On September 18, 2006, Anousheh Ansari captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer. Ms. Ansari earned a place in history as the fourth private explorer to visit space and the first astronaut of Iranian descent. An entrepreneur, Ms. Ansari is the co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea System, a company that unleashes the power of the internet to all consumers and dramatically alters and simplifies consumers’ digital living experience. Prior to founding Prodea, Ms. Ansari served as co-founder, CEO and chairwoman of Telecom Technologies, Inc. The company successfully merged with Sonus Networks, Inc. in 2000. Ms. Ansari immigrated to the United States as a teenager who did not speak English. She earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering and a master’s degree in electrical engineering. She has an honorary doctorate from the International Space Universtiy. Anousheh Ansari is a member of the X Prize Foundation’s Vision Circle, as well as its Board of Trustees. She is a life member of the Association of Space Explorers and serves on the advisory board of the Teacher in Space project.
(source: Iranian American Women’s Leadership Conference Handbook)
Anousheh Ansari is an amazing and inspiring woman. Her speech at this year’s Iranian American Women’s Conference in Los Angeles, California was a highlight for me. Not only is she a successful and accomplished person, she has a terrific sense of humor. It is my pleasure to feature Ms. Ansari on this blog:
When did you move to the United States?
I moved here when I was 16 years old in 1984.
What is your education and background?
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from George Mason University and my Master’s from George Washington University.
When and how did you first become interested in space travel?
I have always been fascinated with the night sky. As far back as I remember since I was five, I loved the stars. I would lie on my balcony at night and look up at the stars; it became my inspiration for wanting to know more about astronomy. The sheer fascination of the mystery of space and what’s out there, what’s it like and how I could get there in order to find all the answers I was seeking. My career was built around my passion for the stars.
What was your inspiration for starting Telecom Industries?
I first developed an interest in telecommunications while in college. I saw great opportunities in groundbreaking strategies and just as I found fascination with the stars, I felt Telecommunications was another exciting frontier to explore. With my degrees in electronics and computer engineering, my husband and I launched our careers at MCI where we gained incredible hands-on experience in the Telecom industry and then we saw a great opportunity to launch our own venture.
What message do you have for the younger generation about pursuing their dreams?
I would like to share that personally I do not accept boundaries. I am always reaching out for the next frontier and I hope that I can encourage our youth around the world to do the same.