A kid I was quite sure I could be and do anything when I grew up. I watched NASA launch men into space, watched them walk on the moon, and then I learned that women couldn’t be astronauts. I ended up becoming a “rocket scientist” working at NASA anyway, and along the way I did figure out that there’s a bit of an uneven tilt to the world that needs to be fixed. Yes, women can become astronauts now, but there are a still a few other things that still need attention…
While I was working as an engineer in a very white, very dude-heavy aerospace environment, I sought out and learned from other women. That was my first experience of “networking” – women helping other women succeed.
When I left the aerospace sector to start a business, I met Lisa Bentson from Leads Club International. This networking organization to help business owners and entrepreneurs succeed financially was founded by her mom, Ali Lassen, when she found herself divorced with 4 kids to raise. The business model Ali developed has been widely adopted and is in use worldwide today in Leads Club and its many spinoffs such as BNI International and LeTip.
And when I moved to France and needed to jump-start my career all over again, I founded the Working Women’s Network of Grenoble based on principles learned from years of networking in aerospace and business.
Its mission: We are an association of English-speaking professional women living and working in the Grenoble area. Our purpose is to build and maintain business and personal connections that help us in our work and careers.
The WWNG was founded in 2004 and we acquired French Association 1901 (non-profit) status in 2006. It operates as a volunteer organization, with an elected board and appointed program committee as well as ad hoc committees for events and special projects.
The approximately 70 women in WWNG comprise an average of 20 nationalities (it changes a bit every year!) but we all share the desire to help each other and a drive to make our way in the world on our own terms.
Though my own sphere of influence is currently pretty firmly in the US and Europe, I’m keenly interested in how women are helping women throughout the world, and open to finding out how I can extend that sphere further around the globe.
I’d like to quote Kudakwashe Makuzwa, from Mellany Msengezi’s web site. “When women are healthy, educated and empowered, everyone wins. Women’s income is spent on education, health and food. When women are empowered the whole world benefits.”
So how do we do that? One Woman at a time, multiplied by millions.
I met Sharla in India, One Woman among a thousand at an international women’s conference with participants from over a hundred countries. Her adventurous spirit shines. I joined OneWoman because I want to be like her when I grow up!
And because I’d like to continue connecting with women who are empowering women around the world. I hope to take my nieces on their first voyages of discovery in the next years when they graduate, and I’m looking for opportunities for us to visit and work side-by-side with women in Asia or Africa. I intend to go back to Iran, where my own voyage of discovery started as an exchange student many years ago, and I’m looking for opportunities to meet women there.
If you can help me figure out either of these goals, or if you’d like help beginning your own success network, please contact me!