Thriving Thursdays: Mindfulness Matters

Uncertain times require a specific set of competencies and demand consciousness in all our interactions. In this difficult time, we would like to make a contribution to help you face the lockdown and the government restrictions by adopting a growth mindset, instead of a fear mindset, and by introducing a new format for our online events.

SIETAR Austria organizes a series of ExpertTalks on Thursday evenings at 18:00 CEST via ZOOM to find out how experts from across the world, who work in the intercultural field, are surviving or thriving in our current turbulent times. 

The series is called “Thriving Thursdays: Mindfulness Matters” and we aim to consciously promote a growth mindset in these difficult times, spread positive vibes, and help others to cope with everyday challenges that have been arising. 

If you want to engage with the idea of conscious communication and decision-making, if you want to expand your awareness, and if you like Educational Videos, you are in the right place. In our series, you can meet experts from various sectors and directly ask them what comes to your mind. No longer will you be left with further questions about a topic.

Every week you will find the details for our Thriving Thursdays: Mindfulness Matters on our social media channels: FacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn.

The link for ZOOM registration is here:

We are looking forward to having you join our WebTalks!
Below you can learn more about previous and upcoming Speakers.

Talk # 11 Tamara Thorpe

Date: Thursday, June 25, 2020 / 18:00 – 18:30

“While the global pandemic has certainly been a time of uncertainty and anxiety; it has also been time to slow down, reflect, and pivot. I have spent a lot of time connecting with my clients, colleagues, and mentors in much more meaningful ways, strengthening our relationships and supporting one another during these difficult times.

Tamara Thorpe is the CEO of Real Global, helping her clients discover how wonderful intercultural and multi-generational differences are and how they can use those differences to enrich their work and life. She has more than twenty years of experience in intercultural education and training and designs intercultural and leadership programs to help organizations better navigate the complexities of a global economy. Tamara is also a dynamic speaker in high demand who has delivered keynotes at conferences across the globe. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from the University of California, San Diego, and a Master of Arts in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia. She has been a member of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR, USA) since 2006and currently serves on the Board for both SIETAR Ireland and SIETAR Europe.

Talk # 10 Barbara Covarrubias Venegas

Date: Thursday, June 18, 2020 / 18:00 – 18:30

Dr. Barbara is a senior researcher and lecturer at universities in Austria and abroad. Besides, she is a Visiting Professor at the University of Valencia/Spain. She worked and studied in Austria, Spain, Italy, Chile, and Mexico. For many years she was president of SIETAR Austria and board member and communication director of SIETAR Europa. Currently, Barbara is a Secretary-General of the IACCM (International Association of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management), based at WU Vienna.

Talk # 9 Vincent Merk

Date: Thursday, June 11, 2020|18:00-18:30

Vincent Merk is an independent trainer & consultant in intercultural communication & management. Born in Strasbourg, Vincent is a Frenchman who has been living and working in The Netherlands since 1981. He is a senior trainer in professional skills and a lecturer in Intercultural Management at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Vincent also teaches similar subjects in other higher education institutions such as Skema Business School in Lille (between 2001 and 2011) and currently at Audencia Business School in Nantes.⁣

In addition, he works as a training consultant in intercultural business communication, negotiation, management, and professional mobility for various organizations and companies in Europe. He currently focuses on issues of diversity & inclusion in education and business, including the concept of trust in multicultural (virtual) teams, and the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on management and leadership practices in Europe and beyond. He is a regular presenter in academic conferences in Europe and Asia has attended all but one SIETAR Europa congresses and is a former president of SIETAR Europa.⁣

Vincent Merk is the author of several articles on intercultural communication and negotiation and co-author of two books on communicating and doing business with the French. He holds a Master of Arts in Public Administration along with a minor in English and German from the University of Grenoble and carried out post-graduate studies at the University of Amsterdam. He speaks French, Dutch, English, German, and Spanish. In 2016 Vincent joined the Expertise Faculty.⁣

Talk #8 Svitlana Buko

Date: Thursday, June 4, 2020| 18:00-18:30

“Don’t vent, reinvent!”

Svitlana Buko (St.Petersburg, 1981), sociologist, manager, a researcher with intercultural experience from six countries.  She graduated from Gymnasium in California (USA, 1997), completed her specialist degree in St.Peterburg (Russia, 2002), conducted doctoral research on American-Ukrainian management (Kyiv, Ukraine 2009), concluded her post-doctoral research with ERSTE Foundation (Vienna, Austria, 2013). 

