FORTUNE — Powerful women like Wal-Mart (WMT) EVP Susan Chambers, Hearsay Social founder/CEO Clara Shih and Martha Stewart — plus rising-star women leaders from emerging countries such as Brazil, Iraq, and South Africa — gathered for Fortune’s annual Most Powerful Women dinner in New York City Wednesday evening.
The 150 guests at the Time Warner Center heard career advice from Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson, who is on the boards of Starbucks (sbux), Estee Lauder (el) DreamWorks Animation (dwa) and Groupon (grpn). (Read about Hobson’s lessons in Pattie Sellers’ interview on Postcards tomorrow.)
As Fortune celebrated the close of the 2012 Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring program — which this May brought 25 women from 17 developing countries to the U.S. to shadow participants of the MPW Summit — Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, shared her advice with the MPW.
Growing up in Saudi Arabia, Abedin said, she longed to be a journalist. And not just any journalist, but Christiane Amanpour. “She looked purposeful — and glamorous,” Abedin recalled about the iconic international correspondent.
In the U.S., Abedin took a job at the White House, thinking she would be in the press office. But she ended up working with Melanne Verveer, who was Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Young Huma, who is now married to former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner, was disappointed — and unsure what the job entailed.
When she complained to her mother, Abedin’s mom told her, “Take a chance. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. And don’t fall in love with Plan A.”
Soon enough, Abedin learned the value of Plan B. “Sixteen years later, I wouldn’t change a thing,” she told the audience, laughing about her fate. “And I got to meet Christiane Amanpour.”