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A mogul in her own right, 29-year-old Tiffany Pham is changing the world with her exchange and information platform for women. Based in New York City, her company Mogul has offices in San Francisco and in Paris, where she lived as a child before moving to the United States with her family. Mogul is as much her grandmother’s legacy as it is hers, since Tiffany was inspired at an early age by her grandmother’s efforts to provide information access to those who needed it by running newspapers across Asia. In this exclusive interview and career profile with Culture Magazin, Tiffany explains how she got to where she is today.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
My family had been in media for generations. Early on, I made a promise that I would dedicate my life to this legacy of providing information access to the world. I learned the English language through films, books and radio, as a young girl. This helped reinforce what a powerful tool media could be for learning and for change.
After graduating from Yale and Harvard Business School, I held three jobs concurrently. I worked at CBS, within TV and radio, collaborated with the vice-mayor of Beijing on a new venture bridging cultural gaps between the U.S. and China, and produced feature films and documentaries highlighting social issues that needed more global awareness.
What inspired you to create Mogul?
Young women around the world read about me in magazines, such as the article “30 Under 30” in Forbes in 2014. I received hundreds of letters – eventually thousands – asking for advice. “What articles are you reading every day?” they would ask. “What videos are you watching?”
I realized that women needed a platform to exchange insights from the ground level, where we could share our careers, lives and journeys. From that exchange of information, we could gain access to knowledge from one another and become that much stronger and better.
Describe the process of building Mogul.
Every day, I would work on my three jobs, and then at night, at 3 a.m., I would sit down at the kitchen table and just teach myself how to code Ruby on. No matter how challenging it was, I would remind myself that if I could teach myself how to code, I could help to change the lives of women around the world.
After several weeks of coding, I had built the first iteration of Mogul. And when it launched, it launched to a million users within the first week – becoming one of the fastest-growing platforms for women ever.
Now, Mogul is a worldwide platform that reaches more than 18 million women across 196 countries, enabling them to connect and share information.
What was the biggest challenge that you faced in building Mogul?
For the first two years, building the organization’s internal infrastructure to support external growth was the strongest challenge. We had to retroactively build the infrastructure because I was a one-person team upon launch.
Over time, I was able to bring on board the rest of our world-class team. Our departments are led by some of my greatest friends and business collaborators. Our infrastructure has been fortified. We consist of more than 2,000 influencers, 3,000 global ambassadors (college students) 5,000 Mogul mentors, and 20,000 partners.
Describe a typical day at the office for you.
Every single day is different. I might do interviews with Hungarian, South Korean, Hong Kong, and Norwegian press in the morning. Then, Skype into Afghanistan to share the story of Mogul with a girls’ school. The next hour might be spent with the prince of Saudi Arabia, discussing collaborations to support women across the Middle East. After, I might cater a company-wide lunch to welcome a new hire and celebrate team birthdays.
In the afternoon I might head to a Fortune 500 partner to discuss how our Mogul At Work department will support their female employees, such as by providing access to mentorship or unconscious bias training. Then, I might meet with our Mogul Studios department to prepare for the premiere of our new series “Ask A Mogul Anything,” executive produced by the Emmy Award-winning producer of Good Morning America. Finally, I might be keynote speaker at an Eleanor Roosevelt Fund dinner, sharing the story of Mogul with their brilliant girls who are now becoming Influencers and Global Ambassadors on the platform. I am grateful that I get to call this my usual day at Mogul – full of excitement, passion and global impact.
In your opinion, what is behind Mogul’s success?
Our team, our users, and our collective friendships are the concrete drivers of Mogul’s success. From the very beginning, women all around the world have supported Mogul’s mission, standing alongside us as we lead this movement. These strong and authentic relationships are what have led Mogul to become widely regarded as the next generation media company for women.
This is our back-to-school issue. What can you share on the topic of education?
One-on-one mentorship across life and career matters is essential to growth.
We recently established a partnership with the United Nations for our Mogul At Work program, named one of the top areas for online mentorship and learning alongside Harvard Business School and Coursera. We provide women with a mentorship channel that they can email 24/7 with questions and from which they receive an immediate response back, accompanied by 10 award-winning courses developed by experts.
The United Nations provides free access to 62 million girls around the world, such as in India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Kenya, and Canada, in need of this valuable resource.
Choosing a future career can be perplexing. What is your advice to students? Do what you love, do what you’re good at, or do what pays the bills?
It is important not to give up on your passions. In fact, the ideal is that you are so passionate about this subject matter that you immerse yourself and become known as a thought leader, an expert.
Early on, identify the industry you would want to be in, what type of leader you aim to be, and figure out your weak spots.
At your first job, hone your skill sets through collaborations or side projects. For example, if you need more management experience, but are presently an associate at a company and managing a team is not currently possible, contact nonprofits around the city within your industry and offer your expertise for their special projects. If the opportunity is available, manage the project’s team of volunteers. Remember to also ask for such opportunities at work. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Always be resilient. You will hear “No,” but that could mean “Not right now.” Keep going until you hear “Yes.”
What are some words of advice for aspiring youth working hard to pursue their goals?
In terms of technology, establish what you would like to accomplish in 10 years, then backwards from five years to now. Whatever it is you would like to create, rapidly prototype the idea. Then, listen to others. Incorporate their feedback so long as it is not misaligned with your vision. Over time, work towards perfection. Don’t be held up by the need to be perfect now.
In terms of talent, collaborate for access. Find industry leaders with whom your interests might resonate, and obtain warm introductions through mutual connections. Find opportunities that might enable you to collaborate with them in order to learn. Whatever task you’re given, whatever partnership you agree to, ensure that you over-deliver. Earn their trust and build a genuine friendship.
In terms of community, be kind. Be authentic. Be generous. Stay in touch with “why” you wanted to start this company in the first place, and why it’s important for the world.