Anita Asante, Business Dev Director + Keen Advice Giver
Anita, a London-native New Yorker is defined as the 'social butterfly' by her co-workers, family and friends. She is the Business Development Director at SELECT WORLD, balancing a hectic schedule all while trying to juggle a personal life. Our intention was to interview Anita about life at SW and ask for #GIRLBOSS career advice.
However, the chat at The Roxy Hotel about pitches and initiatives turned into deep conversations on life, politics and breaking norms. Maybe it was the cocktails and jazz music. Maybe it was her guest, Andy, who was in awe of her. One thing we did know was , Anita is way more than just your average hustler. Here is a dive into her soul.
Per usual, what did you dream of being growing up?
It's going to be a complete 180. It’s funny because I actually wanted to be an athlete. Not to blow my own horn or anything, but I excelled at the 100 and 200 meters and competed at national level. But then I got to that age where the distractions kicked in – mainly food and boys. Ha! BUT, last year when I went to the Olympics in Brasil, that dream of mine all came rushing back and I was like I really want to pick this back up. I kept going around to my friends saying “I’m going to be in Tokyo in 2020!!”
Go girl! So then you grew up, changed your mind and moved to America. Can you tell us about that?
It was on a massive whim. Not many people know this story, but my sister works in production. At the time she worked for Turner Broadcasting/CNN and I would fly out to New York to visit her from time to time. We were out to dinner one night with a friend of hers and were talking about advertising because obviously - I love advertising! Her friend recognized that and suggested that I would be a great fit for her agency which in turn turned into my previous job! Initially, I went there for a couple of months and then really nicely they created a role for me – a hybrid of strategy and new business which I loved, and even though I missed London so much and never really expected to stay in NY on a long term basis, I kind of just rolled with it and never looked back. However, with the new Trump administration, they have made changes to the Visa programme so let’s see how it goes. But then on the other hand, there is Brexit so at this point I’m very much like “hmm where do I go?!”
Don't get us started on #45! So we know where you are on the map. Can you explain where you are now in life and career?
Career - I am at Select World in Advertising and Branding. The reason I love it is because we have always had a hand on the future. Digital exploded a while ago as we all know and it's something that we were able to get in front of which I really love and has been a major value to our clients. We are focused on beauty but dabble in fashion as well.
As far as life - I've been through the ring of it in New York. It was definitely a rude awakening at first just in terms of adjusting to a whole new way of life and the culture and all sorts.
When people ask how I’m finding New York to be, I'm honest. It's full of high highs and low lows. But, it's a faith thing. Life just laughs at us and we have to roll with the punches.
Have the belief that whatever you put out you will get back. Be nice to people, do good things. Don’t be a bitch and try your hardest. If you are working hard, there is nothing that can stop you.
So will you stay? And can you elaborate on the daily struggles? I'm sure we can all relate.
I've reached that place where I am wondering if I should move back home, but feel like I have so much more to offer here.
The struggles - we can’t compare ourselves to other people, and I understand that with the advent of social media, it’s much easier said than done but I’ve always been of the mindset that even if something looks great on the surface, you never know what’s bubbling underneath or behind closed doors. I’m of the “So work on yourself, set goals you want to achieve mindset.
Let's dig deeper. You are a minority, foreign, and in a male dominated industry. On paper, the odds are against you. How do you overcome and prove society wrong?
That is an interesting question. I'm Black and a woman, yes so one of the main challenges is that sometimes it can seem as if you are fighting a losing battle. I don’t consider myself an underdog per say but I’m aware of the perception and whiles I have always been respected in my field of work, there is the tendency that at first glance, you may not be taken as seriously as say compared to my fellow white male work colleague. I’ve been told, “Oh, you're so exotic for an African American.” Everyone would laugh about it. But when you really think about it, this is not okay - I am an individual and actually not African American. See it’s the small things.
On the flip side, being British in an American workplace has awarded me a different set of opportunities, I don’t think would have been readily available for an African American. So I start to wonder, what do they really go through? Sadly enough, I don’t know if it will change, soon enough. It’s a sensitive topic, but I am happy that we are at the point where we can talk about it and it can widely discussed.
Here at thecnnekt, we want to break that mold and talk about that more, so thank you for being honest. Now, what is next for you, Anita?
I don’t know…
I'm at this point in my life where I love what I do and the space I am in. But sometimes I feel myself yearning for more. I don’t necessarily know what that something is, but I do know that I want it to have more of a purposeful driven life. Do I give up everything I have in New York to settle down and have a family in London? I’m trying to figure out how to merge it all. But what I do know is that whatever I put my hands on, I will be successful. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.
Interview by Emily + Chary
Interpreted by Emily