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Empowered Women Series

Author: Purnima Thakre

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Glimpse into the career questions that the women behind Empowered Women Series have.Empowered Women Series is on a mission to get more women into positions of power in order to build a more just, equitable and peaceful world. We interview inspiring, successful women to help you get answers to career questions that you can't find on the internet. What questions do you have? Send us your questions, and follow @EmpoweredWomenSeries on Instagram and Youtube.
38 Episodes
Being human means that we feel a wide range of emotions, and the most sought after emotion is happiness. We all yearn for happiness, but we don’t often think about how we can actively put in effort to increase happiness in our day to day lives.Michelle Wax founded the American Happiness Project, a country-wide movement to capture and share how everyday people from all walks of life are creating their own happiness, regardless of external factors. In 2019, Michelle took to the road, traveling across the United States interviewing ordinary people and learning about how they created happiness. Her findings, in conjunction with scientific research, inform her interactive seminars, virtual team workshops, and a video series called American Goodness.During her travels and interviews, Michelle found a common theme - there was a point that these individuals reached in their lives where they decided to make a shift or change. Maybe they suffered a tragedy, or they were stuck in the monotony of day to day life, but each one of them actively decided to be happy. Michelle pulls from this theme to create resources, tools, and workshops helping people to actively create their own happiness.This shift is already occurring in those who have heard about the American Happiness Project already, and Michelle is working to make a movement of happiness. For more information on the American Happiness Project, check out
Most people open up their Instagram app to see what their friends and family are up to. Reshmi Menon goes on Instagram to learn about brands’ marketing strategies.Reshmi Menon, the Head Of Marketing at Suta, is a self-proclaimed “girl next door” who wants to make an impact and change consumers’ perspectives. She’s always loved marketing and has her master’s in the subject, and her habit of messaging brands on social media platforms regarding their marketing strategies ended up paying off when she moved from agency-side to client-side, now heading up marketing at Suta. Reshmi’s energetic and positive attitude has taken her far in her career, and she is not afraid to voice her opinion when it comes to marketing. When it comes to her career, she trusts her intuition and truly cares about being passionate about her work.We can all take note of Reshmi’s work ethic, spunky storytelling, and upward career path. 
“There are tee shirts that say, ‘Underestimate me. This’ll be fun,’ and that was exactly how I approached life.”This snippet is just one of many learnings we gained from our conversation with Julie Roehm, the Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at Party City. Julie is no stranger to adversity and has been a fierce competitor and determined power female ever since a young age. Calculated yet adventurous risk taking throughout her career has shown her that things don’t change if you aren’t willing to do something different.Julie shares her perspectives on workplace culture, dealing with adversity, jumping into new industries with confidence and poise, asking questions and listening, and building a successful team. Her experience in industries as varied as automotive, big box retail, services, and consulting have laddered up as she helps companies stand out in a beneficial way and push themselves through their marketing.Exuding an air of confidence while also maintaining humility is a difficult task to achieve, and Julie does just that. We encourage you to learn from her insightful commentary on her previous experience and advice to women!
Whoever came up with the saying that “Fashion is Pain” should learn from Suta. Fashion can be comfortable, practical, easy to move in, and absolutely beautiful designs! Sujata and Taniya Biswas are entrepreneurs, change-makers, visionaries, and… sisters! These two fashion powerhouses are the Co-Founders of Suta, a fashion brand that combines India’s weaving traditions with contemporary style. Sujata and Taniya discuss their views on sustainability, changing the perception of wearing saris, and using their platforms of fashion and social media presence to bring impactful change to the world. They aim to increase the confidence of women worldwide while also supporting their vendors and workers as much as possible and instilling a mindset of sustainability. If you haven’t been following Suta before this, now’s your chance to learn about the empowering fashion brand. Take a look at their gorgeous designs and now you’ll get an insight into the incredibly thoughtful, passionate brains that back up the business!
It’s so easy to get bogged down in your day job and repeat mindless tasks just to get the job done. But what will take you to the next level in your career, and also in your personal life, is maintaining a growth mindset in everything that you do. Anne-Fleur Vaartjes, a Risk Analyst at Morgan Stanley, is living an adventurous, travel-filled, curious life and she seeks out opportunities to enrich her growth mindset wherever possible. She shares with us that having a growth mindset is important for your career but also to live your life to the fullest and make the biggest possible impact on other people. A simple way to maintain a growth mindset in the workplace is to listen and observe others around you - not only what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it, communicating, displaying body language, and emphasizing tone, explained Anne-Fleur. This will help you to build relationships, learn new skills, deepen your knowledge of your industry, and progress in your career - without even taking any extra time out of your day!We hope that you enjoy learning from Anne-Fleur’s career advice as much as we did, and remember - always maintain a growth mindset!
