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Ojoma Atanu, CEO of ArkNature Consulting in Lagos, Nigeria, and a 10,000 Women
graduate, traveled to the U.S. in May 2011 to participate in the Fortune
Mentoring Program. Atanu spoke with K@W 10,000 Women
about her architectural career and her plans to embrace greener building strategies in her home country.
Across the world, the popularity of Indian food is growing and Indian restaurant chains are following the taste buds. Business owners see a lot of potential because of the Indian diaspora, and Indian food is also gaining acceptance worldwide. Foodies are quickly learning that Indian cuisine is much more than curry, biryani and tandoori chicken.
Chinese entrepreneur Zhu Jin has built a booming business -- six stores in Chengdu and now a new 3,000-acre nursery in the suburbs -- out of a product that is "sensually pleasant and spiritually enjoyable." Spring Flora House, a fast-growing flower business catering to high-end customers, has focused on such issues as supply-chain management and quality control to succeed in a competitive market. Among the skills that have helped Zhu along the way: taking a more holistic approach to problem solving.
Replete with comfortable chairs, free wi-fi and the smell of freshly-baked bread, Panera is not your average fast food joint. The company is one of the fastest-growing chains in the U.S., with 1,420 stores and a roughly $3 billion market capitalization. During the depths of the downturn, when most companies contracted, Panera grew in size and profits. The reason for Panera's success is simple, experts say: The chain has pursued a niche strategy, differentiating itself as a fast food restaurant that serves healthy, tasty, affordable food in a community-minded atmosphere.
As retailers face greater pressure to sell more products, expand into new markets and streamline production, the fashion industry is feeling the heat. Designer Vera Wang, for example, is trying to turn her business into one that is widely known and widely worn. William Fung, managing director of Hong Kong-based trading company Li & Fung, is trying to stay ahead of new complexity in the production process. Both Wang and Fung discussed ongoing challenges in the fashion industry during a recent presentation at Wharton.
Given the choice between recycling and food production, Masooda Wahidi chose the business path of greater flavor. With a business plan in place, she is now working on techniques to package and sell her pickles and jams in Afghanistan's Ghazni province and beyond. A family business expert offers tips on labeling, branding and finding your tastiest niche.
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women
is so often a story of women's entrepreneurial success. And yet some of the greatest lessons come from businesses that fail. Masooma Habibi's Afghan electrical engineering company was a dream come true until her two partners left abruptly, taking the company profits with them. While it was a devastating blow to Habibi, it also taught her about trust, resilience and the strength of her own resolve.
One of the most demanding roles in business is learning to be an effective manager. Melody Skinner, a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women
scholar at Mills College in Oakland, Ca., has combined her real-world work experience with skills-based training to help her lead other people in the business world. Better managers, she says, are proactive, with specific ideas for employees on how to not only compensate for weaknesses, but enhance their strengths.
China is evolving from a nation known for making goods that were branded with foreign companies' identities to one that is becoming known for its own brands, like Lenovo, a global PC manufacturer. This resurgence of identity has opened up a market for new companies such as WHO2 Branding & Design, a Beijing-based firm that is helping others in China find their message and turn it into a brand.
Whether running their own businesses or advancing their careers, women from every corner of the globe often share the challenge of balancing work and family. Adrienne Barnes, a 10,000 Women
scholar who is completing her MBA at Mills College in Oakland, California, has learned to clarify her expectations -- and yet, she still wonders, "Is it right to leave the kids in daycare longer so I can go to school to better provide for them in the future?"
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