We had the good fortune of connecting with Tania Daniel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tania, what is the most important factor behind your success?
People, people, people. Early on in my career I realized the power of the “WE”. There is immense strength in collaboration and also in team work.
When your team truly believes in the end goal, the higher-arching Mission; when you empower them to assume the role of stakeholders, solution-seekers and decision-makers, success becomes an organic and inevitable process. I am blessed to be able to work with so many incredible alumni leaders, who are the heart and soul of my team. Through insurmountable challenges, they have believed in our Mission: Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship, and TOGETHER we have strived for deep-impact and high-value learning experiences.
The “WE” is evident in all our collaborations – from our JA Company Program partners and sponsors, to our incredible Board members, who have championed the program endlessly. The success of a brand, especially when you are re-imagining it (as we did with our program), lies heavily on the stewardship, passion, dedication and old-fashioned hard work of each and every member of the team. We call ours, the JA Company Program FAMILY. This is horizontal leadership at its best.
What is a brand? Is it a cool logo? Is it the glitzy events we host? Is it Is it catchy tagline? No, it is how your business is identified and recognized. We take this very seriously. Which is why each and every member of our team, is the best brand ambassador we can have. In the end, “WE” are the brand.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I manage Entrepreneurship Initiatives for Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas. Entrepreneurs are the engines of the U.S economy and I am blessed to be able to nurture and coach the innovators, pioneers and visionaries of the future. Houston is the Global City of the Future, and I am proud that the JA Company Program and my organization is a significant part of this incredible socio-cultural landscape.
I am always hungry to fulfill potential. I see greatness in all people and it is gives me great joy to ignite their full potential and unearth and unleash what they are truly capable of. This makes me tick and this is what I find extremely rewarding in the work that I do with Junior Achievement. We have teenagers create solutions to early childhood literacy and sustainable solutions to plastic consumption, we have high schoolers pitch in a room full of college students and win seed money, we have college students who are creating our Sustainability and Technology tracks for us. Seeing them thrive and knowing that the JA Company Program has empowered them, gives me greater purpose to ‘Inspire Tomorrows and Change Lives’.
My career journey has been complicated. I was the first person in my family to go to college and I came from a low income family but went to private school all my life (talk about dichotomy!). I studied in both Asia (Colombo) and Europe (London). Law was my passion and I excelled in International Law and Human Rights Law. After marriage I moved to the U.S. and did not work for two years due to my cancer diagnosis and a very difficult pregnancy. I pivoted to Education and the non-profit sector when I was ready to re-join the work force. It has truly been a rewarding and fulfilling journey and the battle scars have all been worth it! As an immigrant, I believe in the American Dream 100%
I believe that in order to overcome obstacles in life, one needs to have a strong support system. In my case my husband has been my ROCK and so have my rescue dogs. I also found solace in my Faith and God, during the darkest of days – the sudden loss of my mother in particular. Surround yourself with people who love you for your authentic self, embrace your Faith and never doubt your self-worth. We are all Overcomers, Empowerers and Inspirers. Manifest it!
My one mantra in life is: there is NO substitute to hard work. Nothing. Do not take short cuts. Work in the trenches, give it your 200% to everything you do, lead by example, value and respect your peers and colleagues and never undermine anyone to achieve success. It is just not worth it and there is no honor in doing that.
Be a lifelong learner and a voracious believer of the Good and the Just.
I am a deep admirer of what Junior Achievement does. I also know that the work we do to ‘Inspire Tomorrows’ will not be possible without the love and support of our partners and stakeholders. Hence, the power of collaborations is a significant facet of the JA Company Program’s very identity. Everything we do to promote Workforce Readiness and Entrepreneurship is made possible because of the people we surround ourselves with. I stand on the shoulders of giants.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love both food and travel and Houston is such an amazing hub for both! Some of my favorites are below:
1. Hotels: Love the St. Regis, Granduca, Post Oak Hotel and Zaza.
2. Restaurants that I love: Crawfish and Noodles, the breakfast klub (Marcus Davis does so much for our community), Fung’s Kitchen (now temporarily closed), B&B Butchers (love their lamb bacon). Nobu, Kiran’s, the original Ninfa’s and Thai Siam (for the best Tom Kha Gai outside of Bangkok). If you are a teetotaler like I am, any Lupe Tortilla restaurants can serve up a wonderful virgin Margarita for you (ask for extra lime rinds). Pick up some amazing red velvet cupcakes from Crave or the salted caramel pecan pie from Three Brothers Bakery.
3. The Museum District, Rice Village and China Town are my absolute favorite spots in the city. So many things to see and do! I personally love museums and any exhibit on antiquities (especially Egypt and the Nile civilization).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
1. Grateful for all the help that the the amazing JA Company Program Alumni Network leaders have given me. They are a small but mighty unit.
2. My mentor and Board member Dr. Richard Heo has been a HUGE source of support. Dr. Juliet Breeze, also my Board member, has championed the JA Company Program and been a pillar of strength to me, personally. I think the world of them both and they have inspired me to always respect and value the work I do!
3. My husband Romesh Draviam, who pushed me to re-start my career, at a time when I was struggling to find my purpose. He always motivates me to be the best version of myself.
4. Numerous personal role models: Greg Ebel, Mike Rome, Michael McMurray, Evelyn Angelle, David Regenbaum, Niloufar Molavi, Ragini Roy Basu, Dr. Christine Galib, Preeti Jain, Sandra Oliver, Lia Johnson, Courtney Taylor, Lee Haverman, Ed Grocholski, Asheesh Advani, Tere Stouffer, Erin Sawyer – these are just some of the incredible leaders I am blessed to work with, know and deeply admire and aspire to be.
Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas