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Photo credit: © IAKW-AG/Andreas Hofer

Susanne Baumann Soellner

Management Board Spokesperson of Austria Center Vienna

Susanne Baumann-Söllner was appointed Management Board Spokesperson of the Austria Center Vienna, Austria’s largest conference centre, as of December 2012. In 2017 around 105,000 international participants attended events hosted at the venue. This represents a 13% year-on-year increase, and a jump of 104% compared with 2013. In the past she worked at the Federal Ministry of Finance as an advisor to a number of ministers and as head of the department for tax policy and tax law. Baumann-Söllner is the author of a number of publications on fiscal policy.

Q: What does gender equality mean to you?

In the workplace, it means ensuring that women and men are subject to the same requirements and have the same opportunities to make a contribution and further their own professional development. In my experience, this is primarily possible when there are structures in place to ensure a proper work-family balance. This means sharing childcare responsibilities so that women and men have the same career opportunities. Thankfully, things are heading in this direction and I also try my best to lead by example on a private level in my own family, and on a professional one by supporting my colleagues.

“The industry is highly innovative and forward-looking, and, as a result, gender relations have a major role to play.”

Q: What do you think about gender relations inside the MICE industry?

The industry is highly innovative and forward-looking, and, as a result, gender relations has a major role to play. Overall, the statistics show that participants in the congress industry are getting younger all the time, with women accounting for an increasing proportion, which we are really happy about! I strongly believe that this trend will continue – and the same goes for the growing number of women in management positions in the congress industry. There is still room for improvement here, but I’m sure that we are on the right track.

Susanne_Baumann_Soellner_Austria_Center_Vienna

Photo credit: © IAKW-AG/Andreas Hofer

Q: How does your company deal with gender equality?

At significantly over 30%, we have a high proportion of women in management positions at our company. We promote equal opportunities by making it possible for both male and female employees to strike a healthy balance between their work and family commitments. Men and women alike take parental leave here, we make it possible for people to work from home and offer specially tailored part-time working models. In terms of compensation – a particularly important area – we have put a transparent salary structure in place to further underpin financial equality. As far as childcare is concerned, we are also taking action for the benefit of our customers as one of the first congress venues to offer free daycare at large-scale international congresses. By doing so, we have enabled lots of men and women with small children to successfully accommodate childcare responsibilities and congress activities.

Q: How does your company deal with harassment issues?

Harassment is not tolerated at our company in any form whatsoever. All of our employees are able to report incidents to our works council and its equal opportunities office at any point for immediate investigation. Fortunately, there have not been any significant incidents during my time in charge, but we are prepared for such an eventuality and take every complaint seriously.

Q: What would you recommend women entering the MICE industry?

I definitely recommend setting themselves targets and systematically pursuing them. Acting with confidence and having faith in their ability to take on new challenges is also essential. As far as maintaining a healthy work-family balance goes, I think it is extremely important to have female role models in management positions who are not only good managers, but also practice what they preach when it comes to reconciling work and family commitments. There are countless great examples of this in the MICE industry. While this hopefully sets a great example for young women, it should also show young men that career and family are not mutually exclusive.