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.)
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.”