All posts by anoukpappers

Christa Dowling - Cultural Communication Advisor

Borders are in our heads – Christa Dowling

Not too long ago, I had just arrived from abroad and wanted to share some time with Christa Dowling. We were sitting in a Café overlooking the Hudson River; it was a cold but sunny day. The air was crystal clear and the waves were bobbing up and down in the chilly wind. We were comfortable inside.

Christa had just remarked “borders are in our head.”

I asked her “what do you mean? “

“You travel much and see the world. In many ways we create our own reality yet it seems through our advanced technology we are forced to reach out to the world all the time, saying we have hundreds of friends, yet if we are fortunate we might have five or six.”

Christa Dowling - Cultural Communication Advisor

“Yes, but this does not answer my question.”

“No it does not; I am just setting the stage. Defining my answer I would need to go a bit further. Making friends takes time, effort and thoughtfulness. Yet, all the people I have ever been lucky enough to meet have much in common. Let us start with respect for one another; it matters not what nationality, creed or religion. The other important part is education and the curiosity to learn. Life is learning about all these great gifts … gifts we were born with.”

“You mean to say life is a patchwork…like a quilt.”

“Yes, indeed it is how we weave this patchwork of experience into a whole picture. As life demands we need to be authentic, true to oneself…to make sense of reality.”

“What has influenced you to have come to this insight?”

“Oh, I do not mean to sound pretentious, just contemplative. One was the encouragement by my parents…to learn…to know what you know…no one can take it away. I have also been fortunate to have been exposed to some great learned people. My assignments as a writer or editor-in-chief has given me the chance to experience many parts of the world. These assignments in Germany, Italy , Africa, Israel , Egypt or Brazil have always mirrored this feeling of ‘there are no borders’.”

“How do you see these experiences today?’

“In ways these many experiences have also helped to formulate a work ethics which I am talking about today. My purpose is building bridges for a better understanding between people…in art and commerce. For example it takes funding to present music or art, in any form. The thought is that art, in dance, in music enriches people’s lives. Music has a language of its own …and no borders. “

“Tolerance would be part of this thinking?”

“Yes, very much so. It comes with the territory! I remember being in Gambia, West Africa…and was watching people drumming their drums in a musical discord to my ears. Small ones and very large ones…and all of a sudden their drumming rhythm fell into a harmonious sound. It was as if the language they used…from different parts of the African continent… had one sound of joy and finding ways to speak in a common language of music. The language of human need for love, shelter. It was very moving.”

“Now …I feel to understand your remark, your contemplation. Thank you for sharing it.”


Tags: Christa Dowling, Christa, Christa Dowling, Connecting Officer, Cool Brands, Cool Brands Women, CoolBrands, CoolBrandsWomen, Cultural Communication Advisor, Connector, #ChristaDowling

Merrie Frankel - Minerva New York

‘Achiever by Trade, Educator by Vision’ – Merrie Frankel


We’re on our way to the New York Stock Exchange, undisputed financial heart of the world, to meet Merrie Frankel. More than just a trading floor, the iconic building on Wall Street represents a rich heritage, celebrates the will to achieve and pursue opportunities.

The location couldn’t be more fitting: Merrie’s financial expertise spans six careers: she has worked as a tax attorney, investment banker and REIT analyst for companies ranging from Salomon Brothers to Moody’s. She now serves as a board director for Agree Realty. Quite an impressive line-up, testimony to her unique approach not only in the financial sector, but the business arena in general.

We decide to get some coffee first, so that we can learn more about her, and how she came to be where she is today.

” You should never stop learning: all the knowledge you acquire is valuable, you just have to learn to use it correctly and apply it to each situation. ”

She has vast experience in a wide range of fields, having been involved in many projects and industries. Merrie explains: “Everything I’ve done has brought me new insights, new expertise. So when I’m faced with a new issue or project, I move from the general to the specific. I sort through what I know, filter what I need for the specific task at hand, and find solutions that are prompted by a  diverse background. I get things into the funnel and make them work.”

She speaks with enthusiasm and fire, expresses herself easily but thoughtfully.

“I’m eager to learn, but I’m also eager to share. This is a connected world, one of intertwining circles. Many people have the tendency to silo themselves off, but I’m thoroughly convinced that communication is key. Interaction enriches.”

With Merrie, it doesn’t seem to be a matter of either/or: her approach is direct and goal-oriented, but she also takes the time to gather information and form a balanced opinion. She gathers information and shares it, but also integrates it into a fact pattern.

“It’s like a puzzle – ultimately it’s about putting the pieces together. Professionally, it’s no different. You have to enjoy what you do, be good at what you do, combine the pieces, and bring things to a resolution.”

