Spotlight on Leading Women in Telecoms | TelecomDrive.com
From leaving Iran as a refugee to Germany in 1986, moving to the US in the year 1989, to establishing herself in the city of Los Angeles – Bita Milanian’s inspirational journey is nothing less than incredible. Always leading from the front, she has worked with a number of organizations and by sheer hard work and an innovative spirit, created a special place for herself in the technology-oriented global telecoms domain.
As part of Disruptive Telecoms July 2022 cover story on ‘Leading Women in Telecoms’ – Bita Milanian, SVP, Global Marketing, Ribbon Communications speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about her professional and personal journey.
What has been your professional journey so far? Please tell us about your various job profiles?
My professional journey has been incredibly rewarding, challenging, and everything in between. Ever since I left Iran as a refugee to Germany in 1986 and then immigrated to US (Los Angeles) in 1989, I have strived to make the best life that I could for myself and my family. Each day, I hope to make a meaningful impact in the place I call home.
I’ve grown as a strategic marketer, holding leadership positions in various telecom and non-profit organizations. I am currently the SVP of Global Marketing for Ribbon (rbbn.com), a publicly traded global communications company. Prior to joining Ribbon, I was the founding Executive Director at Farhang Foundation (farhang.org), a non-profit promoting Iranian art and culture for the benefit of the community at large. I am also the founder of the creative agency, Butterfly Buzz (bflybuzz.com), where I engage in projects that support up-and-coming artists and non-profits in increasing their profiles and optimizing their brands.
What is the meaning of success to you, how important it is for you? And what is your mantra to succeed in an organization?
Success for me is being able to use my natural gifts and talents to positively influence and/or impact a person or a cause that is important to me. Success in an organization requires a high level of trust amongst your teammates to do their part in reaching set goals. At the same time, success means taking risks and seeing mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow.
According to you what are some of the most critical factors that have helped you become a leader in your organisation?
I am not afraid to fail. I have an entrepreneurial spirit, which has helped me take calculated risks that have garnered some major wins for the organizations I am a part of. I encourage the same mindset with my team and believe everyone can come to the table with a great idea! I also understand how to create buy-in around a shared vision. I can rally a team behind a project and/or cause, even when circumstances are tough.
When you look back in your career – what according to you can be termed as big turning points for you? How have these turning points helped you gain ground professionally?
Every change of experience has been pivotal to career momentum. I am a big believer in “just say yes” when it comes to challenges, and when I take on new challenges, I am fearless because I am positive that with enough deep thought, hard work and determination my team and I can find the way to make things work.
I am fortunate to be part of one of the most dynamic and continually disrupted industries in the world – technology – and while the pressure to respond to shifting market conditions can be daunting, it is in fact what drives me, my team, my colleagues, and my network to get creative – competitive – and active. While there have been distinct milestones and accomplishments over the last twenty-five years that span my career, there is not a single major project that has not been a big turning point. This is a great time in history to be a lifelong learner, especially when the work being done in the technology sector has so much potential to make life better for millions and even billions of people.
What are some of the challenges that you faced and overcome during your professional journey? How did you overcome these challenges?
Like many immigrants to America, I have faced the same challenges others have; as a woman moving in what has been traditionally seen as a “man’s world” I have had to do what every smart and successful woman in technology has had to do: work even harder, deliver beyond what is expected of me, and lean in with a quiet, but firm intensity.
Because I am so committed to ensuring world-class quality across every project and communications platform and product my team and I create, one of the biggest challenges I faced earlier in my career was work-life balance. I am proud to say I have now mastered the art and science of being fully human and full of happiness – as a daughter, sister, wife, friend, community organizer, and – most recently grandmother.
We all need to take care of our physical and mental health, to find time to rest and reflect, and to refuel so we can be our best and help as many people as we can, while guarding our health and happiness so that we can continue to achieve success in all life’s dimensions.
Please share with us some of your positive learnings that you have gained over the past many years and how these learnings have helped you become a better person / professional?
I have learned to appreciate the present moment. All we have is right now, and I have made it a priority to focus on that instead of dwelling in the past or constantly thinking about the future. This allows me to be more intentional in every business and personal decision I make and give my undivided attention to whoever I am with.
With greater level of experience comes greater level of responsibility and often this also involves grooming others, passing on your legacy ahead. Keeping this in mind, how do you look at helping others in your organization towards achieving success?
I hope to remind others that the value of old-fashioned hard work is here to stay! No matter what technology develops, people who put in the effort and consistently take action will be the ones who rise to the top. I also hope to ensure that everyone, especially those from diverse backgrounds, have a seat at the table, and are provided with the tools and resources to grow as leaders.
What are some of your big goals that you have achieved in the recent past – and your goals that you want to achieve?
I am proud to be in a leadership position at an amazing company that continues to raise to bar for innovation each day. I am also proud to be a member of the Forbes Communications Council and the CHIEF network. In 2020, I was recognized as one of the 10 Most Successful Businesswomen to Watch, and I hope to live up to that legacy for many years to come. Personally, I would love to continue to grow personal passion project BITAKITCHEN.com into a global lifestyle brand.
Bita Milanian | Connection, Creation and Family
How would you describe yourself as a person?
I am a global citizen and a world traveler, deeply inspired by my surroundings and the places I visit. I also consider myself empathetic, inviting, creative, disciplined, fun and innovative.
What are the three top most important things for you in your personal life?
Connection: I need to feel connected to the people around me and continue to put myself out there and connect with new people.
Creation: Whether it’s creating a new recipe or coming up with a new marketing campaign, creating new things is a form of self-expression and how I show up as my authentic self.
Family: I wouldn’t be anywhere without my family and the friends who I consider my family.
Please share with us some of your personal milestones and their contributions towards developing your personality?
One of my recent and special milestones was creating my culinary brand, BITA’s KITCHEN. A true labor of love, I pour my heart and soul into creating healthy recipes, lifestyle choices and more that encourage others to lead a more balanced life through selfcare.
How do you see yourself evolve as a person over the past years and where do you see yourself in the coming years?
The older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin. Although I care deeply about people, I care less and less about their opinions of me. It’s not easy though, I must admit. It’s liberating to know that I am living and creating the life I’ve always wanted for myself and feel fulfilled both personally and professionally.
What are your three qualities that have helped you grow as a person and a professional?
I am open—to new perspectives, people, and experiences.
I do not give up—when one door closes, I will figure out a way to open another!
I am a connector—I use my love of connection to give back to charitable causes, create new business opportunities for others to succeed, and support my local community to bring people from all walks of life together to
Please share with us some of your hobbies and interests?
Spending time with my 5 grandkids whose ages range from newborn to 7 years old is on top of my favorite and most special “me time.” I also love cooking and hosting dinner parties that lead to interesting and inspiring conversations. You can also often find me in the kitchen testing out a new vegan and gluten-free Persian dish. I also love participating in dance competitions for the various charities I support or for personal challenge. And Pilates has been a lifesaver for me and my lower back issues.
Please tell us something about your family? What has been their support in terms of helping you grow professionally?
My family means everything to me. I treasure the time I spend with my husband of 21 years, parents who thankfully live close to me, as well as my stepson and his amazing family of 7. It’s very important for me to celebrate special occasions and milestones, both big and small. My husband has been my biggest advocate and supporter, as I have grown in my career as a marketing executive, launched business ventures and volunteer community work.