With her unique sense of British humor, her charming French self, her German way of being forward and her big heart – Fran always knows how to make people smile. Originally from a small town in northern Saxony, Fran began living abroad at the age of 16, spending time in England, France, the US and Asia. With her background in Business, Economics and Public Management, she has always wanted to work in an international context. She began her studies at one of Kiron’s Partner Universities, the Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR Berlin). As a student, she was curious to travel the world and study and work abroad. Her adventures took her to France, Mongolia, Korea, New York and South America until she reached her current destination: Kiron. At Kiron, she represents the voice of the employees as a nominated member of Kiron’s new Works Council. Fran works to build relationships between Kiron and the corporate sector, enabling financial support for our students and bridging the gap between education and economy in order to ensure sustainable integration.
- Tell us about your journey
I grew up in a small town in Germany but I started living abroad from an early age and ever since then I have been influenced and shaped by different cultures, countries, languages and food. After finishing High School in Germany, I studied International Business Management in Berlin. In the course of my Bachelor’s I studied and worked abroad. I did a Summer School in Korea, worked for a Mongolian University, the German Embassy in Paris and even with Lufthansa in New York. Throughout all these different destinations and unique experiences, I have always realized how important it is to me to be able to work in an international field. Hence, I decided to go back to Paris and do my Master’s in Public Management. After completing my studies, I started working for the International Chamber of Commerce and after that for a Tech Startup, which was also about international mobility. Inspired by this sense of international and cultural exchange, I traveled to South America and came back to Germany to spend my summer in Berlin, where I found Kiron. Kiron’s concept and values convinced me to stay!
- What is your Role at Kiron?
I am a Corporate Relations Manager, which means that I am responsible for the cooperation with corporate partners. We are trying to establish relations with companies and actors in the private field and I am their contact point. It is, of course, also about raising funds for Kiron, since corporate partners are an important source of revenue for us as an NGO. However, it is about much more than just financial partnerships, it is about enabling an active dialogue with actors from different sectors and the economy. Kiron is at the forefront of many things, not only digital education. In the long-term perspective, Kiron is about integrating refugees in the labor market. Kiron’s concept brings everything together –technology, the labor market, education, refugees, universities… We have an innovative concept and interesting program that can be very efficient and effective. But, of course, we also need somebody who lobbies for us – so we need partners who believe in us and our corporate partners have a strong voice. Also, Kiron offers specific programs for corporates. For instance, our mentoring program matches students with employees. The program is about intercultural exchange, but it is also about helping our students with specific questions when it comes to integration. The company and mentors benefit from this active exchange with refugees and the program builds a bridge between the labor market and Kiron students.
In addition to my role as a Corporate Relations Manager, I am excited to have recently been elected as a works council member in our newly founded Kiron Works Council. It is very rare for a young startup to have a Works Council and I believe that it is something we can be very proud of. In such a rapidly growing organization where everything is changing very fast, I was motivated to become part of the Council because I believe that we need to stay committed and focused on positive change. We are all very engaged and motivated individuals and we just have to ensure that every voice is represented. I think it is an honor to be one of the voices speaking up for our Kironistas.
- What is your Mission for Kiron?
My ideal vision would be to help our student base grow and to help to get many more into higher education. Not only in the countries that we are currently working in, but all over the world. For me, it is about setting up partnerships with more universities and eventually having universities adapt their system to be more open to new ways and opportunities for education. The university landscape is changing, but it is still very much operating in the public sphere and therefore is slow to adapt to new models. We are providing a catalyst for change.
- Kiron means to me…
For me Kiron represents hopes and dreams, it is a dream enabler. All my life I have been able to have amazing opportunities that have been open to me because I had the luck to be born into a family in Western Europe. I am not more intelligent than anyone else, certainly not braver, but people, with the same capacities that I have do not have the same opportunities and that is heartbreaking! I really hope that other people have the chance of the same safe and prosperous life that I have. So, for me Kiron means, to offer support to somebody who has to restart from scratch and to give back hope. It is all about dreams, because having dreams is good but helping to realize dreams is even better!
- What are the challenges you are facing?
When you decide to work for an NGO, you know from the beginning that you do not do this for money or a to have a regular 9-to-5 job – you accept this because you are committed and you really believe in the values of the organization. So, I think that my private life does suffer from it, but at the same time I enjoy the great opportunity of working with many other committed people, who share the same values. In my daily work the challenges are, that since the stream of refugees has gone down in 2017 this has, to a certain extent, affected the motivation to support refugees. Nevertheless the need for financing and support has of course not decreased. Hence, it is a challenge to find new partners and enable long-term support and sustainable partnerships.
- What do you enjoy most about your work?
The people I work with, that includes our students, my colleagues and partners. I work with people who have an amazing sense of humor. That is also something I highly value. There has not been a single day where somebody did not make me laugh.
- What was your favorite moment at Kiron so far?
A couple of weeks ago we managed to get a grant from a new corporate partner that I was preparing for with the Tech team. The day after we received it, our CTO called me and asked me to come over. I did not really know why he called me and it took me by surprise when the whole team suddenly thanked me in a speech and gave me a bottle of Champagne, with my name and the name of the grant on it. Another very special moment was during the preparation of the Merkel visit, when I heard the students speak with so much conviction and self-confidence that really touched me. I was really proud that I was doing what I was doing at this moment.
- Describe yourself in own sentence:
I am an optimist who likes to laugh. One could say, a fake French girl with English humor.
- What do you like to do in your free time?
Especially in the summer, I like to get up early and see the sunrise, go running and watch the city wake up.
- Some last words for Kiron…
People need to realize that we work with super talented individuals who were deprived of education and we help them to find a way back. Just like us, they share similar hopes and dreams, but with more courage than we all have, so I have a lot of respect for our students!