Chinwe Esimai: Don’t Let Any of Your Differences Stop You From Bringing Your Full Self

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About Our Guest

Chinwe Esimai is a Nigerian-born, Harvard-trained lawyer who is passionate about inspiring generations of immigrant women leaders. Along with her mother, three brothers, and sister, she relocated to the United States in 1995, right before college.

Chinwe graduated from the City College of New York with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and received her JD from Harvard Law School. Today, she works for Citi as the Managing Director - Chief Anti-Bribery & Corruption Officer.

With a husband, three children and a demanding executive job, Chinwe talks to me about the challenge and excitement of being a woman - or more specifically - an immigrant woman in the modern world. Together we are trying to redefine our roles as women in society. What are the roles we have today? How can we kinder to ourselves? How do we better support each other?

Chinwe created her website to inspire immigrant women on their leadership journeys. These women leaders have come to the United States from all around the world. Chinwe calls them “American Dream Queens,” who not here in the United States to blend in, but to shine through.

The glass ceiling for immigrant women trying to breakthrough leadership roles in America is real, but hearing these stories firsthand instill hope among us that there’s still a place for women to thrive and succeed. I hope to see more immigrant women in such positions and willing to share their journey.

If you know someone on this trajectory, with a big heart, please help refer them to the Feisworld Podcast! It’s wonderful to be a woman in the world today - let’s celebrate.

Learn more about Chinwe Esimai:

Favorite Quotes

Just know that you won’t be everything and everywhere at the same time. Being an executive is a full-time job, being a mom is also a full-time job, and being a wife is part-time at the minimum. It’s a lot of jobs and the expectations don’t go away. It’s about how you think about it and how you manage it.

The kids need to know that they can have their own dreams. So they need to see someone living their dreams. Especially for my daughter, I think it’s great for her to see her mom work, and for my sons too. It’s good for kids to see their mom have dreams, goals and things she loves.

[As a profession] I asked a student “I was blown away, it was a brilliant question. How come you didn’t speak up during class?” The student replied “Oh professor, I’m an immigrant. I just came to the US for law school. I’m very conscious of my accent, and I would never speak up in front of a whole class. I thought to myself - one of the most brilliant minds in the class was too self-conscious to speak up.

Understand your unique talent, your gift, and step into what it is you want to do. Don’t let anything - any of your differences (your accents, your names) stop you from bringing your full self.

Show Notes

  • [05:00] How old were you when you moved to the US?

  • [06:00] How was your family at that time and who has the supporting person in your family?

  • [07:00] What’s your current position/role at Citigroup?

  • [08:00] What are some of the challenges that you’ve encountered (or colleagues) in the corporate world, and how do you navigate them?

  • [10:00] How important is the communication with your partner/spouse and how do you establish a channel for that?

  • [12:00] What was your parents’  reaction to your current job/routine/schedule and way of living? Are they supportive?

  • [15:00] So you cook Nigerian food every week. What are some of the dishes and where did you learn that from?

  • [16:00] What is hard about being an executive and being a mom at the same time? How do you balance your time for both? What are some of the sacrifices?

  • [19:00] It is challenging to find a place in this country, as diverse as it is. Especially as an immigrant. Do you have some advice in this regard?

  • [21:00] Chinwe’s story about her main motivation to start developing leadership skills in immigrants.

  • [25:00] What were/are some of the role models within the corporate world that helped you inspired you as a woman?