Name: Rania Habiby Anderson
Business: The Way Women Work , career training for women in emerging economies
Industry: Education & Training
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Reason for starting: 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 who 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.
I started The Way Women Work to solve three problems: 1) Almost all current career advice for women is written by Westerners and is based on Western work environments; 2) Women around the world regularly tell me that they need culturally relevant business and career guidance; 3) There’s a huge gap between what students learn at university and the skills they need to succeed at work.
How do you define success? By the extent that I am able to help women advance and succeed in their careers and businesses — that’s my passion and my life’s work.
Future success to me looks like meeting my goal to unleash the economic potential of 100,000 women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. I am doing this through my book, Undeterred and through international speaking engagements at conferences, corporations and universities.
Each year, I have invested earnings from my executive coaching business to start and grow The Way Women Work. That has given me the freedom to pursue what I thought the business needed. But after five years, the personal investment has been significant, and I’ve had to continually re-evaluate what I can or cannot do going forward.
Biggest Success: Writing and publishing my book, Undeterred: The Six Success Habits of Women in Emerging Economies. I spent four years researching and interviewing 250 successful, relatable women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. One of the top universities in South Africa, the Gordon Institute of Science Business (GIBS), just made Undeterred required reading for an MBA class, and multinational companies like PwC, Barclays and T-Systems are hiring me to come speak to their women on how to advance and succeed.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? There have been many challenges. Two of the toughest: As an entrepreneur, it always takes longer, more money, and way more rejection than you think it will; the second is the lack of progress I have made in reaching women in the Middle East. I’ve addressed these challenges by getting clearer on the needs of women, trying new strategies, determining what’s working, pivoting, doing more outreach, expanding my network and staying undeterred.
Who is your most important role model? The women I talk to every week who are boldly pursuing the life and career they want — the undeterred women in emerging economies!
Edited by The Story Exchange