“Gender Bias is the Most Significant Barrier”
Q: Anjum, what’s your story?
A: Education has been my life. I hold a core belief in the empowerment of the individual and the improvement of lives through access to quality education. Because of this belief and the gratitude that I feel for the opportunities education has provided to me and my family, I have committed myself to empowering women through education. I believe that if women are included, educated, and meaningfully employed, the world will be a better place to live (economically stable and environmentally safe). My family business, the HOFT Institute, represents this belief and our commitment to educational
quality is demonstrated through the programs and practices at the Institute. Now, at the Alhambra US Chamber, my passion is to bring educational opportunities to others around the globe.
Q: Who is your role model in life, if you have one, and why?
A: I do not have one role model but rather have too many to list as they have come from a diverse group of people - my parents, my teachers, my family, friends, colleagues, and clients.
Q: Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career!
A: In 2007, I was one of the founding members of the Coalition of an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights (CAPBOR) which today is called the Flyers Rights Organization (http://www.flyersrights.org/). Over the next 6 years, I lived these famous words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, organized citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I learned a tremendous amount, established myself in a new network, and succeeded in changing the US regulations in favour of airline passengers in a significant way.
"I have learned the importance of continuing to grow professionally and personally through giving back to others"
Q: Why did you want to become a mentor?
A: I have benefitted greatly from being mentored in my life and career, and I want to give back by being a mentor to others and by encouraging my colleagues to become mentors themselves.
Q: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
A: Gender bias is the most significant barrier. There are educated capable women who are in position to be selected for leadership roles but those who have the capacity to select them to leadership positions are not doing so. In fact, based on estimates of the current rate of change, it will take until 2085 for women to reach parity with men in key leadership roles in the United States.
Q: What advice would you give to younger women who want to succeed in the workplace?
A: I would advise them to see their career as a progression of self-development where their current situation will combine with opportunity to create the next steps in learning and advancement. I hope that they will always have a good mentor or sponsor to support and guide them.
Q: What are the most important learnings for you in leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?
A: I have learned the importance of continuing to grow professionally and personally through giving back to others by setting sustainable goals, creating opportunity, and sharing my experience and expertise.
Q: Can you share with us a couple of stories that have either inspired you or transformed the way you think/ act?
A: The people that I meet through my work inspire me every day. Many have also impacted my worldview in significant ways. Their courage, humility, and commitment to forging a better life for themselves and others have affected me deeply: I have a broader and better-informed worldview, I am more grateful, and my joy and reverence for life have deepen.
Let me share with you a few of these amazing people.
Evelyn Apoko had been kidnapped by the LRA and forced to be a child soldier in Uganda. Evelyn carried bombs which had blown up leaving her with severe injuries, horrifically disfiguring her face. She was rescued from a refugee camp, brought to the US, and she received ESL training at the HOFT Institute. Today, she is employed and enjoying a safe and productive life in Austin, Texas. You can watch her TED talk, A Voice for the Voiceless, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ry1eo_V8XLY.
Grace Freeman, lived a life of deprivation in Liberia where she and her brother were rescued as orphans from a refugee camp and brought to the US for studies. Grace’s transformation while studying English at the Institute on scholarship has been impressive. She has gone from a scared, shy and withdrawn young woman to a bold, confident student who began her studies this fall at Concordia University Texas. She has made the Dean’s list her first semester! Her goal is to train as a nurse and return to Liberia to help others (Syrian fundraiser with Grace singing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8vLjjhqvWM).
Ishmael author Daniel Quinn, who wrote portions of that book while he worked as an English tutor at the HOFT Institute demonstrated to all of us that vision and perseverance can be recognized and rewarded.
While a student in medical school in San Antonio where he is now a leading surgeon, John Metersky, M.D. would tutor others in Chemistry often at great inconvenience to himself because “they needed his help.”
And we are inspired by and proud of Jenna and Barbara Bush, former clients, who after completing their educations went on to establish organizations and careers that impact others in meaningful ways.
Q: Do you feel that our societies face an issue of trust? How do you explain phenomena like Trump’s election in the US or Brexit in Europe?
A: The issue can be framed as one of having access and a voice in the system. It is critical to hear the various voices of our communities, especially those marginalized or harmed, and to utilize our democratic institutions to provide them with access and a voice that has the power to impact the process.
Q: What is a major challenge for our world?
A: The horrific combination of climate change and the massive population displacement due to war.
Q: Anything else you may wish to add?
A: This has been a wonderful year with the Global Thinkers Mentors and I’ve truly enjoyed mentoring my mentee, Maansi. Thank you, Elizabeth, Katerina and team.
Managing Partner, Alhambra U.S. Chamber - Vice President, HOFT/IAEI & Honorary Ambassador, The Polish Network of Women's Entrepreneurs
Anjum Malik is a global professional in the fields of international education, educational consulting, business development, and entrepreneurial management.
A committed educator, innovative public/private sector entrepreneur and cross-cultural adviser, she has an extensive international network of contacts, which she leverages on behalf of her global clients offering a valuable blend of critical thinking, judicious reasoning and focused deliberation.
Anjum’s belief in the power of education to improve society is evident in all aspects of her life. The organizations she has created and managed have enhanced the global competence of 150,000+ students and hundreds of professionals. Within her most nurtured passion –education – Anjum seeks innovative tools to improve teaching, learning, and access.
In all her endeavours, she strives to advance the empowerment of women and increase their safe and rightful participation in the workforce.
Anjum consults and trains on issues related to international education. She works with multiple educational and cultural outreach programs, has served on numerous boards, and has been regularly interviewed for and quoted in national and international media. In recognition of her global contribution to women’s entrepreneurship, Anjum was designated as an Honorary Ambassador of the Polish Network of Women Entrepreneurship Ambassadors during the 2015 European Congress of Small and Medium Enterprises in Katowice, Poland.For her leadership in education delivery and development, the Chamber was invited to become an inaugural member of President Barack Obama's "Partners for a New Beginning Program".