Zain Verjee began working at CNN as a 25-year-old and then spent nearly the next 15 years of her career as an anchor and correspondent for the famed cable news network. She’d covered some of the biggest stories and interviewed many of the world’s top newsmakers. But at age 40, Verjee “could no longer see a clear path forward,” she writes in a candid essay about finding a second act in life. So she left CNN and searched for a way to reinvent herself. The essay, she told Women in the World, is “about how hard it is to reinvent yourself as a professional woman in media from a large corporation to a solo operation.”
Indeed, this week her reinvention materialized as she launched Akomanet, an Africa-focused content and storytelling platform. Verjee hails from Kenya and after almost 15 years in Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Europe, she has returned to her roots. Launching the new website, “a two-year breathless roller coaster going from Big Name Global Corporation to Just Me LLC,” as she puts it, was a journey fraught with loneliness and self doubt. “Each day brings with it a large dose of self-reflection, self-motivation, self-flagellation and self-doubt. The range of skills, discipline, and steely self-belief called into play in building a startup from the trenches has been mind-blowing. The extent of loneliness involved in this enterprise has been harsh.”
But Verjee, who has appeared onstage as a panel moderator at Women in the World events, persevered and was able to overcome those obstacles, and see her vision through. She credits a realization that she came to about two years ago with allowing her “to pivot professionally and seek an alternative path forward.” Watch the video below to learn about Akomanet and be sure to read the full essay about Verjee’s journey.