In honor of Women’s History Month, Abinta Malik, a senior vice president, talks about what it means to be a female business leader today.
Growing up, I only really had two big passions in life. One was to “save the world” and the other was my obsession with apparel.
My family background is in nonprofit – my father worked with the United Nations – so I spent my whole life moving. Every three or four years we lived in a different country. I was exposed to various languages, and cultures, and I had a lot of exposure to the economic plight of the rest of the world.
I also give a lot of credit to my mother, whom I consider the most influential woman I know and admire. She was a homemaker and she always made us feel happy, content and well taken care of as we hopped around the globe. Today she is the head of two nonprofit organizations back in Pakistan, one for mental health and one for artisans. Pretty amazing woman.
Before joining Gap, I was able to work for a nonprofit myself, focusing on women’s issues in Northern Pakistan. I have always been a big believer in women’s rights, and I was happy to see the U.S. government pass a law that both strengthened and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
We don’t spend enough time recognizing women and acknowledging what women have done around the world.
When I closed the chapter on my nonprofit work, it was only natural to then follow my other passion and come to Gap. Being a female leader in such a large company, in such a large business? Sometimes I wake up and am surprised that it all worked out that way.
I’m often asked what advice I’d have for a young woman beginning her career. My answer is simple: Work hard. Definitely work hard. Don’t take things for granted. Embrace the different experiences and make yourself better from all of those experiences.