Think Hub

Part 1: Birgit shares the lessons her mother taught her and how they’re still relevant in business today

Written by Robyn Blassoples · 2 min read >

Barry Blassoples Eventerprise VP of Growth, sat down with Birgit as part of a ‘Getting to know Birgit Thümecke’ Interview series.

Video Transcription

Barry B: In this video, we’re talking about diversity, inclusion, leadership and women in tech. With me today is Birgit Thumecke, tech company co-founder, investor, CEO, business strategist and Stevie award, winner. Welcome back Birgit.

Birgit Thumecke: Hello.

Barry B: I think it’s been a little while since our last track, our last video. And we’ve had plenty to keep us busy at the Eventerprise.

Birgit Thumecke: Absolutely.

Barry B: Before we get into the technical aspects and the strategies and the tactics one could deploy within an organization, to drive diversity and ensure inclusion. I wanted to just go a little bit into your story. More of your background.

Because I think it sets the context for at least part of the reason as to why these topics are so front of mind for you and you’re so passionate about them.

 And also what I think qualifies you to speak with authority on these matters.

Birgit Thumecke: Okay, thank you.

Barry B: So, if we go back to the beginning. You are a German-born to a German father and a South African mother?

Birgit Thumecke: That’s correct.

Barry B: South African mother who had to leave South Africa at that time in order to marry your father, because of course back then, that was illegal within the country for them to be together.

Birgit Thumecke: Yeah.

Barry B: Because she was a black woman or a 

Birgit Thumecke: A person of colour.

Barry B: A person of colour to put it in today’s terms. And so they moved to Germany, they married, they settled in a town where she is the only person of colour if I remember correctly?

Birgit Thumecke: Absolutely, yeah. She was the only person for a long, long time.

Barry B: And within that, fortunately for being a strong will, feisty woman, she, of course, adapted to the environment as she needed to.

Birgit Thumecke: Yeah.

Barry B: To raise you and your sister.

Birgit Thumecke: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Barry B: What I think is interesting out of that combination, that history is, and what I like to hear some more from on it from you, is what are the sort of values you believe she was able to instil in you and your sister within that environment? Given that history. That sort of set you up for a, let’s say, childhood or life or not feeling inferior, or not being afraid to live within that sort of environment.

Birgit Thumecke: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Barry B: In spite of the obvious challenges that would have come along with it.

Birgit Thumecke: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay so, my mother was a very unorthodox, totally not a fit-in person. That’s definitely a value that my sister and I have learned from her, to just be yourself. Just be true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not, don’t try to fit in too much. I mean, often I see people trying to fit in so badly, and they think they know what other people expect of them, and they try to mould themselves so they can please other people. But that’s a game you always lose. Because first of all, you don’t really know what other people expect of you. You can’t control their thoughts and how they feel about you.

So, I think authenticity is something that I learned from her. Then her feistiness, absolutely. Yeah, it’s actually a really nice term for my mother because she was super feisty. She just persevered. So perseverance, pushing through, doing what you believe is right against all odds. And the stakes were high at the time. As you mentioned, she had to leave South Africa in order to marry my father. They both met in Johannesburg, and then they had this illegal relationship for about seven years. They enjoyed their life in South Africa. If it wasn’t for apartheid, they would’ve probably never left the country.