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The World’s Most Powerful Women: May 31

VietJet, Vietnam’s discount airline known for a marketing stunt featuring bikini-clad flight attendants, could become the first Vietnamese company to list its shares on a stock exchange overseas. Bloomberg reports that the carrier, which controls more than 40% of Vietnam’s domestic airline market, is seeking more funds after planning for billions of dollars in aircraft purchases.

If the foreign listing does indeed happen—the company is considering stock exchanges in New York, London, Hong Kong and Singapore—it would thrust VietJet’s founder and CEO, 46-year-old Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, even further into the spotlight.

It’s a position Thao won’t shy away from. “We don’t want to hide our hope to become the first Vietnamese company to list shares overseas,” she told Bloomberg.

Thao already possesses a remarkable CV. She studied economics and finance in Soviet Russia in the 1980s before starting a career in commodities trading in Eastern Europe and Asia. She returned to Vietnam a decade ago and invested in banks, eventually turning to real estate projects in Ho Chi Minh City and resorts in Central Vietnam, according to Forbes. Thao says she got the idea to start a discount airline while she was a trader, and she studied the business models of Southwest and Ryan Air for tips on how to launch her own.

VietJet took flight in 2011, and its early years—as Thao predicted—coincided with a 29% expansion of Vietnam’s air transportation market. The airline turned a profit in just its second year and went public in Vietnam in February. With more than 35 million passengers, the carrier, even in its short lifespan, has made Thao the only female billionaire in all of Southeast Asia, with an estimated fortune of $1.6 billion.

A foreign listing would reflect Thao’s goal to morph VietJet into “an international airline, not just a local one,” and would be in step with her personal outlook: “I have always aimed big and done big deals.”



Getting defensiveAn unlikely defender backed up German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her on-going tiff with U.S. President Donald Trump yesterday. Martin Schulz, who’s contesting Merkel in her re-election bid, railed against Trump in a speech, saying he had tried to “inflict humiliation” in Brussels. “[T]he chancellor represents all of us at summits like these, and I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government,” he said. “That is unacceptable.”Washington Post


Pushback in Paris
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has backtracked from her call to ban the upcoming black feminist Nyansapo Festival after initially saying that the event discriminated against white people. “The festival organized in a public place will be open to all,” she said on Monday. “Non-mixed workshops will be held elsewhere, in a strictly private setting.” Hidalgo’s reversal came after organizations, including Black Lives Matter, criticized her for misunderstanding the purpose of the event.

No Wonder
Lebanon’s ministry of economy says it has asked the country’s security agency to ban the new Wonder Woman film because its lead actress, Gal Gadot, is an Israeli. Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and a decades-old law boycotts Israeli products and keeps Lebanese citizens from traveling or having contacts with Israelis. The agency hasn’t received a formal request yet; the ban would require a recommendation from a six-member committee. The movie is being promoted in Beirut with public posters and at least one theater holding an advance screening today.


Dropping the façade
On the outside, Lisa Brown Alexander seemed to have it all together. She was founder and CEO of Nonprofit HR, a full-service firm catering exclusively to nonprofit clients like ASPCA, Goodwill Industries, and Amnesty International. But for five years, Alexander suffered from depression, a struggle she reveals in a new book, Strong on the Outside, Dying on the Inside. Her candor—”I ultimately became exhausted from keeping up the façade”makes her one of the few female execs to talk publicly about her mental health.
Chicago Defender

Losing patience
Since New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, 31 high-level officials he hired—including 22 women—have left. Why has female talent abandoned a leader who’s championed women’s advancement? Some women who’ve exited the administration blame his deliberative management style and his tendency to lecture staff in what they describe as a condescending tone. Nearly everyone experiences this, several women told The New York Times, but they suggested that women may have less patience for it.
New York Times

Justice delayed
In 1990, Deborah Jean Bryant accused her boss at the Department of Corrections in Washington, D.C. of denying her a promotion because she rebuffed his advances. Twenty-seven years later, her case is still being litigated and could set a record for duration in the capital’s court system. It’s very likely among the most protracted in the history of American jurisprudence.
Washington Post


Missing in China
The Ivanka Trump brand’s manufacturing operation in China is facing even more scrutiny as reports emerged today that two activists are missing after investigating labor conditions at a factory that makes shoes for the brand. Police have detained a third activist. They were working for New York-based China Labor Watch, which sent a letter to Trump in April that alleged labor violations at two unnamed factories that supply her eponymous brand. A brand representative declined to comment to Bloomberg about the activists, and a White House spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cybercrime fighters
Police in Dhaka, Bangladesh are training thousands of teenage girls to defend themselves against online blackmail or harassment amid an alarming rise in cybercrime. Criminals are preying on young girls in the conservative culture who are willing to pay to keep intimate photos—even fabricated ones—from appearing online. More than 10,000 girls attended the workshops in April and May, where safety on Facebook was a key focus.
The Guardian


10 ways you’re sabotaging your career

5 Google Chrome extensions every feminist needs

A Belgium university advised female students to wear low-cut tops to graduation

Teens and older women are delaying motherhood

Male mentors shouldn’t hesitate to challenge their female mentees
Harvard Business Review


“Success is a product of bravery, not perfection.”
—Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, speaking at the convocation of the Harvard Graduate School of Education about how to raise successful women.