Women should use their femininity to succeed in negotiations according to Nushin Alloo, a first-year MBA student at Wharton.
Alloo’s opinions are based on her experiences working in the political arena and for non-profits to empower women in India and in the Middle East, where she also worked as a US diplomat.
Alloo sees no point in women trying to bargain like men. In fact, “Women are naturally better at reading people”, she says, “And the most important element of negotiation is knowing what motivates the other person, so as to steer the conversation to achieve a win-win result.”
When asked whether women should avoid using gender charisma in the workplace, Alloo replies that “Being a woman doesn’t mean that you are not professional. Women have so many other strengths - they are better listeners, more considerate - in addition to their personal charm. They should use these skills to their advantage.”
The main challenge for women is lack of confidence in negotiations, which means they often compromise too easily. “Women tend to avoid conflict”, says Alloo, “but you don’t have to be aggressive to win. Women should be more confident.” Many women come to Alloo for mentorship with impressive resumes, but “they just don’t realize how amazing they are!”
Alloo draws on the example of women in a village in western India. She was part of a non-profit initiative to show women that they are responsible for gender inequality themselves.
The village women were working full-time jobs and taking care of the households. They first fed for their husbands and children, and often ended up having nothing left to eat. Alloo, together with other NGO workers, encouraged the women to speak up and negotiate with their husbands to share household duties and food: “Women should not regard their current situations as perpetuate”, she says.
Alloo herself is a confident woman and bold risk-taker. Born to East African refugees, she grew up in North America amid a variety of cultures with aspirations to make an impact in the public sector.
She graduated as a Trustee Scholar from the Wharton School in 2003 and subsequently earned an MA in Arabic as a National Security Education program fellow. Her experience includes consulting for healthcare and financial services firms, and helping launch Syria’s first public relations company.
Most recently, she served as an American diplomat in Beirut and received the Meritorious Honor Award for outstanding performance during crisis.
According to Alloo, the most difficult choice so far was turning down a lucrative consulting job offer to pursue a master’s degree in Arabic to be a diplomat. Alloo left her job as a management consultant at Accenture and took on a part-time job as a waitress to cover some education expenses.
Recalling her experience, Alloo jokes “My friends were asking me what I was doing as a waitress with a bachelor’s degree from Wharton. But waitressing was the only job that fit my schedule! I had to do what I needed to do!”