She conducted national field research (leadership, women entrepreneurship, cultural intelligence), organized training (onboarding programs, pre-departure orientations, and re-entries), published results of research in the peer-reviewed journals, delivered guest lectures and presented at international conferences in Russia, the USA, Ukraine, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Belgium, Ireland, Cyprus. 

She is a docent of the intercultural management, teaching at the MA-level program, mentor for the course “Russia in the context of the Slavic Businesses” for the DOBA Business school (Maribor, Slovenia). Dr. Buko is currently based in the border town Nova Gorica (Slovenia)-Gorizia (Italy), working on the research project “Entrepreneurship and innovation in the tri-border region: Slovenia-Italy-Austria,” teaching cross-border cooperation seminars at the School of Management at Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (Villach, Austria).

Talk #7 Joanna Sell

Date: Thursday, May 28, 2020| 18:00-18:30

“Ready for Storytelling across cultures? I am your intercultural practitioner inviting you to enhance the collaboration across borders through the narrative approach”

Joanna Sell is a devoted traveller who loves discovering diverse aspects of cultural heritage. She offers intercultural workshops and coaching for global corporations, middle-sized enterprises, non-profit organizations, and university students and employees. (at the Leibnitz University (Hannover) and at the Hildesheim University). Before that, she was awarded the certification in intercultural communication called “Intercultural Trainer and Coach” from the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena. Joanna graduated at two universities: The Jagiellonian University in Cracow (Magister TitleI) and the Leibnitz University in Hannover (M.A.).

Talk #6 Mafalda Arias, M.A

Date: Thursday, May 21, 2020| 18:00-18:30

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mafalda Arias on numerous projects since I met her at the SIETAR conference in 2009. Mafalda is an exceptional intercultural trainer, facilitator and coach. She consistently receives praise from our clients for the invaluable insight she provides on doing business around the world, and especially in North and South America. Her knowledge of intercultural strategy is remarkable and her ability to apply it through learning experiences she delivers to groups and individuals is unique.”

Mafalda Arias, M.A., is the President and Founder of Mafalda Arias and Associates, an organization that coaches organizations and individuals to interact, communicate, and manage differences effectively. The company’s innovative training programs help to build trust, reduce misunderstandings, leverage diversity and to introduce collective empowerment through culture. Prior to founding Mafalda Arias and Associates, she worked for over 20 years in various capacities in private and public companies in the mineral exploration and mining industries in Canada and South America. Mafalda has a Master’s Degree in Intercultural Relations from the University of the Pacific, California, and the Intercultural Communication Institute, Oregon. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Universidad de Lima, and a post-graduate certificate in International Commerce From ESAN, Lima. She is certified in various intercultural assessment tools and faculty of the Intercultural Development Inventory LLC. Her mother tongue is Spanish and she is also proficient in conversational French.

In terms of coping strategies, she said “I really don’t have any. I continue with my daily routine of observations & reflections, writing, being in nature, meditation, and praying (I am Catholic). I don’t see any of these as strategies because these are things I do in my regular life, every day and wherever I am in this world.”

Talk #5 Dr. Marie-Thérèse Claes

Date: Thursday, May 14, 2020| 18:00-18:30

„ Coping with being confined? It is an opportunity to do things at home that I usually have not enough time to do, such as rearranging and cleaning up my bookshelves, read at least some of my unread books, write an article, and some physical activity like spring cleaning! Keeping healthy and positive, feeling grateful and compassionate.”

This Thursday will feature Dr. Marie-Thérèse Claes, PhD, a professor of cross-cultural management at Louvain School of Management, University of Louvain, and at AIT (Asian Institute of Technology) in Thailand. Marie Thérèse has over twenty years of teaching experience in Business Communication, Intercultural Communication, and Intercultural Management in Belgium, and as a guest professor at many universities around the world. She teaches in the CEMS Masters in International Management and is part of the Global Leadership Faculty Group.

Dr. Marie Thérèse is also a consultant and coach specializing in relocation, diversity management, and global leadership. She is a former president of the International Association of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management (IACCM), the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR Europa), and the European Women’s Management Development International Network (EWMD). Furthermore, she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fullbright, and a Japan Foundation alumni.

If you are interested to learn from this incredible mentor, sign up on Zoom for this week’s event:

Talk #4 Dr. George F. Simons

Date: Thursday, May 7, 2020| 18:00-18:30

“Distance is not the same as separation.”

This Thursday will feature Dr. George F. Simons, a consultant, trainer, coach, writer, and researcher specializing in diversity, intercultural communication, and negotiation. Dr. George F. Simons is the founder and owner of George Simons International, a virtual consulting network specializing in intercultural communication, global negotiation, and team development. Moreover, George has served as a member of the Board of Directors of SIETAR Europa, and of the Conseil d’administration of SIETAR France.

