Team

Behind the Global Leadership Academy's work stands an interdisciplinary team of creative and passionate minds. All of us have lived and worked abroad and enjoy continuously expanding our horizons across national, cultural and mental borders.

It is the differences in our backgrounds and perspectives and our shared passion for enabling change that bring friction and inspiration to our daily work and that push us to continuously improve what we are doing.


Claudia Apel

Claudia Apel

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Claudia is a project manager and facilitator whose passion is to enable awareness for how our mindsets, communication and behaviour shape the world we live in. She understands the Global Leadership Academy's programmes as a great way of exploring what it can look and feel like to take on new ways of thinking, communicating and acting – in order to bring forward more impactful formats for international cooperation, and ultimately a world that works for all.

Claudia brings to her work the expertise from both of her diplomas in Neuroscience and Organisational Psychology. Claudia has published on the scientific impact evaluation of human capacity development programmes, she is a trainer for Nonviolent Communication and currently pursuing training in Process Work and Deep Democracy.

Simone Hereth

Simone Hereth

Simone has been working for the Global Leadership Academy since 2012 and is responsible for the Cooperation and Alumni management. She brings a wealth of experience to her role gained from her career in Banking and Human Resources where she has worked for Siemens in the United States, Credit Suisse in London, and Merrill Lynch in Frankfurt.

Simone holds a Diploma in Business Administration from the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences with specialisation in Human Resources, Finance and International Management.

Dr. Wiebke Koenig

Dr. Wiebke Koenig

Wiebke is convinced that social transformation will only take place if we offer spaces where people can meet, get to know each other, share and understand their perspectives and finally shape common goals. At the core of her interest is the quest to contribute to an improved international understanding. Her main current objective is therefore to support the establishment of international multistakeholder dialogue processes as central elements of international development cooperation.

Wiebke acts as Head of the Global Leadership Academy since 2013. Previously she was serving as Head of GIZ Corporate Communication Office Berlin, held responsibility for the Liaison Office to the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research and acted as Senior Advisor for East Asia. Before joining GIZ, she has been a lecturer in sociology, focusing on transformation processes in East and Central Asia, economical ethics, comparative sociology and world system theory. She holds a Master of Science in Political Science and East Asian Studies and a PhD in Sociology.

Dr. Katharina Lobeck

Dr. Katharina Lobeck

Katharina is an organisational development advisor, facilitator and project manager, responsible for conceiving, co-creating and convening labs on complex global issues at the Global Leadership Academy. She is particularly interested in the use of dialogue to shift perceptions, broaden perspectives and enable change.

As an Associate of the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, she has explored the role of networks in driving innovation and shaping organisations. Her systemic perspective on change, conflict, ritual and leadership was first shaped during her PhD studies at SOAS, where she researched issues of power, status and role of musicians in Guinea. Prior to joining GIZ in 2010, she worked in Senegal and the UK as a musician, radio and print journalist and creative industry consultant.

Katharina brings her creative background to the programmes and projects she initiates and leads. These include a pan-African leadership development project, creative business incubator and intercultural dialogues she has coordinated for the British Council, as well as a project on sustainable cocoa production she co-designed and managed for GIZ International Services. She currently pursues further professional training in organisational and community development at IPOS, Germany.

Kevin Tharayil

Kevin Tharayil

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Kevin is doing his professional year at the Global Leadership Academy where he supports in communications, monitoring & evaluation, and preparation of new Leadership and Innovation Labs. A Master of Public Policy candidate at the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Kevin has previously worked in wealth management with Citibank and in institutional fundraising for Swissaid — both based out of Mumbai. He has a Bachelor's degree in Commerce with distinction from the University of Pune, and an MBA from the Symbiosis International University.

David Winter

David Winter

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David is a firm believer in the transformative power of dialogue. He graduated in international relations and development policy and is trained as an organisational development advisor as well as a facilitator of transformative change and Theory U/Presencing.

Within his work for the Global Leadership Academy, David is working on designing and facilitating international dialogue, innovation and leadership programmes on different cross-sectoral issues. Among these programmes were the Mandela Dialogues on Memory Work (with the Nelson Mandela Foundation), the Global Wellbeing Lab (with the Presencing Institute and the GNH Center Bhutan) and the Sustainable Oceans Lab (with the Blue Solutions Initiative and Reos Partners).

Before coming to the Global Leadership Academy in 2012, David was based in Botswana, working on regional economic integration and public-private dialogue for the Southern African Development Community.

Mareike Zenker

Mareike Zenker

Mareike is convinced of the importance of social dimensions in all development areas. Connecting different people and fostering exchange has always been a central aspect of her professional life. She has been actively involved in different global and regional networks.

Before joining the Global Leadership Academy in 2015 she was heading a project on strengthening women’s rights in Indonesia directly targeting at building links between different stakeholders at different levels and sectors. She has been working in various positions supporting governance issues and projects in Asia, Africa and the MENA-region. She graduated in Sociology and is trained in Change Management.

Astrid Niehaus

Astrid Niehaus

Astrid started working for the GIZ in 1993. Since then she has worked in various divisions on a wide range of topics: promotion of the public private sector, human trafficking, poverty reduction, gender and human resources. She joined the Global Leadership Academy in 2017 and is in charge of the event management. Because of her long employment with GIZ and former GTZ she has worked, met and connected with different people in all areas across the globe and therefore strengthened her intercultural competence and personal international network. Astrid holds a diploma in English and Business Administration.