the ‘Captain of your Life’, learning from the past and living now and forming your future. The focus of the panel discussion will be on leadership and we will share our view after working in different industries, working and living in different countries and leading people, teams and departments.
And finally, what do you think needs to change for women in the next five years?
We think that women will get more connected, helping each other to unfold their full potential. There are so many opportunities out there – we women just need to grab them!