Graeme du Plessis is the Head of Brand and Community at Factory Berlin. Originally from the UK, he has been living in Berlin for 6 years. Graeme has a social and multifaceted role that’s all about building community and creating spaces for people to come together, exchange ideas and collaborate on projects. A fan of meeting new people and wanting to make them feel at home in the same way he does, Graeme credits Berlin as giving him the freedom to be part of various communities and not have to define himself by just one discipline or field of interest.
How did you start working at Factory Berlin?
I'd say it wasn’t much of an active decision. When I moved to Berlin some years before, it was the first time I realized that not always knowing what the next step is, can actually be quite a good thing. I was very much living in that state of mind. And then the opportunity to become part of Factory Berlin came up.
What does your personal Berlin look like?
Berlin can be a mirror to you and what you're looking for. It's a space where inspiration is around every single corner. Even in the depths of the dark in winter, the most industrial corners of the city showed me real beauty. Here, you can be part of a startup, work in a corporate environment or even be a politician, it’s possible to be interested in all of those things. The city embraces an open mindset in the way that it doesn’t define things in disciplines or by categorizing topics or fields of interests, which tends to silo people. While I don’t necessarily consider myself creative, I still feel part of the creative community. And even though I’m not really a tech person, I feeI very much part of the city’s tech and startup scene. Berlin is this place where you can kind of be anything that you want to be. You can really explore lots of different areas of the world or society.
Do you feel like home here?
I often compare my life in Berlin to the life I had in the UK and thinking of how things changed with Brexit makes me quite sad. I think of my parents who moved from South Africa to the UK because they wanted a better life for their children. They didn't want to grow up in this racially divided country. And decades later Brexit happens. For me, it has completely changed the relationship that I have with the country. It has made me more committed to embracing Europe and feeling even more at home here in Berlin.
Are there any organizations you would like to give a shout out to?
There are many groups in Berlin that are warm and welcoming. I love tuning in to Refuge Worldwide or having a few drinks down at Oona bar. You also have the Black Brown Berlin. Rhea, Femi and Chanel, founded a community for colored people, centering on events and opportunities. They're just an amazing group of community organizers, helping businesses and communities that are trying to improve diversity.
Who would you define as your Woman Author of Achievement?
It's funny because some people say it’s so hard to choose! Now I know why they say that — I feel the same, as the definition of a role model is quite broad. In my career I've always had the privilege of working closely with incredible female leaders, who saw something in me, took the time to understand and inspire confidence in me. Annette Osmeña, the former Head of Brand at Factory Berlin, really taught me a lot. She's a hustler, working on a million different projects at once, and everything she touches turns to gold. Not to mention Catherine Bischoff and Tala Mortada - both are phenomenal women who’ve shared so much wisdom and support in our time as colleagues, and friends.
What was your favorite WAA Podcast episode?
The one with Georgie Smallwood (E.05) I absolutely loved! How she spoke about coming from media and storytelling is the core of her role as the Chief Product Officer - I found that really interesting and affirms how incredible she is. Another favorite episode of mine is with Alina Bassi (E.26) because everything that she does is amazing and everything she touches turns to gold. I love how she came up with the business idea for Kleiderly. And all the work that she does for Founderland and her support for StealthMode. Alina, you’re amazing, I love you.