What do Forbes 30 Under 30: Science, MIT Tech Review 35 Innovators Under 35, and L’Oreal USA for Women in Science all have in common? They’ve all spotlighted Ritu Raman for her incredible accomplishments in STEM. And now Empowered Women Series has joined the club! Ritu Raman is a biohybrid engineer and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Langer Lab at MIT, and she brings a fresh new perspective to the typically male-dominated STEM field of biology. Ritu’s innovation and critical thinking have set her apart in her field, and we here at EWS are particularly impressed by Ritu’s self-branding and powerful presence. This intelligent and well-spoken scientist discusses her background in STEM, how she grew up immersed in science and research, and how she would love to see more females in STEM. She also gets candid with us, sharing barriers and why she feels there are fewer females in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.Having strong female proponents within STEM is one of the first steps towards achieving equality in the field, and we extend a huge thank you and congratulations to Ritu for all that she has accomplished. She’s definitely someone to keep your eye on and learn from… she’s working hard to continue her successful career path! 
Ever had trouble putting on your bra? You just couldn't clip it correctly, or it dug into your rib the whole day? Now, think if you had a disability and there was absolutely design consideration given to designing your bra... how would you manage? Inclusivity isn't a box to check on a corporation's must-have list. It is a mentality, it is the way you think about and perceive those around you. Let's improve our perception and help others improve theirs. If we want to succeed as a humanity we need to promote inclusivity in all parts of life. Emma Butler, the CEO of, is doing it better than the rest of us. She created a company that designs lingerie for female-identifying people with disabilities, focusing on functionality as well as fashion. In last week’s episode of Empowered Women Live, Emma shared with us what inclusivity looks and feels like for real and what we can do to be 100% inclusive ourselves.She explained the inspiration behind founding and how she is motivated by customers’ stories of feeling comfortable and confident in their new lingerie. Emma’s powerful dedication to inclusivity as well as her empathy for all make her a strong woman to learn from, and we highly recommend that you check out her company’s website,, where “Getting dressed has never been easier.” 
There’s only so much time in the day to accomplish what you want to accomplish, whether that be advancing your career, growing a family, pursuing a passion, or whatever else. But sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget to make time to change the world.Anu Chitrapu is one of those rare women who has achieved immense success in her career as well as changing the world. This Bank of America SVP finds time after her 9-to-5 to volunteer with a number of global nonprofits, and she points out that learnings can be taken from both spaces to improve both corporate America and the nonprofit sector. Anu’s passion for volunteerism stems from her childhood, when her mother used to bring her to volunteer at a local orphanage. She didn’t even view it as volunteering; she was just making friends and building human connections! Anu shares three impactful volunteer experiences that she will treasure forever, showing the widespread reach of her efforts. She also discusses her perspective on empowering women and what being an empowered woman means to her. Nonprofits that Anu is deeply involved in are TiE Boston, Nyrvaana, American India Foundation, and Direct Action for Women Now. We highly recommend that you check them out and support at least one of them. Anu’s thoughtful and intelligent perspective on balancing her passion for growing nonprofits with corporate America demonstrates that it is possible to change the world, no matter how much else you have going on day-to-day. She exudes a personal culture of volunteerism that serves as an inspiration for all!
Here at Empowered Women Series, we believe that all women are strong women. Our inner strength and grit allow us to move mountains (metaphorically, at least). But for Empowered Women Series’ first ever live event, we brought you a Master Class from a woman who is literally stronger than almost everybody.We had the opportunity to partake in a Master Class in Coaching from Brittany Diamond. Brittany is the 3x 3rd Strongest Woman in the World as well as the founder of BDimez Training LLC and a sponsored athlete who has been coaching others around the globe for several years. She has been able to turn her incredible work ethic and passion into a coaching business to help others achieve their own fitness and personal goals. Brittany answered questions for all of you, Empowered Women Series members and followers, about her experience developing her own virtual coaching business. She also discussed her own personal learning journey as she discovered that motivation has to come from within and that she’s not able to encourage her clients through babysitting, but instead through personalized communication. Brittany talked about the pros and cons of running a virtual business in 2020, exploring the necessity for boundaries and time limits.Brittany’s high level of fitness and warm, personable manner have led her to be a successful coach, and her attitude of caring deeply about her community shines through in the teaching of her Master Class. We hope that you are just as inspired by her can-do attitude as we were!
