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Building a trustful and long-lasting personal and business relationship with Chinese

Today, globalization is unstoppable, making it the norm that people from diverse cultural backgrounds work and live together on a daily base. At the same time, we all know that trust is the foundation of long lasting and successful partnerships. But how can we build that trust when we don’t understand the covert cultural signals being sent?

China, the Middle Kingdom, opened its doors to the world more than 30 years ago and has developed into one of the largest economic centers of the world. However, for many westerners, this country, its people and culture remain mysteriously hidden like something of a closed book.

Hong-Hong has been working and living in both Europe and Asia over the last decades allowing her insight into the interaction between the European and Chinese cultures.  In this presentation, she will show us how to find the right path for building that fundamental trust so we can build a successful business relationship with Chinese and ultimately reap the fruits of international cooperation.

3 key take-aways

  • There are differences between Chinese and Westerners, none-the-less we are all human.
  • Chinese may be strangers, but they are not strange! Get involved with them.
  • For the Chinese, a trustful relationship comes from the heart, not from the head.


Ms. HongHong Xu was born in Beijing, has been working and living in both China and Germany since 1988. She holds a Master of Engineering in Materials Science from Technical University Darmstadt (1995) and MBA from University Mannheim (2000). She is senior manager at BASF SE.

Feel free to bring friends who are not HIP members by sharing the link of this event and having her sign up as well.  Hope to see you there!

Registration: please use this Doodle to confirm your participation

Format: Speaker presentation and Q&A

Food: Order what you want and pay for what you order

Donations: Our group puts on events through donations from members at the event so we ask for a €10 donation. We thank you for your support!

Location: The venue is located in Heidelberg Kirchheim. It can be reached by Bus 33 to Gregor Mendel Realschule or Pleikartsförster Strasse.

To receive updates via email and become a HIP member, please register and join us here.


Picture by Dorothée Piroelle

2018 HIP christmas party

HIP Christmas Party

At the end of the year we met to celebrate another great year of presentations, workshops and networking. Enjoying lovely Italian Food and drinks we shared our most important take-aways or learnings from 2016. Some of us had founded their own business, others had changed a job. We all had some insights to share from the past year.

As every year we wound up the evening with our famous ‘White-Elephant’ exchange. We all had cleared our basements, cupboards and garages to find one thing we would like to get rid of.  Some popular gifts changed the owner several times. One person’s coal made someone else’s diamond. Some gifts made us tell stories of the past when we first got hold of this item. And some gifts let us share some laughs. We all have some weird things at home.

We wrapped up 2016 and unwrapped 2017. Stay tuned and check out our Upcoming Events calendar. Hope to see you at an event soon!


Picture by Andrew Knechel on Unsplash.com, Creative Commons Zero licence

own your career own your life

Own Your Career – Own Your Life

Tuesday evening’s presentation ‘Own Your Career-Own Your Life’  by Monika Niederhoff proved to be another stimulating success with lots of enthusiastic discussion.

Monika, VP Production Program Director at SAP, shared with us the story of her career as she worked her way up the ladder in her field.  A few of the to-dos and taboos included:

To do: have clear goals, be courageous, let your voice be heard, be aware of cross-cultural differences.

Taboos: At yearly reviews focus on what you have accomplished, not where you can improve! Do not hesitate or hold back, state your interest for areas and posts of interest.  Don’t expect encouragement or reassurance to be willing to grab an opportunity.

Monika also demonstrated the intersection between work and family, and how it takes a strong commitment from the entire family to find the right balance for everyone.  She was warm, she was witty and I believe her story resonated with many of us in the room.

own your career own you rlife monika niederhof at HIP 2016


social media marketing

Marketing yourself in social media with Austeja Subaciute and Larisa Balanovskaya

On Juli 21st we had the opportunity to improve our personal branding in an interactive workshop with Austėja Subačiūtė and Larisa Balanovskaya. The workshop addressed branding ourselves as individual professionals and as business owners.

Austėja explained to us the methodology of psychographic consumer segmentation, showing us the importance of understanding consumers as humans with full lives. We also learned that for successful communication it is critical to start with understanding the needs of consumers instead of trying to push our brand attributes.

Buidling up on Austeja’s presentation, Larisa talked about how to apply the principles of branding online. In her presentation she covered two platforms: Facebook and LinkedIn. She explained what a business owner can do to create exposure and awareness for business on Facebook as well as to enhance the customer experience and ultimately increase sales. After discussing some rules of successful Facebook pages, Larisa has talked about how a corporate professional can optimize LinkedIn profile to position herself as an authority in the field.
Even though social media marketing is not set in stone, and the key of success is in experimenting and testing of what works for your own business or personal brands and what does not, one should be aware of the basic rules and guidelines every online platform has. Besides, there are some tricks that make the process of setting online presence easier.
Larisa shared valuable practical advises of how to use these two platforms to build successful and profitable brands.
We continued to discover how to identify our own brand essence based on understanding the target audience and the environment around us. We finished the session with an interactive workshop where we all worked on our brand essence, presenting our results to each other.

The workshop was extremely engaged and active. We were all inspired by fellow business owners soaking up new ideas how to improve their business marketing. Discussions continued throughout the workshop to obtain further insights.

All participants received the presentation slide deck for future reference. Anyone we missed may request a copy from Austeja. Please contact her at austeja(at)garrisongroup.eu .

