An Evening with Farah Ramzan Golant

Last week we heard from Farah Ramzan Golant, a fierce, inspiring (and yet gently self-aware) truth-teller who has spent 27 years working in the global creative industry. She’s held CEO posts at two major media companies, served on the Prime Minister’s business advisory group, and now, as the CEO of Girl Effect, she steers the nonprofit in developing digital media that challenges and inspires girls living in poverty. “We believe in girls as transformers and agents of change, not as passive beneficiaries,” she says – and we couldn’t agree more.

Here’s what else we learned from Farah.

Tell Your Truth to Cope with Turmoil
Just after Farah became CEO of the media company where she’d worked for almost two decades, she faced a professional storm. Three of the organisation’s biggest clients put their contracts out to bid — at the same time. Outwardly, she needed to lead. Inwardly, she felt a sense of “crazy chaos.” How did she deal?

“I told my close confidantes, ‘I’m mad with grief.’” This small “blood-letting” allowed her to let go of the stress – and get to work. (She won back all three bids.)

Listen to the Most Important Voice
Maybe you know the moment: In a male-dominated meeting, a colleague suggests the women fetch lunch while deliberations continue. For Farah, this very experience brought a “real shaft of insight” midway through her career. Yes, her blood began to boil, but then clarity came. “Those words don’t define me; they define him … Nobody will ever define me by their words. I define myself.”

Find (And Be) a Role Model
It’s as true for the young women empowered by Girl Effect as it is for us: “Having a role model is a fundamental human need … someone who inspires you, opens your mind, and makes you feel safe.” For Farah, who’s a “big believer in young voices,” mentorship isn’t a one-way street. She learns greatly from the mentees who think they’re just learning from her.

Stop Striving for that Elusive Work-Life Balance
“I’ve searched for it and haven’t found it,” she says. “It’s too hard to try to live two lives.” Instead, Farah’s learned to embrace “cycles”: seasons when she allows work or family to take precedence, knowing one will eventually give way to the other. “When I’m all in, I’m all in,” she says, adding that she also takes “holidays with a vengeance” (no work email allowed).

Remove the Urgency
What would she have done differently during her early work years? “Lived it rather than inhaling it,” she says. “I’m not sure what the rush was.” Now, she aims to live the moment, carrying the same authentic self into any situation. “I also might’ve laughed a bit more and lightened up.”

Thank you, Farah, for inspiring us to own our value, to tell our truth, and to find a new kind of balance.