Holly Gordon is executive director of 10×10. She sets the strategy and leads the day-to-day operations to “Educate Girls, Change the World” as a global campaign for girls’ education. She is also an executive producer for the film at the center of the 10×10 campaign, Girl Rising. We asked her a few questions about how her career path led her to her current passion.
Q: How did your professional career begin, and how did you end up where you are today?
A: My professional career began on a trip to India right after college graduation. I lugged a manual typewriter in my backpack and somewhere between Dharamsala and Amritsar, I had an epiphany: you could be paid for traveling the world and seeing interesting things and telling other people about it. And so began my passion for journalism. I rushed back to New York City and slept on a friend’s sofa until I landed a job at ABC News. The path from there to here has been driven by a desire to tell interesting, meaningful stories and to share information that can help others live better lives.
Q: Can you name a leader for whom you have great respect and tell us why?
A: Hillary Clinton, because she has suffered huge private and public blows and set-backs, and endured as much scrutiny for her hair as her policies, and yet she rises every morning and continues to fight tooth and nail for a world where women and girls have equal opportunities to men and boys. She is brave, smart, and determined and enormously generous of spirit.
Q: As a leader in your company, what is the best piece of advice you would offer to a new employee to help them succeed?
A: Once you have a clear understanding of your job and responsibilities, work like crazy to exceed expectations and to solve problems. Remember that the details matter.
Q: What would you say has been your driving force in your staying power in a male-dominated industry?
A: I haven’t spent much time thinking about male domination. Rather, I have kept a focus on what I can do and achieve and how I can avoid being held up along the way. I’ve also learned to advocate forcefully for myself.
Q: As a seasoned professional, how do you share your experience with your team on a daily basis?
A: I try to communicate in a frank and open way, often telling stories of past experiences—success and failures—to give them a sense that everything can turn out OK in the end, even when faced with huge challenges. I also am the queen of metaphors.
Q: What is the one thing you make time for in your daily life that helps keeps you refreshed and positive?
A: I try to make time for some kind of exercise and to read to my kids.