HIP joins NCT run against cancer 2016 charity

NCT-RUNning against cancer

This year’s NCT-RUNning against cancer was another great success, bringing in over 105,000€ to beat back cancer.  We walked, we ran, we went with Nordic poles and trotters, with our kids and our enthusiasm. And, ta-da! HIP came in 27th in contributions ahead of the over 275 teams signed up for the event!. That’s not bad ladies, congratulations!

We’re planning on making this an annual project so please schedule for next year’s event on July 7, 2017.  Let’s show them all that we’re ‘Women on the Run’!

Many thanks to Cheryl for the classy T-shirts which made us feel very official!

2016 HIP Sabine Keller

Getting Our “Ducks in a Row” with Sabine Keller

On Saturday April 23rd we all had the opportunity to learn from Sabine Keller the ins and outs of ‘Getting Our Ducks in a Row’ – that is taking care, in advance, of having our affairs in order, just in case something happened, such as an illness or accident, which would impede our ability to speak for ourselves.  The discussion covered the importance of who would be in charge or our things, our families, but even more important, ourselves.  We explored the difference between advance directives, living wills and the power of attorney.

The interest was high and Sabine answered the many questions with patience and knowledge.  As this is a service she offers she is clear on where she can guide and advise and where it is important for us to seek legal aide.

As international women with our lives sometimes spread out over several countries, she underlined the importance of cross-checking that our wishes and directives are formulated in all the necessary languages and according to the different countries requirements so as to facilitate any processes that must be put in place by those people we appoint to do so.

Sabine underlined that while we hope the chances are slim of something so drastic happening to us, it can.  It is up to us to be prepared, saving those who love and care for us the anguish of dealing with obscure regulations at a time when they will also be dealing with the emotions which are part and parcel of just such a situation.

Funnily enough the discussion was not grey and heavy, but stimulating and vibrant.  We felt the power of a group coming together to help one another achieve a very important task that we all need to deal with.

Another important topic which will help us be on the top of our professional and personal lives.

HIP night out
HIP night out
HIP night out
HIP international women's day 2016

Women Helping Women: An International Women’s Day Presentation

HIP Women’s Forum was thrilled to have Uta Anders speak to a group of 47 women on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016 at the ADAC Office in Heidelberg.

The event started with the registration in a welcoming atmosphere, where beverages and food were provided. The food was catered by HIP Member Juliah Rais-Morres. Some enjoyed a glass of prosecco, while others had delicious food and said hello to each other.

After networking for a while, the women found themselves a seat with a little scented candle on it, a welcome gift from Cheryl Sweeney of Yankee Candle. Every woman introduced herself by telling her nationality, what she did for a living and what brought her to the Rhine-Neckar Region and to HIP.

Then the guest speaker Uta Anders was introduced to us by HIP Steering Committee Head Cheryl Sweeney and Uta told us her career story at the company ThyssenKrupp, where she works as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Throughout her story, she touched on themes of hard work, opportunity, living abroad and being comfortable where she lived.

Last year, as a lot of refugees started arriving in Europe and at the Patrick-Henry-Village (PHV) in Heidelberg, Uta wanted to help and had the idea of doing a project there. A long time practitioner of yoga in a local yoga studio, she decided to organize a weekly yoga/movement class for women and girls at PHV.

Uta asked for help from the Diakonisches Werk Heidelberg, the yoga studio where she usually did classes and her friends. Through Facebook she was able to coordinate teachers and helpers to show up at the assigned room to conduct the moving/yoga classes.

At their first class, they were ready to go but no one showed up! So a flyer was created and handed out to the people at the PHV. The flyer was even translated into Arabic but still no one showed up.

Uta hung in there, kept handing out flyers and showing up with her group. Around the third or fourth time, women and girls came and really enjoyed the chance to move, relax and dance. The effort, at first known as “Yoga For Help” transitioned into “Yoga for Hope” which explains the feelings of hope and community that is created through this activity. And not just for the women and girls, but for Uta and her friends as well.

Uta talked about the achievements she made through ‘Yoga for Hope’ and how much happiness was added to her life by the people who she met at the yoga group. Uta said that nothing could give you more joy then the hope and happiness you give to the people around you.

The women at the event were then invited to discuss and share any ideas they had for the refugees and for helping other women.  After more food, beverages and networking a wonderful evening came to an end and left all the participating women with a lot of fulfillment and good thoughts.

Written by HIP Member Silvia Schukraft; photos by HIP Member Larisa Balanovskaya, contact her for any full size images.

2016 HIP imrov theatre workshop

Using improvisation theater in your presentations

Some years ago, Frédérique was captivated by theatrical improvisation technique, which she finds an inspiring and compelling tool for personal development, leadership, change management, team building, creativity, and communication skills development. Improvisation Theater is the art of acting without script or props – making everything up on the spot, in real time, following a set of rules and practices such as focusing on the here and now and making the most out of what is available at the moment to achieve the intended goal.

Key-competencies of an improvisational actor are also important to anyone working in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world (sometimes abbreviated as VUCA), such as the ability to let go of the initial plan, listening to others’ ideas, building on them, and exploring unconventional solutions.

At the beginning of the workshop Frédérique shared with us some insights she had while learning improvisation theater. And because talking about it is no substitute for the experience, you had the opportunity to take part in some improvisation exercises. We tested ourselves how body language shapes our mind, feeling unsecure with a hunched posture and confident when we made eye contact with others.


Frédérique Thiriet-Smith, a HIP member from the beginning, is a French national who has lived in Heidelberg, Germany since 1999. She has worked in international companies for over 30 years, successfully leading multicultural and virtual teams facilitating change, skills development and knowledge exchange on a worldwide scale.


Picture: Drive-In Theatre by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.com, Creative Commons Zero licence