About Heidelberg International Professional Women’s Forum

Since 2020 HIP e.V. is a registered organisation and was approved to work for the benefit of the public by the tax authorities (Gemeinnützigkeit).

Our Vision and Mission

The purpose of the Heidelberg International Professional (HIP) Women’s Forum is to bring together women from various international firms and backgrounds to exchange ideas, learn from one another’s experiences, and develop skills that will enhance both professional and personal success. Our hope is that such a forum will also provide an opportunity to connect women who are seeking new challenges and directions with others who have distinguished themselves in their profession and community.

Our Values

  • Contribute to the advancement of women
  • Facilitate learning and professional development
  • Peer mentoring through networking
  • Fun!

Benefits of being a member

We offer a welcoming community for business networking in a relaxed environment. HIP can be a platform for testing your professional ideas and dreams and an opportunity to learn and develop new skills. In our network you can be sure to receive encouragement, support and feedback and to have fun. To help us achieve our objectives, the HIP Women’s Forum provides a full program of events for professional networking and leadership education throughout the year. We charge a membership fee of 60€ per year which we use to fund public and internal events, such as the HIP Carousel. Members can participate in these events free of charge. Guests are welcome and will be charged individually per event depending on the type of event (15-35€ per event).

Our history

The HIP Women’s Forum was founded 2007 as an informal network of international women in the Rhein-Neckar region by Shuchi Sharma, who was soon joined by Fabiana Bianchi, Jennifer Watson, Frédérique Thiriet-Smith and Stefanie Gerlach. They had the vision of bringing together international women of the Rhein Neckar region who share international backgrounds and professions in order to build a platform for professional development and a network to promote the individual and collective potential of each member. Women working for multinational companies abroad or in an international environment face many of the same challenges related to being a female professional in a foreign country. At HIP we help one another to grow and achieve personal and professional success.

Steering Committee

Dr.Manuela Toteva

Dr. Manuela Toteva

Head of HIP Steering Committee

Manuela is a marketing and communications professional with +20 years of practice who was born in Bulgaria and lives in Heidelberg since 2017. She has managed multiple projects for companies from Germany, Eastern Europe, UK and US in the software industry, metals, banking and finance, and wholesale. As an adjunct professor, she teaches strategic communications, digital marketing and intercultural management in a few prestigious European universities. She supports multiple causes dedicated to women’s empowerment, equal education opportunities, and cancer research. Her volunteering for HIP is focused on uplifting women professionals who are catalysts of positive change, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Natalia Mcglinchey

Member of HIP Steering Committee

Natalia moved to Germany in 2013 after living and working in several countries, including Hungary, the USA, France, South Africa, and Switzerland. She is a Hungarian citizen, is married with two children, and holds a master’s in finance & business administration. Outside of working part-time for a family-owned import-export company in the region, Natalia enjoys sports and social activities, including being a swimming teacher for young children. With her open mind and engaging personality, Natalia hopes to attract new members to the community.

Kara Szczesna

Member of HIP Steering Committee

Kara is a brand designer fostering global connections through collaborations with international clients for over two decades. Kara believes design has the power to transform the world. As a passionate #change-catalyst, she has been a driving force in revolutionizing the visual landscapes of modern print and digital communications. With an ever-watchful eye on the horizon of innovation, Kara guides projects to new heights, igniting a spark that fuels progress. Her creative journey thrives in Heidelberg’s community, where she actively participates in local life. Beyond design, she’s an avid reader and observer, constantly enriched by diverse narratives that fuel her creativity. Her inspiration comes from faltering in the streets with a camera in hand to capture the poetry of everyday life. With roots from Poland to the world, she aims to embody a cross-cultural perspective, infusing each creation with a unique blend of influences.

Dr. Houda Hallay

Member of HIP Steering Committee

Houda is French, living in Heidelberg since 2012. She is a versatile professional with a dynamic career that seamlessly bridges the realms of scientific research and strategic marketing within the biotech sector. With a PhD in molecular biology and a mini-MBA, Houda brings a unique blend of scientific acumen and business strategic thinking to her current role as a Marketing Program Manager. Houda is multi-passionate and likes to mentor young professionals, create digital content, photography, videography and other creative activities.

Dr. Dragana Hoeser

Member of HIP Steering Committee

Dragana works as a process engineer and project manager in the chemical and automotive industry. Her largest passion is optimization of processes in order to improve stakeholder satisfaction. She is implementing principles of various methodologies like Design Thinking, Business Analytics, Toyota Industries Business Practice, etc. She holds a master’s degree in chemical & Process Engineering (University of Belgrade) and PhD in Mechanical engineering (ETH Zürich). Also, she enjoys being creative, working with kids and dealing with technical challenges from toys to chemical reactors. Her origins are from Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia, but since 2008 she was getting her experience all around Europe. Dragana has lived in Germany since 2020.