As we walk to the steps, she smiles and says, “I just thought of something. You asked me about the beginning of my career. When I was a kid, I had an ice-cream business by the Atlantic City shore with three carts, selling  ice-cream sandwiches and other goodies for a quarter each. I think that sparked the flame.”



Tags: Merrie Frankel, meeting Merrie Frankel, #MerrieFrankel, Female board director, AGREE Realty, Minerva consulting, AGREE Realty corporation, REIT expert, finance expert

Janice Reals Ellig Co-CEO Chadick Ellig

“Women on boards, a strategic business imperative” – Janice Reals Ellig

Janice has been an advocate of Women on Boards for many years. We’re discussing with her why this is not a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘need to have’.

“Janice, Chadick Ellig strongly values gender parity – especially in the boardroom. Besides talking and writing about it, you’re actually doing something to change it.”

Janice Reals Ellig Co-CEO Chadick Ellig

Janice Reals Ellig Co-CEO Chadick Ellig

“Absolutely! Women constitute half of the global population and in the U.S. influence over 80% of purchasing decisions. Yet less than 20% of the approximately 4,500 S&P 500 board seats are currently held by women. Furthermore, ‘less than 3%’ – i.e. 30 companies of the Fortune 1000 – have 40% or more women on their boards. That is a dismal statistic. That is why, as founder and chair of the Corporate Board Initiative for the Women’s Forum of New York, we proposed a goal of reaching gender parity on S&P 500 boards by 2025. That is my personal mission and I am honored to work with many CEOs to make that goal a reality.

“When I was President of the Women’s Forum of New York, I started the Corporate Board Initiative and our signature event, the biennial Breakfast of Corporate Champions in 2011, where we honored those companies with 20% or more women on boards. With an outstanding panel of CEOs – who spoke about the strategic business imperative to achieve gender parity on boards – momentum began to build. These CEOs sponsored board-ready women for the Women’s Forum Database to build the pipeline and help accelerate the number of women on boards. Enlightened CEOs and their boards know gender parity – a more balanced board – means better corporate governance, better decision-making. They know more women in the boardroom, and the C-Suite speaks to their key stakeholders – employees, customers, shareholders and communities.

“Given the global landscape and need to remain competitively relevant, corporate CEOs and boards cannot afford to ignore half the population – especially with the rich pipeline of highly qualified women available for board positions.

“Research studies done by Catalyst, Credit Suisse Research Institute, Deloitte, McKinsey and most recently, EY/Peterson Institute, show a strong correlation between significantly higher financial performance with more women on the board. Putting women in the boardroom and C-suite is not just ‘a nice thing to do’, it is good for business and shareholder value!

“Yet, while we hear a lot about the benefits of having more women on corporate boards, the majority of boards, 97%, do not have parity. Focused and committed board leadership can make parity a reality within the decade. And compared to many countries, the U.S. is lagging – tied in 10th place with Australia – for the percentage of women on boards. We are the United States of America: a world power. We should not be trailing – we should be trailblazing.”

Janice Ellig and Susan Chadick - Chadick Ellig search firm

One of my favorite quotes: “We put a man on the moon… we should be able to put women on boards.” – Deanna Mulligan, CEO, Guardian (November 2013 Breakfast of Corporate Champions, sponsored by the Women’s Forum of New York)

To contact Janice:

Tags: Janice Ellig, Janice, Ellig, Co-CEO Chadick Ellig, WBE, Women’s Business Enterprise, Chadick Ellig, executive search, executive search firm New York, Boutique search firm, IIC Partners, #JaniceEllig, #ChadickEllig, Janice Reals Ellig, #JaniceRealsEllig, Reals Ellig, #leadership, #boardroom, #corpboards, CoolBrands Women

Susan Chadick Co-CEO Chadick Ellig

“The human angle remains key” – Susan Chadick

We’re in New York, talking to Susan Chadick about changes in the search industry. Technology is one of the big changes, so we’re asking Susan where she thinks her industry is heading towards.

How do you see the role of technology in your industry?

Technology is an important tool, but the human angle is key. Although technology has certainly made our work easier and has leveled the playing field between the big and boutique firms, it is still just a tool.

Susan Chadick - Chadick Advisors

Susan Chadick – Chadick Advisors

When it comes to assessing candidates in light of our client’s needs and culture, the human angle is key. Technology allows us to gain more information and have deeper reach than ever before, but it can’t discern ‘chemistry’ and the magic that occurs when an individual is the right fit for a company.

Dating sites, for example, employ smart algorithms to produce a 100% match online. But this does not guarantee that the parties will actually fall in love.

We start with the raw data and match requirements with candidate experience, but go beyond these basics to broader traits to ascertain what these candidates bring to our client and whether or not they have the right profile, in terms of leadership, energy, communication style and interpersonal skills to be successful.

Technology can match basic skills and qualifications but is not yet a substitute for the time we spend and depth of conversation we have with candidates. Our skill is in assessing the individual, and then evaluating their potential to add value to our client and fit with their culture.

