Melissa Alam, a problem solver at heart, saw a space that needed to be filled in the city of Philadelphia when it came to empowering women in the workplace, so she filled it.
After graduating from Temple University and deciding the entrepreneurial road was what she wanted in life, Alam started a few projects of her own in order to fill the “void [she] saw in the local community for resources and support for women.”
The Hive, described as a “co-working space dedicated to ambitious women,” was created by Alam in the fall of 2014 and was meant to “provide women of all ages and backgrounds with a space to work and a community full of like-minded women.” It also set the stage for a multitude of networking events, seminars and workshops in order for these women to continue educating themselves and others, and develop as entrepreneurs.
Although the space has been closed since January 31, 2016, Alam hopes “to continue its mission and maybe open another space if the time is right.” However, she continues to be the editor-in-chief of Femme & Fortune, an online magazine that “provides a modern touch to the world of female entrepreneurship.” Femme & Fortune started three years ago and has created an international profile as “writers from all over the world [are contributing] to the site.”
With success in both endeavors, Alam organized and hosted an event entitled “Fearless Conference” that brought over 100 women together in one place to learn and grow together. Important topics relating to women and business were discussed, such as “knowing your worth as a woman, personal branding, work/life balance and self empowerment.” Alam said that “(she) really wanted for this conference to be an eye-opener for women as well as a day for attendees to learn and feel inspired by seasoned professionals.”
Recently, Alam hosted another workshop named “The Boss Lady Burnout” in response to a trend she noticed among the women in business around her. “They were complaining about issues at work, stressed about clients, etc. [and] I figured that this event would be a great time for everyone to come together and just chat about the goals, struggles and issues they face on a daily basis.”
Alam thinks that the event was a success and provided the attendees with some “fresh, new clarity for their [lives],” which is part of the reason Alam enjoys hosting such events. “I love hosting workshops and bringing the community together,” she said, “it is so important to feel that connection and support from one another, and I hope to continue doing so wherever I go.”
Women continue to face problems of gender inequality in the workplace according to Alam: “I think it’s ridiculous that women are still getting paid less than men in most industries and that we are not always taken seriously in the workplace.” As for women who take charge, they are often labeled as “being too bossy or some other irrelevant term” that does not have any specific meaning.
In light of this, Alam is looking to have a positive impact on this issue through her actions, and many of her business endeavors support and empower women in the professional sphere.
She is excited and enthusiastic about her most recent role as the Digital Director for Spoonful Magazine, “a new, independent, quarterly print magazine on food and entertaining,” which launched this past January.
When it comes to her future, she says that “(she is) going through somewhat of a spiritual reset right now, taking some time to travel and figure out the next steps.” She goes on to say that she hopes to one day run a local business on a small island.
Alam also talks about how other women have helped her to get where she is today: “I did get a lot of great support and feedback from women around me, which helped inspire me more throughout the creation of my businesses,” and she wants to guide other women to fill the position of power as she did.
“Position of power is not a term we should be afraid of, we should embrace it, aim for it, stay focused, work super hard and put out intentions of what you want to achieve and how,” says Alam, “that has helped me with my career, and I have never been happier.”
Author: Shengling Zhu
I am a student from Columbia University, pursuing Double Degree of Columbia and Sciences Po Paris, which is also called Paris Institute of Political Studies (IEP). Majoring in economics-political science, I’m particularly interested in international relations, comparative politics, as well as political economy.Having studied French for almost ten years, before I came to NY I spent most of my life in Shanghai, China and three years in France: one-year-exchange in a local high school in Lyon and two years in the university after I was enrolled in the Double Degree program. I’ve been studying in Columbia since fall 2015.I am aware of both the communicability of individual experience and the difference in their contexts. It is therefore interesting for me to reach out to women from various background, in order to share their initiatives and to find out how can their stories inspire female leadership in other communities, and how can women neutralize or even overcome social difference to raise their voices in professional fields.