"No Career Is Worth Sacrificing Your Values"—Ananya Birla Is a Woman to Watch

What does it take to be the first? From the numerous interviews we’ve conducted with successful disrupters, there seems to be a formula of key attributes, personality traits, and, yes, failures that pave the way for female pioneers, or as we like to call them, Womaneers. By definition, she’s a woman who defies societal norms with heroism and tenacity to become a pioneering voice in her field. Each month, we will share a new womaneer’s story to uncover their vision, grit, persistence, grace, and drive to keep going despite the odds. The time of the womaneer is now.

Have you ever thought back to what you were doing at 17 years old? I was just wrapping up my last year in high school and planning what college I was going to attend. But for the talented musician Ananya Birla, this was the year when she launched her first business, Svatantra (a microfinance organization that helps empower rural women and makes them economically independent).  

Notice how I said "first" business. That's right. Birla is a passionate philanthropic entrepreneur who also runs a mental health initiative called Mpower that works to dispell the stigma associated with mental health illnesses in India. Oh, and she is the first Indian artist with an English single to go platinum for her last two singles Hold On and Meant to Be. No biggie.

Did we also mention that Birla is just 24 years old? This is certainly a woman to watch and fits the womaneer profile perfectly. Read on to hear more about how she broke into the music industry, what her biggest barriers have been, and what it really takes to be a female pioneer.