Inspiring young female leaders to follow

What motivates you?

If you ask Google this question, it will give you 7 million different results. My answer is pretty straightforward — people.

Mentorship relationships with your colleague, your crazy neighbor — pianist — who does not let you sleep till late on Sunday morning due to his busy practice schedule, chats with your ex-classmate who dropped out of the university to found his own flower delivery company or a TED lecture by TOP 500 Fortune CEO. You can find an inspiration to go forward everywhere.

Surrounding yourself with the right people who work hard to achieve their goals no matter what and learning from them is a huge step to succeeding on your own. Fortunately, ‘surrounding’ nowadays doesn’t necessary mean physical proximity. Social media gives you an opportunity to understand the person you are interested in probably as good as his closest friend does.

As we all know, last Tuesday it was the International Women’s Day. I want to devote this post to it by sharing with you some of the inspiring women leaders I follow on a constant basis to get motivated.

No, You are wrong. I am not going to mention neither Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel, nor Marissa Mayer or Sheryl Sandberg even though they are probably the brightest female leaders of today.

I want to focus more on those, who are still working hard on their own success stories and bringing positive impact to the world. They are young, beautiful, full of ambitions to change the world and they work very hard to achieve it.

1. Lauren Bush Lauren, 31

From the Dior model appearing on the Vogue covers and Anthropology student at Princeton to one of the most successful social entrepreneurs fighting against world hunger.

Lauren has founded her current company — FEED— in 2007. FEED creates eco-friendly products (bags, accessories, souvenirs) that help feed the world. Each FEED product sold supports organizations such as the UN World Food Programme and has a number stamped on it that shows the amount of meals provided to children at schools in the poor countries with its purchase.

For those who are not interested in the purchase of products, Lauren is running a FEED Foundation— raising funds to support a fight against hunger.

Through the FEED project, Lauren has already provided around 60 million school meals to children around the world.

If you want to learn more about Lauren’s life journey, check out this interview or follow her on Twitter.

2. Emma Watson, 25

No, I am inspired by Emma Watson not because she was such a great Hermione Granger. Everyone knows that Emma is a brilliant actress, however she is so much more than that.

For a long time Emma — a recent Brown University’s graduate with a specialization in English literature — has been working on different humanitarian issues: promotion of girls’ education, fair trade and organic clothing.

In summer 2014 she was appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Currently she is an advocate for UN Women’s HeForShe campaign promoting gender equality and empowerment of young women.

HeForShe is a platform on which men and boys can engage and become change
 agents towards the achievement of gender equality. Hundreds of thousands of men have already made their commitment and now taking actions to build more equal world.

If you are reading this, I highly recommend you to make your own contribution. In case you are based in NYC, you might be also interested in checking HeForShe Arts week happenning right now.

Are you still not concerned about gender inequality? Then you definitely need to listen to truly inspiring Emma’s HeForShe speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos (text version).

I want to highlight some of the interesting facts and figures she mentioned.

  • People associate feminism with man hate. However, what it actually means, is equality: politically, culturally, socially, and economically. If you stand for equality, you are a feminist
  • Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideal
  • Women account for 60% of college graduates but only 3% of leaders worldwide
  • Women and girls represent two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population
  • If we do nothing it will take 75 years before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work
  • If we do nothing 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children.
  • If we do nothing it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education

Nowadays Emma is taking a year off acting to focus on feminism — reading, doing her own research, talking to people, promoting the idea and taking real actions to achieve gender equiality.

If you are interested in the topic and want to learn more, you can follow her on twitter or read more about launching HeForShe initiative and Emma’s ideas on gender equality.

3. Kathryn Minshew, 30

After graduating from the Duke University with a degree in Political Science, for a couple of years Kathryn worked as a management consultant at McKinsey. However she left the firm to work on improving access to vaccines in Africa with the Clinton Health Initiative.

Some time passed and Kathryn decided to start her own project — The Muse — career advice and job search tool. The Muse grew with an amazing speed — launched less than 5 years ago with less than $3,000 and a few people in the team, now it has over two million users.

If you have not heard about The Muse, you should try it — the portal is focused on the millenials. It will help you understand what you want to do in your life and how to improve your professional skills to build a career of your dreams. Also, The Muse offers really nice vacancies both in hot startups and big corporations. Unfortunately now has mostly offers in the USA, but keep in mind that the organization is growing very fast and I am sure they will expand worldwide very soon.

Moreover, Kathryn’s a frequent speaker at universities and conferences, contributor to the famous magazines like Wall Street Journal or Harvard Business Review and she is in the class 2016 Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Media.

If you are interested in startups, check more information about the Muse growth story and Kathryn’s lecture on the most common startup pitfalls and ways to avoid it. Also you can follow her on twitter to keep updated.

4. Xenia Tchoumitcheva, 28

Originally Russian , but raised in Switzerland, Xenia started her modelling career at the age of 12. After she took a 1st runner-up place at the national “Miss Switzerland” pageant in 2006, there was a big national controversy and for the first time in history, someone was offered the same contract as the winner. The most eligible single woman in Switzerland, the Best Bikini Body, Most Beautiful Woman in Switzerland, TV host and presenter.

You will never believe what this beauty has decided to do after graduating from her university: Xenia has interned at different financial institutions, such as Merrill Lynch, the London hedge fund Duet Group and JP Morgan Chase. If you are more or less familiar with the financial world, you probably can understand how difficult it is to get there.

At the end of her internship in trading & sales team at JP Morgan, Xenia received an employment offer, but she didn’t take it because she wanted to focus on her own business. She decide to follow her true passion conquering the world of fashion.

In 2013 Xenia has founded her online business — Chicoverdose — an open platform about fashion and trendy lifestyle. Started as a one-person fashion blog Chicoverdose developed into something much bigger — a luxury webmag written by independent women for smart, modern, fashionable and business oriented people.

Xenia travels a lot negotiating with most famous fashion brands, working on trendy photoshoots and just pursuing her dream.

Xenia speaks six languages (Italian, Russian, English, German, French, Spanish) and gives speeches at conferences and universities. You might find it interesting to see her TED lecture about self-determination.

If you want more information about Xenia, check her personal website.

5. Kristen Titus, 31

Kristen’s career started as a consultant to nonprofit organizations working at the intersection of philanthropy and technology spheres.

Then she became a Managing Director of the startup from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughe —, the social network for the social sector. She was responsible for the organization’s programming, fundraising, communications and operations.

Some years after Kristen joined the team of Girls Who Code as an executive director. Girls Who Code probably is one of the most ambitious existing projects that is trying to address gender imbalances. The project aims to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to close the gender gap in the tech industry.

Kristen did an amazing job at Girls Who Code and during her first 18 months in business, the organization received funding from 25 partners and delivered 700% growth. Her achievements were highly recognized: she is constantly included in the list of “people changing the world” and “most important people in tech“.

Currently Kristen is the founding director of New York City’s Tech Talent Pipeline, leading the Mayor’s $10 million commitment to support the growth of the tech sector.

You can learn more about Kristen following her on twitter or reading an interview with her.

To finish my post I suggest you to watch an inspiring TED talk by Reshma Saujani — an amazing woman — the founder of Girls Who Code — “Teach girls bravery, not perfection“.

I hope you learnt something new and like me you managed to find some inspiration and motivation in these bright, ambitious and brave young women.

Happy International Women’s Day to all the ladies

If you like the post, feel free to share the post with your friends :) Also, do not forget to check out my blog about career, productivity and learning and subscribe to weekly newsletters if you are interested.

Originally published at on March 12, 2016.

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