It was difficult for me to make that decision, as I had to leave everything behind including my great career, family, business, achievements and luxury life.
Nazli Nadem is the CEO of HopHR, Data Science talent marketplace based in Silicon Valley. She is a Femigrant from Iran.
Five years ago Nazli came to the U.S. with her husband and older son, Rayan. She left her motherland due the country’s economic and political situation. Nazli and her husband decided to pursue Master’s degrees from Golden Gate University, as they both were accepted to the same graduate school. As a female immigrant, it wasn’t easy for Nazli to start everything from scratch in a new country. “It was difficult for me to make that decision, as I had to leave everything behind including my great career, family, business, achievements and luxury life. I had lots of challenges when I moved to the States. I didn’t know anybody, any place and wasn’t familiar with the U.S. education system. Studying for a Master’s degree was not an easy attempt for me. I felt shy of my English accent by seeing native English speaking people when I started my school. I studied hard by doing lots of research, practicing English, and spending 4-5 hours per day prior to my each presentation.” Being a mother of a three year old child, without any family support was another challenging experience for her. She had to leave her kid in preschool for such long hours and go to university early mornings so that she could have enough time to prepare her school assignments, explore the new environment, build a network and find other successful Iranian Americans. She attended different events in Silicon Valley about business and entrepreneurship, and took extra classes at Stanford University.
After graduating from Golden State University she got a job offer from a recruiting company in Santa Clara. While working there she realized that there were lots of gaps in hiring and recruiting industry. This encouraged her to think and find out the ways that she could fill the gaps in the recruiting system. After 3 months with the recruiting company, she decided to accept an offer from another recruiting company; however, she resigned from the second company on her first day because she realized that the company demanded her to do something that wasn’t mentioned in her responsibilities. “My manager underestimated my qualities saying that I don’t have any other choices as I don’t have the U.S. work experience, and my Iranian experience is not worth anything here. I remember that day I cried all the way home because I felt that I was insulted. In that moment I promised myself that I have to trust myself and build my own company. I felt in my heart that this bitter incident has a message for me- It should be a beginning of a sweet journey. I recalled several conversations that I had with my husband and we always wanted to start our own company but were waiting for the right moment and great idea. I knew that I have so much talent that I can offer to the new society.”
It took Nazli a year to build her business as she got pregnant with her second baby and used that period to do a deep market research of recruiting industry. Her research helped her to learn more about the painpoints in the hiring industry and find a solution. She established her company, a platform for hiring data scientists, machine learning and AI talent. “The entrepreneurship journey is not easy, it is unlike any other thing that you can experience. It is like a roller-coast of emotions, incidents and challenges, and you have to be really well equipped.”
What made me be more successful is I never sat at home and waited for somebody to knock at my door and help me. I was telling myself that it would be better next time, and actually it did become better.
It took Nazli a lot of courage and patience to build her own business and become a successful business woman. “It was super hard with the newborn baby to start a new business. I was going to the meetings with my baby, stroller, diaper, etc. and had to re-schedule multiple meetings so that I could feed my baby and take care of him. I felt that I was becoming stronger. When you have too much on your plate you have to prioritize things. Every night before going to bed I was cooking food, doing the cleaning, and preparing my stuff for the next day. What made me be more successful is I never sat at home and waited for somebody to knock at my door and help me. I was the one always looking for the opportunity and I was longing for growth. I was always attending networking events, inviting people to have a coffee with me, explaining my ideas and visions. Being open hearted and sharing my ideas helped me find the way and build a strong network. I was never afraid of sharing my ideas and vision with people. It helped me receive valuable feedback and helpful information, which allowed me to significantly improve my company.
Nazli said that she prepared for every meeting in advance. She was planning conversations that she would have while attending the same events several times until she became comfortable. “They say, fake it until you make it! It is true. I was telling myself that it would be better next time, and actually it did become better. The more I practiced, the more I became experienced.
One of my most important advice for Femigrants is: before doing anything, take three to four months to prepare, equip, and get to know yourself and your potential, and then put yourself out there, ask for help and be helpful to other people. You will need this self-knowledge and understanding along the way! I am very comfortable now, including starting conversations with strangers or business people, representing my company or just making friendships. I always tell my friends not to look for the easy path; there is no shortcut to real success. If you want long-term success you need to invest lots of time and effort and take steady steps toward your goals without skipping any moments. You should trust yourself and you must pave your own path. Give people permission to have doubt in you but you must believe in yourself and learn how to identify and ignore self-sabotaging conversations.
Although Nazli became a very successful businesswoman, she still has big dreams to achieve. Nazli’s good time management skills are key in her success. She successfully runs her business, attends various conferences and events, spends time with family and friends, and still works hard on developing herself professionally. “I have big goals now but I believe that I have to take small steps, I am very positive, determined and hardworking. The question that I ask myself every single day is: ‘what did I give to world today?’ And every night before going to bed I promise myself that tomorrow I’m going do better than today. Tomorrow will be better than today.”
Editors: Aygun Dadashova and Em Elle