It’s far too easy these days to get stuck in a rut of negativity. Even turning on the news could plummet your day into despair. But what takes real strength in times like these is spreading optimism to those around you!Lisa Tanzer is a believer in the power of optimism. This mother, philanthropist, and President of Life is Good, lives every single day in the pursuit of positivity and aspires to help those around her in simple ways such as spreading the generosity of time and having small, meaningful interactions. If Lisa is able to help somebody out, she will do so, and her company shares her strong values. In this episode of Empowered Women Series, we talk to Lisa about her career journey and how her and her company have managed to spread so much optimism each and every day. She tells us customer stories about changing “have to’s” to “get to’s,” and she truly believes in the Life is Good company “superpowers” (or values) such as courage, creativity, humor, and fun. Lisa’s advice is to focus on your passion because “if you love what you’re doing, it won’t feel like work, you’ll work harder, and you’ll be more successful.” Her incredible generosity, caring spirit, and always underlying positivity are crucial characteristics to learn from in order to spread joy to those around us at times when we need it the most.
Every once in a while, we all get caught up in our day-to-day lives, overbook ourselves, or lose track of our schedules. Society equates business to productivity, but sometimes that equation fails to work out. And this is where we turn to our trusted friends like Catherine Cheng for advice!Catherine Cheng is a double major at a prestigious university, a Business Analyst intern at refine+focus, a violist, a reader, a yogi, a runner, a baker, and in what free time she has left, she is a core member of the Empowered Women Series team. Her incredible level of productivity is astounding to the average person, so we decided to take some time out of our days to learn from our team member Catherine’s time management skills.In this episode of Empowered Women Series, we talk to Catherine about how she manages to balance her many passions while remaining a top performer and somehow finding time for self-kindness. She shares tips on maintaining a practical schedule, how to say “no,” and how to remain present and in-the-moment. Catherine’s warm and caring personality shines through as she pursues her passions each and every day, and her positive attitude is contagious. We can all learn from Catherine to form habits of practical productivity to implement into our everyday lives!
Becoming a lawyer or a doctor are two of the career paths that require the highest level of education, persistence, drive, and motivation. Imagine becoming both a lawyer AND a doctor… Aretha Delight Davis has done both with poise and grace in order to give back to her community.It’s easy to get caught up in everyday life and become stuck in a career rut, focusing on your everyday job instead of thinking big picture about your goals and aspirations. For Aretha, the decision to transition from her law firm to medical school was not clear cut, but she knew it was her calling and she decided to pursue her passion.In this episode of Empowered Women Series, we talk to Aretha about her nonlinear career journey and how it led to her co-founding a Boston-based nonprofit called ACP Decisions in order to help inform medical patients through videos. Her ties to the company are deeply personal, and she shares her inspiring and emotional story of creating the company with us. Aretha’s dedication to pursuing her dreams showcases not only her incredible intelligence and skillset, but also the importance of knowing herself. We can all learn from Aretha in order to become the best versions of ourselves!
Having worked at Bloomberg for 28 years, Fran Sharp is legendary at the organization. It is said that if you don’t know how to solve something, you go to Fran! Often we might feel like our softer skills, like caring about people, being nurturing or a “giver” might not be compatible with our career goals, or perhaps that they are skills more suited for our “personal lives” more than the “business world”. However, embracing these skills, along with our true selves (whatever that may be), can be powerful allies in building a career that we are truly satisfied with!  In this episode of Empowered Women Series, we talk to Fran about the importance of knowing yourself and her simple yet extremely powerful framework to help you get there, as well as how embracing her own unique way of doing things, from always wanting to try new things to her innate gift for truly caring about others, has helped her build a life and career she loves.  But the real question is: will she share the recipe for her famous brownies, with 8 different kinds of chocolate???
E25 — How to Say No

E25 — How to Say No


How many times have you said yes, when you really wanted to say “no”? From spreading yourself too thin to straining important relationships, almost everyone knows the consequences of not knowing how to say “no”.In this episode, our very own Purnima Thakre takes the interviewee seat in this invaluable lesson on learning how to prioritize ourselves, teaching us that by establishing our limits, we are not limiting ourselves, but rather freeing ourselves.  From heading Empowered Women Series, co-leading refine+focus, being a fitness instructor, food blogger, and a thousand things in between, Purnima has mastered the art of fitting all the things you love into your schedule. The key? Learning to identify what matters to you, and saying no to the things that try to impede them. Unlock the greater social and professional freedom by being honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do, through Purnima’s framework on how to say “no”. By spending your time honestly, your time is better spent on you along with those around you. 
