Hanna Wieten has been the Managing Director at Delitelabs since 2018. Her role encompasses a little bit of everything – from business development to fundraising to developing learning journeys to delivering the training. We spoke to Hanna about her passion and purpose, her journey to Delitelabs, and what it takes to build inclusion.
Discovering a passion for change, innovation & inclusion
While working as a program manager at a university in the Netherlands, Hanna found a passion for innovation. She went on to complete an MsC BA at TIAS School for Business and Society, where she wrote her thesis on design thinking and creativity. She also spent some time as a professional horse trainer in the Netherlands and the US. Clearly, Hanna thrives through change.
“I’ve made a few shifts in my career, and it helped me in my own personal growth,” she says. “I feel privileged that I’ve been able to make these shifts and although not always easy it almost feels like I can live several lives in one lifetime and that’s something I find pretty awesome. In a way, it also helps me a lot to relate to participants at Delitelabs at least to the part of having to start over. I think it definitely helps me to be able to support others.”
Today, as the Managing Director at Delitelabs, Hanna is passionate about using entrepreneurship to invest in and empower newcomers. She explains, “I talk about entrepreneurship as a life skill, that’s how I experienced it myself and what I see happening around me in our community. Whether it’s starting a business, making a career shift, or living in a new country, when you have to start from scratch, entrepreneurial skills and mindset are very useful and effective for those situations.”
Using experiential learning to experience inclusion
Inclusion is not something that can be learned from textbooks and theory. Delitelabs programs are based on experiential learning, allowing participants to “actively experience the value of inclusion in an immersive way,” Hanna reveals.
Experiential learning is essentially the process of learning by doing. It is an engaging, hands-on learning methodology that empowers learners to tap into their creativity and communication skills, immediately apply their new skills and knowledge, give and receive feedback in real-time, and continuously reflect on their new learnings and growth.
Using experiential learning, Delitelabs enables its participants to challenge themselves by discovering new perspectives and collaborating with other newcomers from across cultures.
“Inclusion doesn’t come from one group. Everyone involved in the system needs to take ownership of their own part when it comes to creating a more inclusive society,” Hanna adds.
I talk about entrepreneurship as a life skill, that’s how I experienced it myself and what I see happening around me in our community. Whether it’s starting a business, making a career shift, or living in a new country, when you have to start from scratch, entrepreneurial skills and mindset are very useful and effective for those situations
Taking a peek behind the curtain: Walking the talk within Delitelabs
As an organization that advocates for diversity & inclusion, it’s important that Delitelabs also practices inclusion within its team. For Hanna, “Inclusion starts with recognizing that we’re all different – and that can be challenging, but it can also bring a lot if we address it in the right way. I think it’s important to have a diverse team because we work in a very international community.”
In practice, this means being aware of the language used, the cultural habits among the team, holding space for each other, working in a flexible structure, and giving everyone the chance to explore and be the best version of themselves. While diverse teams are also important, Hanna says, “Inclusion is not only about people who look different and have different beliefs. It’s very much about having an inclusive mindset.”
When it comes to the future of Delitelabs, Hanna’s excitement is palpable. She recently returned to her role from maternity leave, saying, “I now need to balance work with taking care of my little one and I love doing that. It puts me back into the central question of ‘Why am I doing this?’”
“Now, coming back and rebuilding the team is also very exciting, especially because the past years have been quite challenging as we’re a rather small organization so a lot of the responsibility was always with me. But now, I love that I can start sharing some of this responsibility,” she adds. “I’m full of energy to create new opportunities. I really feel like there are many opportunities where we would like to work on and there are a lot of possibilities. It feels a little bit like a fresh start for me and that brings a lot of good energy.”
At Delitelabs we are always open to finding synergies with volunteers and collaborators that are looking for a place where they can contribute in a meaningful and concrete way to building a more inclusive society. If you are passionate about inclusion and wish to make a real contribution, reach out to us.
Written by Sophie Poulsen - Content Creator at Delitelabs