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Rising star, mentor, role model: Irina Dell on a mission for female empowerment
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Rising star, mentor, role model: Irina Dell on a mission for female empowerment

Kinga Bartczak
Irina Dell in action for female empowerment Article image2

Irina Dell came to Germany over 20 years ago to study business administration. The plan to then return home with the knowledge and experience she had gained came to nothing: as a student, she got to know and love her new home, her future husband and the auditing department at EY. Since then, she has had an impressive career and is passionate about helping young women.

Irina, when you arrived at Giessen UAS at a young age, you imagined your future very differently. Today we are talking to you as a partner, digital leader and mentor. What has happened in the meantime?

That’s right, everything went a little differently than planned. But sometimes you just have to dare to do it when you know it’s right, don’t you? It quickly became clear to me that I wanted to stay in Germany after my studies. Contact with EY’s auditing department was established during a workshop. I was enthusiastic about the content and the opportunities and joined EY’s Cologne office as an assistant after graduation. I have now been here for over 16 years and have actually been through all career stages. This also includes the fact that EY actively supported my development. In 2010, I passed the tax consultant exam with the time and financial support of my employer and my son was born soon after. During my parental leave, I prepared for the next step: the auditor exam.

Was career and family never an “either-or” for you?

I definitely wanted to have both, but at the same time I didn’t want to feel like a hamster in a wheel. That’s why I started working part-time after my parental leave, even though I was already a manager. That wasn’t a problem for anyone: my team knew when I was working and when I wasn’t and gave me their full support. I was encouraged to keep going and always felt I had the same opportunities as my male colleagues. Today, my son is a teenager, I’m a single parent and I’m working full-time again – but flexibility is still very important to me. And that’s what I get here.

In addition to your professional work, do you have a subject close to your heart?

Oh yeah. I am passionate about promoting women, both for my own colleagues and for female founders who want to grow. One of the reasons for this is that I myself had great mentors at all career levels at EY. If you want to achieve something, I think it’s important to learn from those who are already where you want to be. I have experienced that and that’s why I want to pass it on.

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Exciting! Can you tell us more about this? What kind of programs are these and what exactly do you do?

One is the “Woman Mentoring Program” in our auditing department. The motto is: “Empowered women empower women”. I accompany young female colleagues for an entire year as part of 1:1 mentoring sessions and work with them on a wide range of topics, such as improving their own visibility, building on strengths, promoting leadership skills or harmoniously combining career and family. I also let my colleagues look over my shoulder to give them an authentic insight into everyday life as a partner. The second program in which I am active is called “EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women”. This means that EY is also consciously investing in women who do not work for us – a great initiative, in my opinion. I have already been a mentor here three times and have supported female founders and entrepreneurs from various industries, for example as a sparring partner for business challenges or as an advisor for a wide range of career topics. Incidentally, I discovered triathlon about a year and a half ago and have since become a multiple Ironman finisher. I can also share many learnings from sport with my mentees.

Great, Irina. Have you seen any fruit ripening yet? And is that also your motivation to continue?

Definitely! It makes me incredibly proud when I see the development of the talents. I am always impressed by how the young female colleagues surpass themselves. It is the same with the female entrepreneurs: Some have discovered additional lines of business, others have broadened their product portfolio after mentoring and expanded into the international market. Of course it’s nice when I can inspire and encourage others. Ultimately, however, it is not the career path that someone has taken that inspires, but rather the person who has taken it. That’s why it’s so incredibly important for me to meet my fellow human beings with open ears, flexibility, trust and at eye level. So I can be the best role model. And of course I also benefit from this myself: I get to know real power women from whom I can also learn. I remain very close to many of them even after their mentoring has ended.

Would you also like to contact Irina Dell? Then network on LinkedIn!

About the author


Die globale EY-Organisation ist ein marktführendes Unternehmen in den Bereichen Wirtschaftsprüfung und Steuerberatung sowie Strategy and Transactions und Consulting.

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