Every once in a while the random "you two should know each other" email hits the networking bulls-eye. This was definitely the case when an introduction to Rania Anderson landed in my inbox. Rania is committed to accelerating the businesses, workforce participation and business leadership of women in developing and emerging economies. Rania is the author of UNDETERRED: The Six Success Habits of Women in Emerging Economies
, the first book written for ambitious, educated women in emerging markets.
For 14 years she worked her way up the corporate ladder at Bank of America, developing an expertise in financial services, retaining talent and senior management, then moved on to found her own executive coaching business and to co-found a women-led angel investor network, now a group of 50 women who invest in women-led businesses. With all this career activity, it came as no surprise when Rania answers my question "What is the worst for you?" with the simple answer: Not being productive.
As she looks to equip more business women around the world for success, Rania agreed to answer my questions and share her insights:
Me: What do you love?
Rania: Seeing women advance economically and reach their potential.
Me: What are you curious about?
Rania: Everything, but most of all - business.
Me: Define “entrepreneur”?
Rania: An entrepreneur is business person who sees an UNMET need or creates an opportunity; someone who is not satisfied with the status quo, has a vision for how to change it and the willingness to do whatever it takes to do so.
Me: Who are your heroes?
Rania: I don’t really have any heroes. It’s not how I think or how I am wired. I am inspired daily by people who make a difference some in small ways and by others who are changing the world.
Me: What is your current challenge?
Rania: Unleashing and advancing the careers and businesses of 100,000 women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Me: What would you say is your greatest achievement?
Rania: Professionally - writing the first career advice book for women in emerging economies; Personally - being a partner to my husband, a mother to my 25-year-old son.
Me: What is your motto?
Rania; Make a Difference
Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?
Rania: Because there is a huge unmet need to prepare educated women in developing and emerging economies for the workforce and for business leadership roles.
Me: What problem are you solving?
Rania: Almost all current career advice for women written by westerners and is based on western work environments. There’s a huge gap between what students learn at university and the skills they need to succeed at work. Women around the world regularly tell me that they need culturally relevant business and career guidance. I am originally from the Middle East, this is a problem I can relate to and solve.
Me: What problem would you like solved?
Rania: To have gender parity at all levels of business: i.e. entry, mid, senior, executive, and board levels.
Me: Biggest regret.
Rania: The lack of progress I have made in reaching women in the Middle East.
Me: What mobile device do you presently use?
Rania: iPhone, iPad
Me: Essential app(s)?
Rania: Twitter, What’s App (works really well around the world for messaging), Sonos for music, Leviton for home security (key when I’m traveling).
Me: Which productivity tools (app / software / office supplies) do you use most often?
Rania: Basecamp and Highrise
Me: Are you on Twitter?
Me: What’s your hashtag?
Me: Your pitch in 140 characters.
Rania: I can tell you how business women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe & the Middle East succeed.
Me: Inc. or Rolling Stone or…..? Which magazine cover?
Rania: Fast Company
Me: What is your must read?
Rania: The Wall Street Journal, every morning. If I have an early morning start I get up even earlier to make time to read it.
Me: What conference would you like to keynote?
Me: What’s your guilty pleasure?
Rania: Eating nuts. I have to hide them from myself.
Me: Short cut, long route, road less travelled? What’s your roadmap?
Rania: Paving a new road to get where I want to go.
Me: Podium you’d like to stand on?
Rania: World Bank
Me: The memories of a chef are tastes and smells, what would you say are the memories of an entrepreneur?
Rania: Seeing the joy of a customer using their product
Me: Who or What inspires you?
Rania: The women I talk to every week who are boldly pursuing the life and career they want - the undeterred women
Me: What’s the most important startup / entrepreneurship lesson you’ve learned?
Rania: It always takes longer, more money, and way more rejection than you think it will.
Me: Your Ferris Bueller moment. If you could goof-off / skip out for a day, what would you do?
Rania: Hang out in Big Sur, CA
Me: Part of the trick to staying focused is?
Rania: Desire to succeed
Me: One last thing (what’s the question I should be asking you)?
Rania: WHY? I’ve thought about the juxtaposition of the inequalities women face and the remarkable good fortune I’ve had since I was 11 or 12 years old living in India. I am originally from the Middle East and my father worked in the aviation industry. Growing up, we moved to a different country every few years. When we lived in India, my sister and I were driven to school every day and along the way we saw hundreds of girls our age that did not have the opportunity to go to school. That was the first of thousands of times in my life that I encountered inequality among women and among men and women. Not many Arab girls have the opportunities I’ve had to live, study, pursue a graduate degree, work, achieve senior leadership, start and run a business, write a book and work around the world. I’ve thought my whole life about what I was supposed to do with the remarkable experiences and expertise I have. For me the answer has always been to create ways for more women to have the opportunities and success I’ve had. It is why I do what I do.
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