Postcards

How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Hillary Clinton deputy shares career advice

May 24, 2012: 12:25 PM ET

Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff, discusses her winding career path from Saudi Arabia to Washington D.C. at Fortune's Most Powerful Women dinner.

Huma Abedin

Huma Abedin

FORTUNE -- Powerful women like Wal-Mart (WMT) EVP Susan Chambers, Hearsay Social founder/CEO Clara Shih and Martha Stewart -- plus rising-star women leaders from emerging countries such as Brazil, Iraq, and South Africa -- gathered for Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women dinner in New York City Wednesday evening.

The 150 guests at the Time Warner Center heard career advice from Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson, who is on the boards of Starbucks (SBUX), Estee Lauder (EL) DreamWorks Animation (DWA) and Groupon (GRPN). (Read about Hobson's lessons in Pattie Sellers' interview on Postcards tomorrow.)

As Fortune celebrated the close of the 2012 Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women's Mentoring program -- which this May brought 25 women from 17 developing countries to the U.S. to shadow participants of the MPW Summit -- Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff, shared her advice with the MPW.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Abedin said, she longed to be a journalist. And not just any journalist, but Christiane Amanpour. "She looked purposeful -- and glamorous," Abedin recalled about the iconic international correspondent.

In the U.S., Abedin took a job at the White House, thinking she would be in the press office. But she ended up working with Melanne Verveer, who was Hillary Clinton's chief of staff during Bill Clinton's presidency. Young Huma, who is now married to former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner, was disappointed -- and unsure what the job entailed.

When she complained to her mother, Abedin's mom told her, "Take a chance. Don't be afraid of what you don't know. And don't fall in love with Plan A."

Soon enough, Abedin learned the value of Plan B. "Sixteen years later, I wouldn't change a thing," she told the audience, laughing about her fate. "And I got to meet Christiane Amanpour."‬

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About This Author
Colleen Leahey
Colleen Leahey
Fortune

Colleen Leahey joined Fortune in May 2011 to cover leadership, technology, and small business. She also focuses on building the Fortune Most Powerful Women franchise in the digital and live media space and manages programming for the MPW Summit. Previously, Colleen worked at The New Yorker and Bicycling magazine. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and lives in Manhattan.

Email Colleen Leahey | @cmleahey
MPWomen go Global

The Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership brings rising-star women from countries around the world to the U.S. for three-week mentorships with participants of the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit - among them Ursula Burns of Xerox, Laura Lang of Time Inc., Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, and Tory Burch.

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