Technology has created a scenario where candidates, too, are inundated with a tremendous amount of information. Our role is to share our client’s story, understand their strategy and be their champion in the marketplace. We go beyond the data broadly available, to an honest portrait of what a candidate can expect in our client’s environment, and what our client is hoping to achieve by making this critical hire.

The strong synergy that happens between people and companies that allows for both corporate and personal growth is what we do best. So far, technology has not been able to match our capabilities.

Susan Chadick - co-CEO Chadick Ellig search firm

To contact Susan:

Tags: Susan Chadick, Susan, Chadick, Susan L Chadick, WBE, Women’s Business Enterprise, executive search, executive search firm New York, IIC Partners, #SusanChadick, Technology, CoolBrands Women, Chadick Advisors

Candida Romero - Patron of the Arts

Patron of the Arts – meeting Candida Romero

Having landed in Paris, I stroll through the vibrant 6th arrondissement towards the atelier of Candida Romero – artist, restoration expert, convent owner and creator of the fragrance Eau de Couvent. Once there, surrounded by huge artworks, I drink coffee with this inspiring artist and entrepreneur, curious to know more about what has become her mission: ‘Couvent San Francescu’. By restoring the ruins of this enormous convent on the French island of Corsica, Candida has created an extraordinary destination for art and culture aficionados. She enthuses: “I restored the convent with all my heart, and now I am ready to start sharing it with like-minded people. I believe that, together, we can create more beautiful things and develop projects that change the way we see things. Everything I stand for converges in the concept I have devised for the convent. In short: The beauty of the soul.”

‘I want San Francescu Convent to become a sanctuary for artists, musicians, actors, dancers and creative minds from all over the world’ – Candida Romero


Tell us a little about your background…

I have a rather unusual background – mostly thanks to my parents, who were both artists, and the upbringing and values they gave me. My father is American but comes from Puerto Rico and is a borrinque (Indian Carribe/Taïno) . My mother is a Parisian with roots from Gasconny the southwest of France and is a bourgeoise.

You also grew up in a rather extraordinary place…

Yes, La Ruche, an artists’ residence in the Montparnasse district, which is still in existence today. ‘The Beehive’, as it’s known in English, was originally built as a temporary wine rotunda for the Exposition Universelle of 1900. But it ended up becoming a haven for some of the great 20th-century artists: Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine, Brancusi,Fernand Léger, Brancusi, the poets Blaise Cendrars (there is a poeme he wrote called La Ruche) and Max Jacob– to name but a few – either lived or worked there. It was an incredible place to grow up in, amongst all these artists and free spirits. That explains my bohemian nature. I’m sure that my youth in La Ruche inspired me to develop the community concept that I’m now creating in the Convent.


You do so many different things. Is there a common thread between them all?

Yes, it’s actually very clear to me. In the deepest depths of my soul, I’m an artist. Everything I do is an expression of who I am: I live and breathe art. And because I’m a free spirit who isn’t constrained by conventions, I encounter opportunities in life. Everything comes naturally…

Tell us more about your art…

Art is like religion to me. It also needs an environment that is calm and peaceful. And from within that space, I create what I call ‘love stories’. They are based on things that have either happened to me, that I’ve been told about by someone close, or that I’ve read. Creativity is everything. It keeps you alive. It saves you from being sick – or sad. And it stops you from falling into despair.

Read more about Candida’s vision on ‘Couvent San Francescu’.

Tags: Meeting Candida Romero, Patron of the Arts, Candida Romero, Candida, Couvent San Francescu, founder eaudecouvent, eaudecouvent, CoolBrands People, CoolBrands Women, #CoolBrandsPeople, #CoolBrandsWomen, #CandidaRomero

Diego Bolson Ruzzarin - CEO Foodlosofia

Vision on Expo Milano – Diego Bolson Ruzzarin

I’m catching up with food design expert and CEO of Foodlosofia Diego Ruzzarin who is busy preparing his contribution to the Milan World Expo 2015. Currently running in the northern Italian city until 31 October, its theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. Something close to Diego’s heart. At the expo, Diego is sharing his vision at the Mexican pavilion which has the theme ‘Mexico. The Seed for the New World: Food, Diversity and Heritage’. I’m curious to find out more.

Diego Bolson Ruzzarin - CEO Foodlosofia

Diego Bolson Ruzzarin – CEO Foodlosofia


Firstly, what exactly is the Milan World Expo?

Expo Milano 2015 focuses on two aspects of food production: the traditional and the use of new technologies. While both may seem opposing, they’re very much interconnected. The expo provides a great opportunity for industry players to meet and exchange ideas. It’s also part of a cultural journey that aims to highlight the critical changes to our planet that are impacting the entire population.

