Making diversity work

Allen Asiimwe is a trade and governance advisor and practitioner with many years of experience in the public sector. In her work, the passionate networker focusses on diversity and gender issues. She took part in The Power of Diversity Lab.

As a country director for Trademark East Africa, a not-for-profit organization, Allen was in charge of improving trade conditions and infrastructure in Uganda. For road building activities, she handled a vast budget and thus took on a lot of responsibility. That brought about conflicting interests as well as some covetousness. “You know I was having a lot of conflicts – handling 100 million Dollars is not simple! There are so many interests”, Allen says and laughs. The skills regarding managing group dynamics she acquired in The Power of Diversity Lab helped her navigate even through critical situations. “In cases like that we had to employ all sorts of engagement and understanding of the different interests involved. But for me it was the awareness of the underlying currents that helped me the most – this awareness I didn’t have before the lab.”

Networking at the lab and beyond

Thus, the expectations she had when she joined the lab were met: “I had a long relationship with the GIZ and I always loved the innovative approach. I definitely knew that my life would be impacted with this new way of working and thinking.” She especially benefited from sharing experiences with others who are in charge of complex group processes. “One of the key benefits was making new friends – people like Elizabeth from Kenya, Aneta and Joy in the UK or Lena from Sudan. These have become very close friends whom I now continue to work with.”

Returning from the lab, Allen pursued some new ideas: She decided to enroll in a Master’s program at Harvard Business School and later founded her own consultancy firm working in the fields of trade and governance.

But one project she started is particularly dear to her heart: The Girls 4 Girls Mentoring Initiative she co-founded in 2017 with friends and colleagues at Harvard. In the audio slide show below, she tells us more about her work for the project in East Africa.

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