6 of 7) Vienna, Austria


In Vienna, Austria, presenting “Gender Diversity in the Board Room: Organizational Trends by Region” at The Fourteenth International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, hosted by the Vienna University of Economics.

Fact about the presentation:  Norway has the most representation of women in their boardrooms.

Country Manufacturing as a % of GDP (Rank of seven countries): 18.5%, 2nd out of 7 (OECD stats)

Country’s most Important Industries:  textiles and machinery

WWII fact: After WWI, Austria used the name “The Republic of German-Austria” to identify itself, until Germany outlawed it.  Germany eventually “annexed” Austria and took it for its own during the leadup to WWII.

I’ll be presenting in the morning session.

On to Vienna.  Vienna is the capital of Austria and is the cradle of classical music  The city center is skyscraper-free and very pedestrian-friendly city.  It has an unbelievable musical legacy which includes Mozart and Bethoven who made names for themselves there.  This is the second consecutive city I’ve traveled that call themselves a different name than the rest of the world.  The locals of Florence, Italy call (and spell) the city Firenze and the locals of Vienna call (and spell) the city Wien.  

Vienna feels very much like a progressive city.  Everything is more spread out like typical American cities.  The infrastructure is very modern and I didn’t see any potholes.  I bought a round-trip ticket from the airport to the central district of the city via their City Airport Train (CAT), which was very clean, comfortable, and fast.  It had televisions advertising some upcoming city events, and most importantly, it didn’t make stops in-between the destination (below).


The conference was at the Vienna University of Economics campus.  All of the buildings were constructed in the past 3 years.  While we in America suffer through decreased state budgets for higher education, Vienna is seeing massive amounts of increased investments from their government.

Vienna University of Economics- modern building.
Vienna University of Economics- modern building. They were designed by different architects (as you can tell).
As a mayor-appointed commissioner for the City of TH Human Relations commission, I was able to represent that group and will be reporting back to them at our next meeting.

City of Terre Haute Human Relations Commission

“Valuing Diversity and Promoting Harmony Among All People”
To lead Terre Haute in building an inclusive community by:

– Enforcing the Human Rights ordinance.
– Empowering the community to eliminate barriers to equality.
– Educating the public about rights and responsibilities regarding   discrimination
The Human Relations Commission is staffed by an Executive Director and maintains an office at 1101 S. 13th St., Terre Haute.
If you are experiencing discrimination, you may want to gain more information about your rights. Commission staff is available to answer your questions in confidentiality and arrange a complaint intake, if you wish.
If you are an employer, landlord, realtor, educator, or anyone trying to eliminate discrimination issues and promote diversity in the community, the Commission staff can answer your questions and offer consulting or training.
Presenting at the conference.
These are the other presenters in our themed sessions discussing Gender diversity.

The city of Vienna has done much to promote diversity and to integrate the new groups of citizens in to the fabric and culture of its city.

A conference session from a City of Vienna employee. There was much insight gained from their city’s diversity and integration efforts, which will be in the report to the Human Relations Commission.
The city’s diversity administration is broken up by the following departments:  1) Gender, 2) LGBT, 3) Age, and 4) Migration.  They have a workshop for new migrants in to their community.

Without a doubt, a key ingredient to attracting Viennese foreign investment has been through workforce education and through retraining efforts directed towards in-demand sectors, spearheaded by regional campuses and technical colleges.  Vienna has excellent technical colleges and programs designed to provide workforce training.  The City gov’t has taken the lead on many of these initiatives.  There is no such thing as a “skills gap” in Austria.  The technical training and specialized jobs have plenty of applicants.  The advanced manufacturing jobs available in their multinational factories have plenty of trained, qualified workers.  Factory executives from other areas in Europe know this, and are more apt to steer production operations to Vienna because they know that the jobs will get filled.  This cultural trait helps the overall economy.  The City government facilitates with this collaboration.

This is the Hofburg Palace, former residency of the rulers of the Habsburg dynasty and Austro-Hungrian Empire. It’s the current home of the Austrian President and is over 1,000 years old.
My guide, a fellow Freemason, showed me some hidden Masonic sites and some historical public sites around the central area of the city.
Well, well, well. His Masonic Temple is hidden within a passage of the Hofburg Palace.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral

I was able to tour the Augarten Porcelain Manufactory.  It’s the second oldest porcelain factory in Europe and was originally chartered by Emperor Charles VI so the company could produce porcelain for the Royal Family.  They currently have 60 employees, including 15 painters and 15 production employees.  They actually closed down from 1864 due to the technological advancement of mass-producing porcelain and thus undercutting them in price, but were re-opened in 1924 with a new strategy for hand-crafted, artistic styles.  It takes 3 years of apprenticeship to become a full-fledged employee, but the company doesn’t hire an apprentice if a regular job won’t be available in the future.  This apprentice-model of learning technical skillsets is very common among the Germanic people.  The company doesn’t utilize lasers in their production, since the public wouldn’t accept the title of manufactory.  They didn’t allow for taking pictures of workers.





 Augarten Porcelain Manufactory

A nice change of pace involved attending a Metallica concert at their Krieau Rocks venue.  I met up with some lively kids from Slovakia on the way to the show and they were really cool and nice enough to allow me to hang out with them during the show.  The crowd looked pretty much the same as a crowd during an American Metallica concert.  It’s when they talked that the differences became apparent.  Austria has a cultural tendency to gravitate towards this genre of music, and it was a blast.  The venue’s acoustics were excellent but the ground was rocks rather than the grassy, picnic-y setting of most American venues.  The vendors were impossible to access as well.  Otherwise it was lots of fun.

Met with some guys who made the trip from Slovakia who I hung out with at the concert.



I was again able to attend a Rotary club meeting.  Their meetings during the summer take place at different cultural places in the area.  This one was at a local art studio.  The artists were unveiling a new art campaign, which was supported by Rotary.  You can access a pdf of the description here:  Floating Rock

An artist who hosted the Rotary meeting at his art studio showing us his new art campaign.
The meeting lasted about 3 hours and we had a great time.
My host Norbert, who previously worked in Silicon Valley. He looks like a cross between WWE wrestler John Cena and local sportscaster Jason Pensky.
The traditional Rotarian exchanging of flags.
Lots of wine was drank and the artists passed out some renditions of their art for us to keep as a souvenir.

Again, soccer (football) was a focus of the trip.  I expected the crowds for the Germany/Brazil “match” to be very pro-Germany, since Austrians speak German.  However, I soon found that many Austrians have a bit of a rivalry with Germany and don’t necessarily have the most warm feelings toward them.  There were actually more citizens that rooted against Germany than for Germany.  From what I understand, this is due to a history of feeling like the little brother to German dominance.  While many of the cultural variables are the same, Austria has often been overpowered by German might, whether it be economic or military power.  It was lots of fun to take part in these cultural festivities and the game was an absolute blowout- Germany won 7-1, which is the equivalent of an American football score of 64-3.

A venue where Brazil fans got together. They were not in good spirits as the evening progressed.

The next night went in to penalty kicks and unfortunately the Dutch went down.

I stumbled upon a Latin American-themed Socialism restaurant, where many Argentinian fans gathered to root for their team against Holland.
All around a very good conference.
information about the conference can be found here

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