Dr. George F. Simons has more than 50 years of extensive experience in cross-cultural communication and global management, he has developed and conducted intercultural training for clients such as Asian Development Bank, BP, Bouygues Batiment International, SIEMENS, PT Arun, Pertamina, Mobil Oil Indonesia, and Shell Canada, Ford Motor Company, Chase Bank, Bank of Montreal, Procter & Gamble, Unocal, and many others.

George is also the developer of the award-winning DIVERSOPHY® intercultural learning tools and games for developing intercultural competence in training rooms, as well as for online learning and other new technologies (

In addition to DIVERSOPHY®, Dr. Simons is the author and editor of some of the most widely used analysis tools, training designs, and literature in the intercultural and global management fields. He is a co-author of eight packages in the Cultural Detective Series, and many articles, reviews, poems, and other publications (see

Talk #3 Shannon Murphy Robinson M.A.

Date: Thursday, April 30, 2020| 18:00-18:30

„Calming the fear circuitry in the brain and engaging positive emotions to improve resiliency and creativity.“ 

This Thursday will feature Shannon Murphy Robinson, M.A., an organizational consultant, trainer, and speaker. She has extensive experience in neuroscience, global diversity and inclusion, as well as intercultural management, and leadership development.

Shannon is CEO and co-founder of [email protected], a consultancy devoted entirely to applying the latest neuroscience research to develop more effective leadership competencies. Examples of these competencies are diversity, inclusion, cross-cultural skills, team excellence, resiliency, and dealing with change. Shannon brings more than 15 years of experience working with organizations to successfully create and implement diversity and inclusion training initiatives. These clients include Deloitte, Boston Scientific, CHRISTUS Health, Deluxe, Barr Engineering, Aetna, Cargill, Mayo Clinic, University of Michigan, Medtronic, and Champlain College.

Shannon is also co-author of the books “Neuroscience of Inclusion: New Skills for New Times,” the “BrainStates Self-Awareness Profil,” and a report on “The Neuroscience of Inclusion: Managing Unconscious Bias.”

During the 20-minute session, Shannon will talk about how to calm the fear circuitry in the brain and engage positive emotions to improve resiliency and creativity.

Shannon also shared 10 Quick Tools to Recenter & Keep the Higher Brain

Talk #2 Dr. Milton Bennett

Date: Thursday, April 23, 2020| 18:00-18:30

“This time of enforced separation is giving us an opportunity to become more conscious of our interactions with others. In a paraphrase of the great Austrian constructivist Paul Watzlawick:  in order to be appreciative of others, we must first see the world as our own invention, and then apply that insight to the worlds of our fellow creatures as well. The pandemic illustrates this all too well. We have created the conditions for the virus to multiply, and our ability to combat it is dependent on each of us appreciate that the lives of others are not less real than our own.

Dr. Milton Bennett is a co-founder of the Intercultural Communication Institute (USA) and the executive director of the Intercultural Development Research Institute in Europe as well as in the United States. He is an active member of the SIETAR Europa and one of the founders of the International Academy of Intercultural Research.

At present, he develops and conducts intercultural training for corporations and such universities like the University of Milano Bicocca (Italy), the University of Switzerland in Lugano, Danube University in Krems (Austria), Carinthia University of Applied Sciences in Villach (Austria), and Peking University Summer School (China).

Dr. Bennett’s work is largely around constructivist intercultural consciousness, development of observational categories and adaptation strategies that are necessary for living in a kind of society that we have not really seen before, a profoundly multicultural society.

Talk # 1 Matthew Hill

Date: ThursdayApril 16, 2020| 18:00 – 18:30

This Thursday, you will meet Matthew Hill, who is one of the UK’s most dynamic Leadership Trainers and Coaches, Conflict Mediator, Intercultural Facilitator, and Writer.

Matthew Hill has more than 20 years of experience in training, coaching, executive search, and country entry consulting. Matthew has worked with many well-known companies such as Facebook, SAP, Tesco, Kimberly Clark, Motorola, GE Capital, Swedish Steel, Vodafone, Orange, AXA Insurance, Renault, the British Army, Diageo – Guinness, Unilever, Nike, Deutsche Bank, Chevrolet and Proctor &Gamble.

During the 20-minute session, Matthew will share some of his powerful techniques and strategies to help you go through the tough times and facilitate your growth in confidence, credibility, and competence. Through running his own business and giving his time to not-for-profit leadership projects, Matthew learned of what a great leader’s core skills need to be and is willing to share them with us.