As an Iraqi woman working in academia most of my professional career, I wasn't sure what to expect from a global corporation in America, but in the few short weeks that I've been at Tupperware Brands, I have realized just how much knowledge I can bring back home in order to improve the lives of my friends, family and students in Iraq.
For the past few months, I've been a part of the Global Links program, a first-of-its kind educational program created by Tupperware Brands with the Secretary of State's Office of Global Women's Issues and Rollins College to encourage entrepreneurship among women in post-war Iraq. As part of this program, I have studied business development, women's business ownership, and entrepreneurship through specially designed coursework at Rollins College's Crummer Graduate School of Business, and now have the privilege of participating in an externship at Tupperware Brands this summer.
I've taken the lessons and skills of entrepreneurship and leadership I learned at Rollins and applied them to my daily endeavors at Tupperware Brands. I already feel more confident and empowered than ever before -- perhaps in part because I'm surrounded by many inspirational women here, which is a distinct change from the Iraqi workplace.
In my externship so far, I've shadowed professionals across a number of different departments and have learned about the roles they play. At Tupperware Brands, like many major companies in the U.S., employees are respected, appreciated and truly valued. The staff are much more than staff -- as "associates," they are invested in the company, the products, and the mission and want to help people achieve their goals.
I'm fascinated by the various departments and how they all function and work together to ensure the company's success. It's interesting to observe the process of developing products, the fundamentals of direct selling, sales force development, market analysis and product design -- my favorite department. The innovation, thought process and care that go into shaping a unique product is so impressive. I've really enjoyed watching the design team tweak and experiment with innovative ideas to make products easier and more convenient for people to use.
I've noticed a few marked differences between the American workplace and that of Iraq: the high number of women in the workplace, the exceptional facilities and the family mentality that's at the core of Tupperware Brands' business. However, despite these contrasts, I still think our two cultures are not so different after all, an important lesson that I will take away from this experience.
People are people, no matter where they live or what job they are doing. We all have the same emotions and feelings, and we must collaborate and work with each other. Globalization has given many people access to the same information and resources and has reduced the distances among the nations. It's up to us to work together.
Tupperware Brands' business model embodies this philosophy: providing great opportunities for women internationally with a clear dedication to improving the community. I've seen this community commitment in my short time at Tupperware Brands. The company offers associate volunteer opportunities, makes corporate donations and grants, and supports non-profit partnerships. It is this sense of responsibility and social consciousness that I want to bring back to Iraq. American corporations are so involved with the community, helping to create an economically stable environment that is not only better for business, but better for the world.
Because of my experiences in the Global Links program, I'm convinced that I will return to Iraq with the confidence to inspire and motivate Iraqi women entrepreneurs to succeed in the global workplace and unleash their potential to be leaders in their workplace and communities. When I return to Iraq, I plan to establish a career development center to help female students' transition to successful careers, helping them to be more confident and empowering them to be financially independent. With confidence comes influence, and with influence comes change.