Simmons Leadership Blog

Rana Foroohar on Jumping the Curve


Award-winning journalist Rana Foroohar is assistant managing editor of TIME magazine, overseeing business and economic coverage across all platforms. Her Curious Capitalist column, covering the intersection of the global economy and Main Street, has become a must-read for economic and political thought leaders. Foroohar previously served as Newsweek's deputy editor in charge of international business and economics, as well as the magazine's economic correspondent covering Europe and the Middle East. Known for her high-level yet accessible analysis of national and world events, she is a frequent commentator on business for CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC, and regularly chairs panel discussions with world leaders, intellectuals, and economists at the World Economic Forum. Foroohar is currently a contributor to The Daily Beast and can be heard weekly on the New York public radio show, Money Talking.

Every woman faces turning points in her career. We asked Leadership Conference speaker Rana Foroohar to share her advice on "jumping the curve" to become a leader in your field:

What woman do you most admire? What has she taught you?
At the moment it's Fed chair Janet Yellen. Not only is she one of the smartest and most thoughtful economists I've ever met, she's absolutely committed to using her position for the benefit of working people and average Americans, rather than for a power elite. As someone who's managed to navigate a very political world without becoming enmeshed in it, she's taught me a lot about staying above the fray and remaining committed to your ideas, rather than to status. She's also a great example of how to project soft power.

Was there a turning point in your career when you "jumped the curve," breaking an old pattern to change the course of your career? What did you learn from that experience?The turning point in my career was deciding to step off the behind-the-scenes managerial track and become a brand and a public intellectual in my own right. It was a tough decision,because it meant giving up hiring power and some amount of shaping power at the magazine, but it was the right one for me. Being a columnist rather than a manager has allowed me the opportunity to write, build a TV and radio career, work on a book, and speak to influential audiences like this one. It's also given me the flexibility I need to raise my two small children and spend time with my husband, which is harder to do when you are in management and beholden to other people's schedules.

What's the best piece of career advice you've gotten along the way?
Best career advice came from my very first boss (a woman): Sometimes it doesn't matter what decision you make, as long as you make one.
What was the last book you read?
I just finished "Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire," which I read while on holiday in Nevis, one of the former sugar-growing islands in the West Indies. It gave me a lot of perspective into the ongoing economic development challenges and issues of inequality in the Caribbean. I've just started "On Such a Full Sea," by Chang-rae Lee, which also covers issues of inequality, but in the form of a dystopian novel of the future.
How do you think women can support each other on their path to success?
I try to make a real effort to speak to younger women realistically about the challenges of various job paths. I think it's important that they think not just about what they want to do, but what it will pay, how much flexibility it will offer, etc.
Any tips for work/life balance?
Control your own schedule! See my second point above.

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