Debra Ali-Lawson

  • + Bern University of Applied Sciences
  • + Professor
  • + Nationality: South African/ Swiss
  • + Year of birth: 1958




“YEEP brings together individuals with different cultural backgrounds, experiences, views and working styles. It offers a platform where project participants can work synergistically on solutions to needs identified by those experiencing them and not as perceived and enforced by outsiders.” 

Role in the Project and Main Contributions

As lecturer for intercultural and international management I am responsible for coordinating an elective module which can be considered as the backbone of the YEEP project. It allows Swiss students to work together with students from a very different background in Ethiopia. With my specialization in intercultural competency development, I assume the role of a cultural facilitator in order to ensure that of the Swiss-Ethiopian encounters are of a beneficial and productive nature. My South African background, as well as my insights into Swiss culture after having lived and worked in Switzerland for many years, are vital to my role as cultural facilitator.

I strongly believe that by working together as equal partners on a common project, such as a business idea and business plan, one can develop a better understanding of ‘the other’, their environment, challenges and driving forces. 

Professional Experience

Current Occupation:

  • Lecturer for Intercultural and International Management (BFH)

Earlier Professional Experiences:

  • Head of the International Office of the Business Division, BFH.


  • Master in Business Administration, Open University, UK (2009),
  • Master in Applied Linguistics, University of Essex, UK.
  • Bachelor of Arts (English & History), University of South Africa, ZA.

Personal Interests, Voluntary Work

My passion is travelling and meeting members of other cultures on equal terms. My interests are working together on joint projects which provide ‘hands-on experiences’, social entrepreneurship and using ‘out of the box’ thinking to address life’s challenges, both big and small. 




Connect with us

We're on Facebook. Follow us & get in touch.