Eastern Siren

Women Empowerment

Interview with Ms. Anjum Malik

On my never ending quest to find inspirational women entrepreneurs, I came across Mrs. Anjum Malik.
She has 35+ years of experience in the fields of international education, educational consulting and business development both in the US and internationally.
Currently, she is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Alhambra US Chamber. She is also the Vice President of the House of Tutors Learning Centres & Intensive American English Institute.

Anjum’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anjum-malik-04227736/

Anjum is truly a hustler. She is invited as a panellist to several conferences both online and offline.
Despite being so busy, she still made time for an interview with Eastern Siren. I admire her stamina and enthusiasm to do so much. If you are in India between 22nd to 29th of April, you can catch her at the International Higher Education Fair 2017.

Here is a transcript of the interview.

Vinita: “So Anjum, what was your ‘Eureka’ moment? What inspired you to start the Alhambra US Chamber?”

Anjum: “I had several ‘Eureka’ moments – The first was being able to return to my professional life when my youngest child entered a childcare/learning center which was located within walking distance to my
family business. Rather than returning to my studies or to teaching, I chose to become an entrepreneur which allowed me the flexibility I needed to work around the schedule of my children. Convenient, affordable childcare and a flexible schedule so I could prioritize my family needs when necessary through becoming a co-entrepreneur with my husband gave me the ability to return to a professional life.
Entrepreneurship gave me power to have a professional life that accommodated my personal life.

The second was learning that I could succeed in new ways through joining a larger group of people committed to the same goal. There is strength in numbers and greater impact with the resources and talents of many. I am one of the founding members for the Coalition on Airline Passenger Rights . Continental Airlines lost my CARRY On bag, that is right, my Carry On, and recognizing that I was losing and depleting my personal resources against a more powerful and larger opponent , I started the Coalition and became a voice for a cause which aligned with mine.

The third was creating my own business. The Chamber was founded in 2009 and was a natural outcome of my work at HOFT/IAEI and the Airline Coalition and the appointment of a friend and colleagues, Sada
Cumbar, by President George W Bush as Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Confederation now known as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. While travelling to Washington, DC to lobby on
behalf of the Airline Coalition, I had the opportunity to meet often with the staff of the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission or SACM. SACM manages all the scholarship students from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who are studying in the United States for ESL and university studies. So at this time, I was
learning about the MENA world through our SACM students, through meetings with the SACM staff –some of whom became my dear friends – and through conversations with Sada The Chamber was founded by Ambassador Sada Cumbar, Tx Sec of State Geoffrey Connor and myself in response to the need for greater linkages between the US and the Muslim world.

My new entrepreneurial endeavour was
a culmination of my personal and professional life, generated from the relationships and ideas found in both, and my hope was and is to have greater positive impact on the world by working with others
through the Chamber.”

Vinita: “You are currently the Vice President of the House of Tutors. Do tell me more about it.”

Anjum: “House of Tutors started as an educational service provider for the University of Texas at Austin in 1980. Now it is a multidimensional organization specializing in promoting educational and cross
cultural solutions for the local and international market. At House of Tutors we offer educational consulting, accredited educational services, standardized test preparation and ESL.

Through the Intensive American English Institute (IAEI) we offer fully accredited ESL services to non-native speakers of English. The instruction is provided in a full-immersion environment and offers a customizable curriculum to meet the needs of specific industries or students from particular regions.”

Vinita: ” Why have you chosen the Education Sector?”

Anjum: ” Education is revered by my family. It has incredible value in everyone’s life – that was instilled me as a young child and it was nurtured throughout my childhood. Education was my first profession as a prof of political science in India. When I immigrated to the US with my husband, I
pursued a higher education degree with the goal of teaching in the US. When my husband became an entrepreneur it was in the education sector – this was a great opportunity at the time. I had young children. Upon realizing I could meet my childcare needs conveniently, I decided to join him in the business and hoped my experience could be translated into the skills needed by the business. And, They were. My previous commitment to the education of my students quickly transformed into a customer
service orientation that was beneficial to the business. My experience within the higher education system as a teacher gave me insights into how we could expand and improve the business.

A few years later I co founded The Chamber – it had an educational focus from the beginning. Educational exchange has been an important bridge between cultures and the future depends on our
ability to share ideas and to develop solutions to our global problems through combined efforts. Over the years, that focus for me has grown and now includes the Chamber’s participation and support of higher
education conferences globally.”

Vinita: ” On a more personal note, how have you grown as an individual, through entrepreneurship?”

Anjum: “Entrepreneurship has given me a very rich and rewarding life. Through entrepreneurship I found a way to be fully active professionally, enjoying all that a satisfying professional life can bring to any

For example, the many relationships it offers to me :

• The students and their families from my own local community and from all over the world that
keep in touch over time sharing their lives with me and often providing the business with their
support through references, ideas, connections
• The co-workers and professional colleagues — many of them also from all over the world — that I
work with everyday who bring me new experiences, expose me to new ideas and cultures

There are the many intellectual and emotional/spiritual benefits it brings:

• The joys of a life of service in a field that I believe in deeply and am passionate about
• The mental agility required to respond to and succeed in an ever-changing market; and,
• The satisfaction that comes through successfully meeting the challenges of the business while
making sure I balance my personal life developing what I can only describe as a beautiful community of friends and colleagues – people I am truly honored to know and associate with.”

Vinita: “Entrepreneurship is not easy. What obstacles have you faced along the way?

Anjum: “I recognize that the obstacles that I have faced as a professional woman have always been mitigated by the support I have received first through my parents and then through my husband, my colleagues and now my children. I have been fortunate. I realize that. Not everyone has that base to work from. My early professional life was a constant juggling act to meet the needs of my personal and professional life while raising our children.

As my children were older, I was challenged to learn how to
grow the business and overcome the obstacles of the market. During my work with the Airline Coalition, I had to learn how to overcome and win against the political power of the airline lobby to change the rules
so that they were fairer to airline passengers. When I started the Chamber, I had all the obstacles of any small business – finances, time, staffing, and market entry.

It has been in the overcoming of obstacles that I have crafted a professional life. I have often changed aspects of my life in order to respond to the obstacle and in doing so, I found a successful enhancing way
around them. This creativity, the recognition of and the ability to see your own talents and professional skills as your personal tools of innovation for the creation of your career is a topic that I have had the pleasure of sharing at a recent global conference. – I led a session- Innovate Yourself and Your Career Workshop at the Women in Leadership Series in Abu Dhabi.”

Vinita: ” What is your latest project? Could you tell us more about it?”

Anjum: “The Chamber is a strategic partner to IHEF and we are working with them to expand the internationalization of higher education to India. IHEF provides a mega platform linking prestigious higher education institutions from across the world with top notch Indian graduates who are well prepared and well-funded. Throughout the fair, from April 22-29 April we will be serving more than 250,000 students from all over India and putting them in contact with international education leaders thereby
expanding their educational opportunities at home and abroad.”

Vinita: “Before you go, what is the one piece of advice that you would give to women entrepreneurs
around the world?”

Anjum: “Find a good mentor, or better still a sponsor. I would not be where I am today without the help
and guidance from my mentors.”

Eastern Siren is an initiative dedicated to empowering women in every way possible. Issues that we focus on are: women's rights, gender equality, prevention and suspension of human trafficking, ending sexual abuse, women's health, education for all women and girls and empowering the girl child.
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