Our Senior Project Manager Lunia Hara presented her story when she spoke at JobSlam, which was part of the 7th STICKS&STONES job fair. She talked about the immigrant background she shared with the other successful global talents – in her case Zambia – as well as her first impressions of Germany and her day-to-day working life at NOLTE&LAUTH.

After the presentations – which include 100 eminent employers such as Adidas, IKEA and McKinsey & Company annually – there was a great response from attendees who had all sorts of questions. We followed up with Lunia to find out about her impressions of the day:

Julia: Hi Lunia. Thanks so much for your fascinating presentation on Saturday. Have you ever given a presentation about your journey through life before?

Lunia: Thanks! I’m glad to hear it. I’ve never given this kind of presentation in a business context before. That was a debut for me.

Julia: How did you feel?

Lunia: Preparing for the presentation was a great experience and a challenge at the same time. On the one hand you have the Pecha Kucha method, which requires exactly 20 slides, 20 seconds each, for the entire presentation. On the other hand, I was dealing with my past and the achievements I’ve worked so hard for. I’m now more aware that I can be proud of what I’ve achieved despite numerous obstacles. I mentally patted myself on the back (laughs).

Julia: So what was it like for you to talk about your home and how you came to Germany?

Lunia: I actually got very emotional, it was moving. I usually live very much in the here and now, and I’m used to always looking straight ahead. At the same time, you unfortunately forget some things from the past, what it was actually like, especially the problems, which I’m now recalling.

Julia: What’s your relationship with your home like? Do you go back often?

Lunia: Yes, my parents still live there, and I fly back to Zambia every year. It’s also very important to me that my children see where part of their roots are.

Julia: Did you get the chance to meet the other speakers?

Lunia: Yes, after the presentations we sat down together and had a drink. We discovered some parallels.

Julia: Like what?

Lunia: Rus Vorobyev’s presentation dealt with the issue of what “really” matters in life. A cool job at a high-powered agency? Family, leisure time, hobbies, etc.? I think everyone has to figure this out for themselves.

Julia: After the presentations there was a question-and-answer session with the attendees. What did you talk about?

Lunia: At first I wasn’t sure whether I should bring up the issue of family planning and career. And it was exactly that issue that got plenty of response and praise, which was pleasing, of course.

Julia: Did people also ask you questions?

Lunia: Yes. For example, how to deal with failure in your job.

Julia: And how do you handle it? Or has it never happened to you?

Lunia: Oh no, it certainly has. Failure is never pleasant. What’s important is the perspective you gain in retrospect. I always try to learn something from failures. And sometimes you have to admit your own mistakes and accept them. Failure can often bring about something positive and better in the future. In my presentation I also talked about life’s ups and downs. Everyone experiences these in life. What’s important is to trust in the fact that if you take action, things will eventually pick up again. It’s in your own hands.

Julia: So everyone’s career is in their own hands. Then to what extent are events like JobSlam useful?

Lunia: I think these kinds of events are very productive, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken part. Someone I know recommended me because of my life story. At a time when so many refugees are coming to Germany without parents, I see certain parallels with my own biography. I was ten years old when I came from Zambia to Berlin in the dead of winter and moved in with my older sister. I was completely on my own – no parents, no role models and no mentors to tell me “do it this way”. I listened to Roland Kaiser songs and sung along to learn German. So you could say that my path in life is the result of “learning by doing” – and, sure, when I look back, it all turned out great. But perhaps if I’d had more assistance I would have taken a completely different path in life, at least a slightly easier path.

Julia: So you took part to inspire others?

Lunia: Yes. I do think it can be inspiring to people with similar backgrounds. But overall the message of my story so far is simply that you can reach your goals in the face of adversity if you can cope with the detours and not let anything hold you back.

Julia: Your life story certainly is remarkable! Thank you for your presentation at JobSlam!

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