What’s your mission there?

We’re launching our new book Mexico Food and Design which uniquely establishes a link between eating habits and creative disciplines. It’s best described as a ‘house of mirrors’ in which 20 different subjects about food are explored from different angles: not only from the perspective of food itself, but also architecture, sculpture, music and other creative disciplines. Our aim is to show the world that there’s more to Mexico than just culinary culture: we hope to achieve this by examining non-stereotypical thinking and by creating new archetypes.

Non-stereotypical thinking?

Yes, this is something we need to promote. Mexico is famous for several reasons, food being an important one. Mention Mexico and people automatically think of corn, tacos and tequila… However, this ‘postcard’ image is no longer reflective of the true culture. In a way, the country has dug its own grave by keeping this image alive for so long, purely to attract tourists. Mexico has become a victim of the ‘single story’ phenomenon; something that is true for many countries, by the way. We want our book to be the start of creating a new heritage for the country; to show the modern creative Mexico.

Creating new archetypes?

We’ve developed new archetypes like the taco, aka ‘the new burger’. The world is changing from macroplastic (think: McDonald’s burgers) to micro-craft (think: hand-made, no plastic, no cutlery, you eat everything with your hands). This is because it’s no longer only about food: it’s also about respecting the planet. By eating everything and doing away with cutlery and packaging, there’s no waste. These days, people care more and more about how food is made, what ingredients are used and how – or if – it’s packaged.

Mexico is great for street food.

Yes, food culture in Mexico goes way beyond gastronomy. While there’s poverty in Mexico – and also obesity – there’s also an incredible culture and heritage of street food. In fact, Mexico is a reference for street food and later, food trucks. A trend that has since been picked up in other Central and Latin American countries and is now becoming increasingly popular in the US and Europe. Chefs are taking the pleasure of eating back onto the streets.

Mexico is good at developing new concepts, I believe.

Yes, Mexicans are especially ingenious when it comes to food, design and entrepreneurship. If we combine the right ideas with the right people and communicate in a new way, we can show the world how rich the food culture is – and how it offers so much more than gastronomy. In fact, food plays an integral part in every aspect of Mexican culture: food is Mexico’s ambassador.

Tags: Meeting Diego Bolson Ruzzarin, #DiegoRuzzarin, #Foodlosofia, Foodlosofia, Milan Expo 2015, design thinking, design thinker, food design, food design thinker, food design thinking, CoolBrands People, #CoolBrandsPeople, Diego, Diego B. Ruzzarin, Diego Bolson, food design center, food innovation, human centered design


Aldina Duarte Ramos - Wellness Expert

Meeting Aldina Duarte Ramos – The democracy of wellness

After studying five languages and political science, with ambitions to be an interpreter for the UN, Portuguese-born Aldina Duarte Ramos’ career took a sharp turn. For more than 15 years, Aldina has inhabited the wellness industry.

First working for Le Bristol Paris, then Anne Semonin, and then Sofitel Luxury Hotels – creating and implementing spa concepts worldwide en route. Now director of Global WellBeing Product Luxury & Upscale Brands at AccorHotels and president of the French federation of wellness professionals SPA-A, Aldina has become a respected thought leader on wellness. She feels the industry has reached a critical time as new wellness trends emerge to counteract the stress of digital life. And she’s on a mission: the democratisation of wellness. She believes, everyone – no matter how rich or poor – has a right to a healthy life. I meet this inspiring change maker at the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg, in the heart of the city, to learn about her mission. And find out more about her adrenaline-fuelled personal motto: doing and sharing.

‘In an increasingly stressful society, wellness is the way forward’ – Aldina Duarte Ramos

Why democratise wellness?

Democratising wellness is crucial. It should be accessible for everyone – not just high-end consumers. Everybody has a right to a healthy life.

However, the responsibility for implementing this vision is also everybody’s. That means lobbying governments, tackling issues like Monsanto and the meat industry and so forth, as well as making good food available – and affordable – for everyone. And this needs to happen now. We can’t postpone it any longer.

How are you working towards this vision?

In my role as president of SPA-A and chair of ISO ST02 Wellness Tourism in France, I’m busy sharing my knowledge, research and vision on how we can all best work towards a new balance, taking the 4 wellness pillars into account. And of course, at ground-level by working with chefs and nutritionists in our hotels who all play a part in creating a holistic approach towards wellness. Hopefully speaking opportunities will also afford me the chance to connect with the all-important younger generations. They’re the real change makers.

Tags: Aldina, Aldina Duarte Ramos, President SPA-A, Sofitel, SPA-A, Thalassa Sea&Spa, thought leader in wellness, wellness, wellness vision, wellness expert, CoolBrands People, #CoolBrandsPeople, CoolBrands Women, #CoolBrandsWomen, CoolBrands, #CoolBrands