Growing up in Iran and later in France, Mona Ameli viewed the United States as the “land of marketing opportunities.”
Now president of Medifast’s direct-selling division, Ameli is the only corporate senior-positioned Iranian-American woman in the direct-selling industry.
Ameli, who has almost 20 years of experience in the consumer goods industry with a focus on beauty, health and wellness, launched her career in France. She moved to the United States 19 years ago, focusing her career in direct marketing.
She was living in California when Medifast approached her and moved to Baltimore earlier this year.
Looking back, Ameli says landing her dream job as a two-time immigrant was challenging.
When she first moved to the United States, at age 26, she says, her English-language skills were not up to par.
“Even though I had studied English at university, my level of English was not where it needed to be to grow my career,” Ameli said.
I didn’t even know how to drive. I had pretty much no money,” she said.
Ameli graduated from a business school in France, but said that the university was unknown to employers in the U.S.
“I had to deal with starting my life from scratch at age 26,” she said.
That meant she had to start at the bottom.
Her first job in the U.S. was with international direct response agency Williams Worldwide.
She eventually landed a job in direct selling at HerbaLife, a global nutrition and weight management company. She learned to drive and got her license and said starting at the bottom afforded her the opportunity to learn all aspects of the company first-hand.
“I worked very hard and loved what I did,” she said.
She discovered a passion for wellness, beauty and consumer goods and said she was energized knowing that what she did made a difference in people’s lives.
Late last year, Ameli joined Medifast and says she is focused on establishing Take Shape for Life — the direct-selling arm of the Owings Mills-based company — as a thriving business unit. She also is focused on national, as well as international growth — helping others combine a healthy lifestyle with healthy and flexibile earning opportunities.”
Ameli also is using her story and leveraging her experiences to help other women.
Among other things, she has worked to advocate for victims of domestic violence and address the gender pay gap.
Women earn, on average 78 cents, for every dollar a man earns, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
When asked how to overcome such a hurdle, Ameli responds: Start small.
“Every women, regardless of where they sit in the organization, if they can sponsor one other woman, then we will start seeing shifts,” she said.
Within her own organization, Ameli said she has created flexible schedules for working mothers and is teaching female professionals not to be scared to go after promotions but also find a balance between work and life.
“We want to create a better environment for women to thrive in,” she said. “I think sometimes there’s a lot of talk about it, but there’s not a lot of action.”
In May, Ameli spoke at the Iranian-American Women’s Leadership Conference about “How to Negotiate Your Worth and Succeed in the Corporate World.”
Ameli says that all of the challenges she faced could have been overwhelming. Instead, she viewed them as assets in building her career.
“My differences were some of the areas of strength for me,” she said. “I speak four different languages and could stand out in a crowd and make a personal story. I never denied my past.”