Ursula Hillbrand

Pioneer in the art of dialogue

Main focus: The art of dialogue

Websites/blogs: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ursula-hillbrand-9b22791a/ , https://www.instagram.com/ursula.hillbrand/ , www.transformative-leadership.eu

Languages: German, English, French, Italian, Dutch

City: Bregenz

State: Vorarlberg

Country: Austria

Topics: new work, co-creation, collaboration tools, transformative leadership, dialogue, art of hosting, collective organisation, conference facilitation

Services: Talk, Moderation, Workshop management, Consulting, Coaching, Interview

  Willing to travel for an event.

  Willing to talk for nonprofit.

Personal note:

My professional practice represents an elegant synthesis of both traditional and innovative approaches to collaborative group work. I regularly facilitate and host events, conferences and seminars on and offline. I also train teams in collaborative, emergent practices, support women (and men) in leadership, and coach facilitators and leaders to become hosts. I continue to exercise my passion for community building, supporting the establishment of Communities of Practice across a variety of sectors and geographies.

For over two decades, I have been supporting teams and individuals at the highest levels of business, politics, non-profit organisations and civil society. I am an experienced process designer, skilful and subtle host, coach, community builder and pioneer of collaborative practices.

My clients come to me when they need to go deeper and further in their work than they are able to go alone. They are often leaders seeking a shift or transformation - at an individual, team or organisational level - with tangible, reliable results they can build on.


I began my career in an academic institution, as a study assistant at a faculty of law, going on to train as a lawyer. I also studied university courses in languages and art history, seasoned with lighter summer placements hosting leisure tours across Europe. After obtaining my Masters in Law I spent some time working inside the Austrian legal system and Government, and later expanded my political horizon to work for the European Commission as a policy expert.

A formal training in emergent and collaborative processes within the Art of Hosting community of practice, gave me a language and structure for the organic ways of working I had developed across my diverse experiences with groups. I was present at the birth of the Art of Hosting Communities of Practice within the European Commission and worked with others to evolve and explore the role for transformative leadership and emergent practice within large, complex institutions. Alongside this, I established several communities of practice internationally.

I pioneered the Art of Hosting in Austria, and led the first team to initiate an online version of the core three-day immersive Art of Hosting training. I have a natural inclination towards pioneering work, pushing existing boundaries to bring innovative, collaborative practices into new spaces where they are being called for.

Since 2017 I have been on sabbatical from the European Commission and moved with my husband and three daughters to a family house in Bregenz, Austria where I had spent the summers of my youth – a space of recreation and connection. Here we pursued our love of hosting and opened a brasserie https://petrus-bregenz.at/ - following in the footsteps of my great grandmother who opened a restaurant there a hundred years earlier - in addition to the already existing Bregenzer Salon https://petrus-bregenz.at/bregenzer-salon/. The salon was founded in 2010 using a concept to take place at different venues to promote dialogue culture and innovative, collaborative working. I delight in hosting intimate salon gatherings for both social and professional groups, alongside my international facilitation, training and coaching work.

Examples of previous talks / appearances:

Informal meeting of gender equality ministers - October 2018

The Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union invited the EU gender equality ministers to an informal meeting.

After seven years, the equality ministers of the EU countries met again for the first time in this constellation to exchange ideas about to promote equality politically at the EU level.

Three events were planned, a formal breakfast together with the official representatives from the Western Balkans, Norway and Switzerland, an informal ministerial meeting at EU level, which ended with an official signing by 20 member states of a declaration for the next common steps. At the same time, the “Gender & You” youth conference took place, which was designed to be participatory and from which the ministers were inspired.

Ursula Hillbrand was responsible for the process design and the moderation of the informal ministerial meeting in in an interactive format enabling brainstorming, as well as the moderation of the final declaration on behalf of the Federal Chancellery. The numerous uncertain and unpredictable factors that occur in the diplomatic environment were mastered brilliantly and spontaneously. Many ministers felt that they had never enjoyed such interactive and meaningful conversation among fellow ministers as they did on this occasion.

"The combination of your open personality and determined aim to enable successful conversations and exchange among the participants made all the difference.
We also appreciated your diligence in designing strategic questions and documenting outcomes. In addition, you were available for any detailed questions by the organising team, which made my services very confident throughout the preparation process and the event itself."
Juliane Bogner-Strauss, former Federal Minister for Women, Families and Youth

This talk is in: English
European Conference for Architectural Policies “High Quality Building for Everyone. Baukultur and the Common Good in Europe.” - September 2018

The second day of the conference was marked by a morning of intensive workshop activities.
Ursula Hillbrand and her team from Salonhosting moderated the diverse workgroups brainstorming on the topic “Between Market Forces and Common Good: What can we as a community of informed practitioners do to move the practice of Baukultur forward throughout Europe while at the same time supporting grassroots

An interactive approach was chosen to demonstrate the meaningful results generated by participatory methods that implement diversity as a strength to help identify
solutions to complex real-world issues. Three lectures constituted a thematic introduction that shed light on European
aspects of Baukultur from several different perspectives.

"Nach der für uns so wichtigen Konferenz ist es mir ein Anliegen, Dir und Deinem Team aufrichtig für Eure professionelle und souveräne Arbeit zu danken. Es war in der Vorbereitung und Umsetzung aus meiner Sicht perfekt. Dass die Zusammenarbeit noch von einer menschlich sympathischen Komponente begleitet war, verstärkt die positive Erinnerung."
Dr. Elsa Brunner, Leiterin der Abteilung Denkmalschutz und Kunstrückgabeangelegenheiten sowie der Geschäftsstelle des Beirats für Baukultur im Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlichen Dienst und Sport (BMKÖS).

This talk is in: English
Overcoming borders through competition - March 2021

Austrian and Bavarian chambers of architects - Online Symposium

The goal in the Interreg project was to recognise and use the common experiences in order to master national borders, cultural and legal differences in cooperation:
Architects from the Bavarian-Austrian Interreg area – Bavaria, Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Salzburg and Upper Austria – worked together to find solutions to overcome the 817 kilometer border by means of competition projects.

Our interactive event design enabled participants to engage in exchange right on the day itself and learn from the experiences of others. Our success showed itself in the day long presenceof almost all 80 experts and architects until the early evening to actively engage with eachother. Together with the steering group of the Bavarian and Austrian Chambers of Architects, we designed the objectives of the symposium, the invitation process, the participatory formats for the event and the documentation.
Architects are free spirits and need creative space.

The interactive formats provided a minimal structure for free exchange: strategic learning and dialogue based on case studies, open space for practical approaches, and space for informal networking. A welcome package sent by mail additionally ensured the anchoring of the congress day.

"Despite or perhaps because of the online format, under the highly competent leadership of Ursula Hillbrand and her team, we succeeded brilliantly. Our participants actively contributed throughout the day and stayed in the digital aperitif rooms for a cultivated exchange, like at a face-to-face conference."
Arch. DI Daniel Fügenschuh, Vice president Federal Chamber of Architects and Chartered Engineering Consultants

This talk is in: German