Anja Wyden Guelpa – Changing the world is her passion

26. February 2019 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Anja Wyden Guelpa might come across a little confusing. On the one hand there is her cheerful nature and her natural charm that makes you like her right away. On the other hand, there is this power woman who studied political science at the Universities of Geneva in Switzerland and Tübingen in Germany, who holds a master’s degree in public management and who worked as project manager at the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and as consultant at IBM Business Consulting.

Anja Wyden Guelpa – elected State Secretary at just 36 years of age

In 2009, she was elected State Secretary in the canton of Geneva at the age of just 36. The Genevaers experienced real changes with her. Anja Wyden Guelpa is not a woman of words, she wants to see action, she wants to implement, she wants to get things done. Which she usually does. In Geneva, she made voting trendy again and inspired young people for politics and democracy. She also introduced online voting to Switzerland, a bug success to reach out to far more people. She remained loyal to her post until July 2018 when she decided to become a consultant and speaker.

In her lectures, she likes to share a story from her childhood in the Upper Valais in Switzerland to bring across her passion for change and innovation and engagement.

“My parents were hippies,” she begins her story with a smile, sharing childhood pictures on the sreen. What you see is a healthy looking, eight year old girl, dressed in a long flower skirt and blouse, standing in the middle of a flower meadow with the Swiss moutains in the background. She has a clasp in brown hair and her arms are crossed over her chest. Even at this young age, there is something determined about her.

Anja Wyden Guelpa political ambitions in childhood

Anja Wyden Guelpa narrates that she quite liked school at the time. However, she also liked climbing on trees to read one of her beloved books very much. As schoolchildren in Switzerland only had one day off a week back then, she felt that only one day off was clearly not enough. The balance between school and her other passion seemd unequal to her and she was determined to change it. So she asked her father how she could handle the problem. Her father explained Switzerland’s political system to her: the direct democracy, the referendums and initiatives. He gave her two options to choose from: on the one hand, she could start an initiative and promote her idea throughout Switzerland. As she was only eight years old, she would have had to wait ten years to carry it out, though. Not an option for the impatient young lady.The second option was to submit a petition with signatures from people who also supported the idea and to hand those in to the authorities. As this sounded a lot better to her, she went on voice hunting in the local pedestrian zone with her best friend. It all looked promising – until her girlfriend’s mother stopped those first political steps. She was worried about the political ambitions of her daughter and deducted her from the project. Somewhat frustrated, Anja continued to climb trees.

The event, even if it ended unsuccessfully, still laid the foundation for Anja Wyden Guelpas passion for democracy. On her career path, it quickly became apparent that something else was driving her: the joy of innovation and change.

With her company civicLab she advises companies and lectures on such important topics as innovation, change, leadership, motivation and success, social change, time- and stressmanagement, future trends or digital transformation. She is fluent in German, English and French.

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Anja Wyden Guelpa

Transformation, Innovation and Change Management Expert, Politics Speaker and Lateral Thinker