Helping Women Build Relationships for Professional Success in Chile


In Chile, your success is dependent on the power of your relationships.

“We’ve realized that this is what we provide as an organization,” Marcela Diaz, co-president of IPWA Santiago said. “Every woman in the country has to work at this – whether you move to a new city or are local – there is no way you will succeed in any aspect of your life without relationships! It’s not like in the U.S. where you can show what you’ve done and get an interview. Here, relationships trump everything.”

Founded in 1996, International Professional Women’s Association (IPWA) Santiago uses English as the common language to bring together women of diverse professional and cultural backgrounds.

Marcela Diaz and Marian Hakze, co-presidents of IPWA Santiago.This February 2014, Marcela Diaz and Marian Hakze stepped up as co-presidents to lead this volunteer-run organization. They each bring a wealth of diverse professional experience, as well as an abundance of passion and big ideas for the organization that is evident when you speak with them.

“We want to see what the organization can be,” Marcela said, “the great benefit for women in the region.” The co-presidents have already tripled membership this year, and are focused on creating a more solid structure. They primarily communicate with members and potential members (450 women total) via their Facebook group.

IPWA holds monthly events for working or non-working career-minded woman, as well as a quarterly networking mixer. It’s an internationally diverse group that includes a lot of entrepreneurial women in Santiago. Guest speakers and events focus on different topics relevant to members, such as cultural differences, job hunting, and professional development.


Marcela is Chilean, and has spent the last 20 years working internationally in corporations, primarily in sales, communication, and business development. She has spent time in the tech industry, the consulting world, and lobbying in the mining industry. Now, she is focused on executive coaching and consulting, helping businesses with their web content, clear communication and branding.

Originally from the Netherlands, Marian spent the last 12 years in Mexico, Canada and Chile. She has spent 15 years in corporate environments as well as five years as an HR manager at a software company. Most of her professional experience was gained in the tech industry. She is a firm believer of community involvement and has contributed to all sorts of non-profit association in a variety of capacities, such as mentor, coach, teacher and board member. She is a new mom and is also getting her masters degree in Organizational Development and Leadership.

Marcela and Marian shared that their biggest challenge is the waves of women who come and go in Santiago. Securing steady growth and commitment in a volunteer run organization is hard because many of their members are expats. But this challenge is what also makes the organization so unique and dynamic. They are working hard to get the word out locally, securing good press coverage, marketing, building their own network and cultivating their big vision for what IPWA can be.

When Marian moved to Chile a year ago, she set out to join IPWA. “It is great for women, and great support, so I knew right away I wanted to be a part of organizing the community.”

Check out their group on Facebook and follow @IPWASantiago on Twitter.

Erin Risner

Director of Community Engagement

Writer. Creative. Brand Strategist. Content Curator. Social Media and Marketing Maven. Passionate about connecting with women around the world and telling their success stories.