Women at Work: Bringing Transformative Ideas to Life

Zainep Mahmoud, a marketing leader at Capital One, on empowering female entrepreneurs to bring transformative ideas to life


It’s Women’s History Month, and each Friday this March, we’re highlighting the perspectives of women at Capital One who are making their mark. 

Hear from Zainep Mahmoud, the head of acquisition marketing for Small Business Card at Capital One, on key insights from her experience. Plus, Mahmoud reveals the female founders who inspire her as she builds her impressive career.

Stay tuned throughout the month to hear from other inspiring female leaders across Capital One’s Commercial, Small Business Bank, and Small Business Card sectors.  

Q: What inspires you about women business owners?

My first introduction to women entrepreneurs was personal — it was my mom. She owned and operated a children's book store called Positive Images in the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, with a focus on children's books with diverse characters. When searching for my first books, my mom realized there weren't books that had any representations of children of color. 

What I found most inspirational about what my mom built was that she not only identified a need that no one was actively working to solve, but she also opened both a brick and mortar store in our Washington, DC neighborhood and an e-commerce bookstore at a time when that was quite rare. My mom demonstrated how thoughtful, innovative and transformative women entrepreneurs can be when given the support and opportunity to bring their business ideas to life.

Q: What is your favorite woman-owned business, or which female founder do you admire, and why?

Outside of my mother, of course, one of my favorite female founders is my business school colleague Iman Abuzeid who founded Incredible Health. Iman, an MD and MBA by training, saw a need to close the gap in how hospitals effectively and efficiently staff nurses and other high-shortage healthcare professionals — which, as you can imagine, has become an acute need during this pandemic. I admired seeing how passionate she was to become an entrepreneur and how she built a business that not only leverages her incredible educational background but is also helping to save lives every day.

Q: Why is working in the business-to-business space particularly rewarding for you?

This past year has been really challenging for many reasons. Working in the B2B space, particularly in a capacity where our products and services are helping small businesses stay afloat in the midst of this pandemic, has been incredibly rewarding. 

I have been so thankful to work for a company that immediately focused on helping our small business customers weather this COVID-19 storm above any other priority. I'm also thankful that as we emerge from the challenges this pandemic brought about, we will continue to support our customers as we work to rebound, rebuild and thrive together.

Q: What is the impact of women cheering for each other, and how can women better cheer for each other?

Women cheering for each other provides a sense of support and community, builds morale and boosts confidence — at least that has been my experience when I was 'cheered on' by my female peers in the workplace. But do you know what's even better? Mentorship and sponsorship. 

It’s so important to create opportunities for high-achieving women in your organization, providing 'step up' stretch projects for women who may lack some experience but have the potential to excel and need a chance to demonstrate their capabilities. There’s so much value in having regular check-ins and building relationships with female colleagues to share the unwritten rules of excelling in the workplace. This is how women can both cheer each other on and support their professional development and career trajectory in tandem.

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