by Silvana Gargione
As the founder and creator of TEDxKish, Mojdeh Eskandari speaks of her life as a series of events rather than choices – she openly and happily notes that “life always had different plans for me than I did. I simply learned to leverage those plans”. Although she is a highly educated and accomplished woman, the road on that journey was filled with side-steps and leaps of faith. Her path is an inspiration to women everywhere, and her admirable career is proof that hard work and perseverance really do pay off.
Ms. Eskandari is a leader and self-proclaimed ‘workaholic’, and those qualities clearly began long before TEDxKish. When she was unable to pursue her dream of becoming a judge after the HS requirements changed, she began higher education in mechanical engineering. When the war started while she was pursuing mechanical engineering degree in Iran, she found that France would give her a Visa and studied the french language for 3 years before she could attend ESSEC. In France she began a career working in the high tech industry, met her husband, was married, and had her first child.
This workaholic pace continued for 7 years after moving to the Bay Area, until something unexpected happened: Mojdeh’s child mentioned that mom was never home. Although providing for her family was historically her priority, she immediately chose to leave her job and shift her priorities to filling the roll of mother: she notes that her goal everyday was to “learn something new but always be home when the kids got home from school”. While this shift in gears is not an uncommon struggle that working women must face, and Mojdeh handled it with grace and strength.
It is natural, then, that TEDxKish came through another unexpected series of events. After very actively volunteering with TEDxOrangeCoast, she was approached to be the founder of the first ever TEDx event in Iran. It was a massive undertaking full of uncertain terms for someone who hadn’t been in that country for 20+ years, but Mojdeh took it all in stride: this became an opportunity to allow herself to reconnect and for her children to connect for the first time with Iran.
Although daunting at times, accepting the role was not a difficult decision for her. She notes “I thought to myself…what if a young person in Iran has a great idea, but no outlet for it? What would happen if they had that same idea while living in Silicon Valley? What would become possible?”
Last year she led the first ever TEDx event in Iran, on the island of Kish – an event that even she herself admits seemed impossible. With over two dozen speakers in English and Farsi, workshops, groups, discussion panels and winners of the “Ideas in Action” prize, it is clear that Iran was ready for TEDx to bring much needed inspiration, collaboration, and hope from the outside world. Not surprising, TEDxKish 2015 was an outrageously successful event, with Ms. Eskandari noting, “TEDxKish provided context and validation for so many young people, and proved that the country of Iran is ready to connect.”
Senses Cultural is grateful that women like Mojdeh Eskandari exist. With driven, intelligent women to lead in the workplace as well as in the role of motherhood, Senses is confident that the next generation of women is bound for success.