"Breathe deeply and stand with confidence", CE workshop leader Yolanda vom Hagen tells several dozen North Korean business women in front of her. The participants put their hands on their hips and straighten their posture. "It's not just what you say, it's how you express it!", Yolanda explains. The women nod their heads and smile.
The session was part of a successful series in our Women In Business program last month in Pyongyang: 58 participants, the vast majority of them female, attended seven workshops on business development, project management, business performance evaluation, communication skills, and professional networking. Participants practiced newly learned concepts in competing teams and presented the results in front of the audience.
“Viktoria’s lesson was very memorable”, a 24-year-old female participant said about a workshop leader who had described the experience of building her own business. "I only have 7 employees but I have the same challenges like our teacher. She has 80 employees. I think that's amazing."
In another session on professional networking skills, a German workshop leader spoke about the value of exchanging ideas with peers, and gave tips on how even timid personalities can grow a network and utilize the skills of people around them. Participants were encouraged to discover interests they shared with the other women in the room, and worked together to come up with solutions for real-world business problems they may face in their career.
Other workshops included a session on “Recognizing Business Opportunities”, hosted by a British workshop leader who has started companies in different parts of Africa. When he asked participants to list areas of opportunity in the DPRK, the list grew quickly: New SEZs, better technology, and an increasing number of graduate students could all be good for business, suggested the participants. "I'm very thankful”, a female participant in her 40s said afterwards. “This workshop was very inspiring."
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