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Mariana missakian

Mariana missakian

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

Hello, I am Mariana Missakian, and I am an Amazon Best-Selling author. I am Armenian. I was born in Beirut and moved to Dubai when I was 18. That was 23 years ago. I am a former #bosslady in stilettos. I spent my 20’s and 30’s travelling the world, working for Fortune 500 companies, making great things happen. Now, in my 40’s I make people happen. I initiate conversations that matter - on women, on leadership and on identity - and I provide safe spaces and stages for women and young leaders to trust their voice and believe in their story. In 2021 I published my first book, a satire memoir on identity “That Suburbia Lady”. The book is a collection of 40 short stories, about a full-time mom navigating through the seasons of life to find her identity stripped from job and title.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

My favorite Ellevate Network memory was the first ever meeting I attended. I walked into a room full of remarkable women, sharing knowledge and connecting on a deeper and a meaningful level, paving the way to lead authentically, with impact and on purpose. That was two years ago, and still every meeting I attend feels just like that very first one. The energy, the conversations, and the relentlessness of the members to be the change they want to see in the world, is unwavering and infectious. The energy, the connections, the drive, and the determination of the members to mobilize each other to shape the culture of business and change the narrative on women leadership. I joined Ellevate Network, because Ellevate provides the safe space women need to come together, to share genuine stories, and mobilize each other to shape the culture of business and change the narrative on women leadership.

How would you define your professional mission?

My purpose is to enable women to embrace their stories and to share them proudly.

Two years ago, I realized that more than 80% of published leadership books are written by men who manage men in mostly male dominated organizations. So I asked myself then: “How would the stories, point of views, behaviors, tips, and tricks illustrated in these books, truthfully and accurately, be applicable, appropriate, and valid to women leaders?” How can stories told by men, for men about men (mostly and frequently), help women in their leadership journey?

We need more women to speak up. We need more women to tell us where they come from and how they got here. Which obstacles and challenges they faced, and how they overcame them. How they failed and stood up again. We need more women to use their voice to tell us their side of the story, to inspire, enable, and empower other women to grow as leaders. It’s by telling our stories that we understand who we are, and it is only by understanding who we are that we are able to grow as authentic leaders and mobilize each other to grow together.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?

Discipline, consistency, and patience. I was not born a writer. I became one. I was not born a speaker either. I became one too. I am not a storyteller by accident. I became one because I had a story to tell, and I spent time and effort learning how to master the art and science of storytelling in order to do it to the best of my capabilities. It took me 3 years to write my book. 6 hours a day. 5 days a week. Writing is a muscle, and similar to an athlete the writing muscle needs to be constantly practiced and refined.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The women I meet, the stories we share and the conversations we have. These conversations fill me with joy, hope and love. As women, it is so important to embrace our stories unapologetically, and to use our voice to connect through personal stories, because stories help move the narrative from the story of one to the story of many. These stories connect us and help us understand ourselves and each other better, so together we challenge the status quo, and in the process, we define who we are, who we want to become and what kind of future we want to create together.

What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?

I worked for 15 years, and I received many awards for achieving remarkable success in building global brands. However, after 15 years, I realized I didn’t want to attach my success, my legacy, to M&A’s, KPI’s and awards, because, and as all my bosses used to constantly remind me, “You are as good as your last deal.”

I hope my legacy will be the people I meet, and the conversations we have that guide them to design a life based on their identity, individuality, and community, and to choose how they want their story to end.

Who are your role models?

My role model is Jawsinder Mallah. Jawsinder, is a warrior woman, a widow from Panjab, India, who attended one of my storytelling classes in 2020. A few days later Jawsinder sent me a message to say that she started writing the stories of imprisoned mothers and their children who are raised in jails in India. Jawsinder, is my hero, and she inspires me every day, because at the age of 70 she has the courage and the grit, to represent the voices of those who have no voice.

What is your morning ritual?

I get up at 5AM every morning, so that i get to enjoy some me-time before I need to wake up my son at 6 to get him ready for school. The first thing I do every morning, is give thanks to 3 things I am grateful for and set the intention for the day and open my heart and mind to receive the blessings and the lessons of the day. I then check my messages and emails, and catchup on news and celebrity gossip, my guilty pleasure.

What would you say your personal superpower is?

According to my son, my superpower is my hug, because it has the ability to heal any booboo. And so, I try and hug every person I meet (so grateful that we are able to hug again). We never know what someone is going through, and sometimes all we need is a hug; a tight squeeze to tell us we are seen, we are heard, and we matter.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?

Trust your instinct.

Being a mom, a working mom, a full-time mom or a single mom, is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong formula, and there is no one blueprint that binds us all mothers to a happily ever after. Quoting the Kenyan author and activist Shailja Patel, “We all have the same 24 hours. Use public transport? Your 24 hours are not the same as those of private jet owners. Do your own cooking, cleaning, child raising? Your 24 hours are not the same as those of someone with full-time domestic staff.”

Everyone around us will have an opinion, without knowing our situation, and so it’s important that we design a life with what we have, and with what works for our family, based on our values, commitments, and responsibilities, without any guilt, regret, and blame. A life that looks like us, feels like us, and moves like us.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

Community Discussion
imane mastfi
imane mastfi

I loved reading your spotlight section - and I only discovered your profile through the Book Club - 'That suburbia lady' - which resonates soooo much with me as I left my career few months ago, and I always long for a community or few people who can relate to the 'struggle' of defining oneself/ being proud of the new self as a self, after a long period of being a 'titleownerfromacompany'. I am glad we are part of Ellevate and hope to meet you in person in 1 of the events!!

Wednesday, Nov 23 2:34 AM EST