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When They Were 25: Women in Business

When They Were 25: Women in Business

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    Jul 16, 2015   Author : admin

f you’re in your 20s and feel stuck in a dead-end job, or you’ve been passed over for promotion at work, you might believe your career is going nowhere. But take a few moments to reflect on the backgrounds of the rich and famous. What were they doing at 25?

According to, “While some people enter their mid-twenties with a sense of maturity and accomplishment, others undergo a quarter-life crisis as they reflect upon their past decades of  youth. Fortunately, some of the richest and most successful women in history did not hit their stride until later in life.  For some, a termination from their jobs propelled them into their future careers (see Oprah and Steve Jobs).  For others, their job at 25 had little bearing if anything on their future success.  So to you who may be 25 or older, there is hope after all!  No flaw is fatal, and all of the experiences you have gone through have contributed and will contribute to make you who you were always meant to be.

The following is a glimpse into what these successful women were doing when they were 25.”

Ursula Burns

The current CEO of Xerox grew up in a New York City housing complex with her mother, a single parent.  At the age of 23, she graduated from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, having already gained a Bachelor’s degree in the same subject from the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering.  Because of her stellar math and engineering skills she was immediately hired by Xerox, first as a summer intern and then as a full-time employee. She spent the remainder of her twenties working in various roles in product development and planning, but later was promoted to executive assistant and moved up the ranks to become the first African-American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 2009.

Sheryl Sandberg

According to Business Insider, by the age of 25 Sandberg had graduated at the top of her economics class from Harvard, worked at the World Bank under her former professor, mentor and the future Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and had gone back to Harvard to get her MBA, which she received in 1995 with the highest distinction.

She later worked at the prestigious McKinsey & Co. consultancy firm.  When Larry Summers' Chief of Staff was appointed Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, Sandberg became Summers’ Chief of Staff.

Before she joined Facebook as its Chief Operating Officer (she met the founder, Mark Zuckerberg, at a Christmas party and was soon hired), she worked at Google as the Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations Chief Operating Officer. 

Marissa Meyer

It seems like successful women get their start at Google.  Mayer joined Google in 1999, when she was 24.  She was the company's twentieth employee and first female engineer. In those days she had to be vetted by everyone in the office, so she had to return the next day for a second round of interviews.  She stayed with the company for 13 years before moving on to her current role as CEO of Yahoo.

Reflecting on her days at Google, she says that “During my interviews, which were in April of 1999, Google was a seven-person company. I arrived and I was interviewed at a ping-pong table which was also the company's conference table, and it was right when they were pitching for venture capitalist money, so actually after my interview Larry and Sergey left and took the entire office with them.”

Martha Stewart

At 25, Martha Stewart was not setting tables and baking bread.  Instead, she started out as a model for Unilever and Chanel, and then worked as a stockbroker on Wall Street for the firm of Monness, Williams & Sidel, the original Oppenheimer & Co., where she worked for five years.  

"There were very few women at the time on Wall Street… and people talked about this glass ceiling, which I never even thought about," Stewart said in an interview with PBS' MAKERS series. "I never considered myself an unequal and I think I got a very good education being a stockbroker."

In 1972 Stewart left Wall Street to stay at home and take care of her children. A year later she started a catering business, and that business helped her develop the now ubiquitous Martha Stewart brand.

Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire with the invention of Spanx – a control undergarment or shapewear for women.

Like many young people in their mid-twenties, Blakely found herself working seemingly insignificant jobs.  After working at Disney World as a ride greeter, Blakely went on to sell fax machines door-to-door for an office supply company.  Because of her business acumen and successes in sales, she was eventually promoted to the position of national sales trainer when she was 25 years old.  Throughout her various jobs, she loathed wearing tights in the Florida heat.  However, she noticed that they effectively smoothed out the “lumps and bumps” when worn under her trousers.  It was then that Sarah got an idea.

When she was 29, she used the $5,000 that she had scrupulously saved and put aside to launch her idea.  She researched hosiery patents and tried to find the right material for her product, only to be turned down by many companies – except one in North Carolina. She decided to call her invention Spanx.  When Oprah named Spanx one of her “Favourite Things,” Blakely’s idea finally took off.  Sales for Spanx went through the roof, making Sara Blakely a very rich woman.


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Written by MYC Writer Simone M. Samuels

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