“What do you want to do with your life?”Choosing the right career path is one of the crucial life decisions. Like all other life questions, this one too doesn't have an easy answer but fortunately has the right process. That process is an ultimate life-hack, it’s called Rotational Programs.  Katie Martensen, an Associate at Citizen’s Bank Consumer Banking Leadership Development Program shares why she joined this program and how it has already expedited her career clarity. In this episode of the Empowered Women Series, we discuss everything you ever wanted to know about Rotational Programs or Leadership Programs. And most importantly how they fill gaps between college education and real-life work.  Katie is a key member of Empowered Women Series leadership and we are immensely proud of what she has accomplished and what she will. She is graciously available to anyone who wants to have a conversation about Rotational Programs and know more. If you like it give it a thumbs up and share it with all the aspiring leaders, not just women! 
In times like these, innovation and creativity are more important than ever. There are so many goods and services out there in the world to purchase, but entrepreneurs are constantly finding white space in the market to create new unique offerings. When there isn’t a product that already exists to solve your need, why not create one yourself?Tracy Snider found one of these white spaces, and she hit the ground running to create her own company. This extremely bright and creative entrepreneur is the founder of Sans Bottle, a reusable travel bottle designed to preserve the life of smoothies and juices. Her experience of purchasing a juice cleanse a month in advance only to run out of room in her freezer got the gears in her mind turning, and she embarked on an entrepreneurial journey to solve the market gap.In this episode of Empowered Women Series, Tracy shares some of the lessons that she’s learned from her entrepreneurial journey as well as the story of how she created her company.Her insightful commentary on how to deal with constructive feedback from customers, how to persist in times of struggle, and how to leverage an innovative idea to create a new offering will make you want to be an entrepreneur as well!
Life is full of unexpected, we know it better now. However much we plan, our plan doesn't always go the way we want it to. We all make mistakes and are forced to make hard decisions. And we are not alone. YOU are not alone. Many successful people had to go though this as much as we do, or even more. Like Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen. Even this award-winning CEO, one of the Top 30 Most Influential Women in the MENA region, and a Global Cinema Leader, even these three titles fall short of summarizing the successes of career. She’s nothing less than a powerhouse; she’s a role-model business woman with a strong leadership and determination. She too made mistakes and of course hard decisions. In this episode of Empowered Women Series, Debbie shares her experiences and stories of how she deals with making mistakes and hard decisions. She’s the first to admit that her career path has had some twists and turns, and her advice on how to succeed makes for an episode that you definitely don’t want to miss!
If you are currently socially distancing yourself and working from home. Thank you!Here are a few tips on how to make the most of this "opportunity" working remotely. Carolina Fowler is a Marketer / Creative Strategist and has  made a successful career while working from home. In this episode Carolina talks about what to do create balance and discipline with all this freedom and responsibility. Her tips would be help you come out as a better version of yourself when this is over. You know when we are out of this world isn't going to be the same, we are all going to have some economic and work challenges. But thanks to Carolina YOU will be ready for it. Wish you happy working from home, happy listening. Stay safe and stay healthy! #workingremotely #workingfromhome #convid19 #career #careeradvice #success #womenleaders #womenprofessionals #women #empoweredwomenseries #empoweredwomen
Karen Ansara is the co-founder of New England International Donors and the Ansara Family Fund, and she’s deeply involved in global philanthropy efforts.She’s passionate, yet maintains a strong sense of flexibility by finding a way to be creative in all of her endeavors, whether they’re work related or family oriented.In our newest episode, Karen shares her tips on how to balance family and career. Finding work-life balance is a challenge that every woman faces during at least one point in her life. Although there’s no simple one word answer, Karen shares many relevant and useful tips that women of all career paths will find useful.So, how do you balance work and personal life?
Episode 19 is finally here! Featuring an award-winning CEO, one of the Top 30 Most Influential Women in the MENA region, and a Global Cinema Leader — even these three titles fall short of summarizing the successes of Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen’s career. She’s nothing less than a powerhouse; she’s a role-model business woman with a strong leadership and determination.In this episode, Debbie shares how she has seized key life opportunities. From making a 180-degree career change, to delivering a last-minute keynote in front of 300+ people, to growing as a professional and becoming a global leader in the cinema industry, Debbie has seen it all.Get career insights and motivation from a woman who’s not afraid to lead and take risks! 
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