Syrian American CEO says Arab heritage is an asset, not a hinderance

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Updated 09 September 2023
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Syrian American CEO says Arab heritage is an asset, not a hinderance

Syrian American CEO says Arab heritage is an asset, not a hinderance
  • Rania Succar, who heads Intuit Mailchimp, plays up importance of Syrian family in her personal journey
  • She said her Arab heritage has been an asset in a world that today recognizes diversity as a component of corporate and business success.

CHICAGO: Rania Succar, who was named CEO of Intuit Mailchimp in 2022, said her Syrian heritage is an inspiration for success, rather than a hinderance.
Diverse opinions, perspectives, experiences and backgrounds fuel progress in today’s business world, Succar said, stressing that her family is a critical foundation of her own career rise.
A co-founder of Jusoor, a non-profit that has helped nearly 15,000 young Syrians pursue university education, Succar said her Arab heritage has been an asset in a world that today recognizes diversity as a component of corporate and business success.
Speaking to “The Ray Hanna Radio Show,” Succar said: “Earlier on in my career, there certainly was a stigma with being associated with Arab American descent, and I certainly held it back. It certainly wasn’t something I promoted. I remember applying for my first job and scrubbing every reference to ‘Arab American’ off of my resume. Which was interesting because a lot of the work I had done in college was being part of that community and organizing things.
“But I chose to say ‘I want people to understand me and recognize my value and the impact I am having’ without any preconceived notions of who I was or what my background was. That was very early in my career. I would say the environment today is quite different. It is celebrated to have strong identity and a diverse identity and background, and (it is) a strength, because we are in the corporate structure, and especially, I would say, it is even stronger in the tech community.”
Succar credits the corporate atmosphere at Intuit, a Fortune 500 corporation where she worked as senior vice president of Intuit QuickBooks Money Platform before heading up Intuit Mailchimp, one of the nation’s leading eNewsletter delivery systems, in August 2022.
Intuit is the global technology platform that helps consumers and small businesses overcome their most important financial challenges, serving more than 100 million customers worldwide with products that also include TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint, and Credit Karma.
Succar said the core principle of the firm was believing that “everyone should have the opportunity to prosper.”
She continued: “Intuit are certainly a champion of this. We are trying to have a very broad workforce that comes in with all forms of representation and diverse backgrounds and we celebrate those things, because it brings in diversity of thought and experience that makes us stronger.
“So, today, it (diversity) is celebrated as opposed to being something that is more negative, so I certainly speak very openly about my background and all of that to help others to speak openly about their background and their identity and to help promote others wanting to join and see themselves in leadership.”
On Sept. 22 Succar will receive the Outstanding Arab American Philanthropist of the Year Award at the Center for Arab American Philanthropy’s Threads of Giving Gala for her work at Jusoor, which was founded in 2011.
Jusoor has directed more than $20 million in support to help Syrian students, offering them education, international scholarships, entrepreneurial programs and career development opportunities.
Succar said her strong family life, and pride in being Arab and Syrian, fueled Jusoor’s success.
“My family is originally from Syria. My parents got married and moved over to the US and I was born in the US, but stayed very connected to Syria and the people in Syria,” she said. “I became very passionate as a result of that connection to help close the opportunity gap and help young people in Syria have hope — the type of hope that we had growing up here in the US.
“And so, several friends and I co-founded an organization back in 2011 called Jusoor, which means ‘bridges’ in Arabic. We are focused on closing that opportunity gap with Syrian youth — basically educating Syrian youth and focusing on a brighter tomorrow — and we have educated more than 10,000 young people through that journey. So, that is another huge part of my life that takes up a lot of focus and a lot of time, but gives me tremendous meaning and purpose.”
Succar said that she had a traditional family life and upbringing, stressing that Arab culture is founded on the pursuit of education.
“My parents immigrated from Syria in the early ‘70s, and my dad is a doctor — and so he certainly had that path — (and) my mom studied computer science. But, we grew up really appreciating the values that both parts of our culture provided. We used to spend every summer in Damascus as many families with Arab American heritage did, spending time back home in the region, and those were absolutely pivotal moments for me growing up,” Succar said.
I saw the beauty of the culture and came to realize it in a big way and it became a big part of my identity — the beauty of the history, the rich history of that part of the world — when we would go to Palmyra and see parts of Damascus as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Or we would experience the love of family. You know, there was never a moment where we would be climbing up the stairs to our unit at the top of the building and doors wouldn’t open up from relatives who would welcome us in for a spontaneous breakfast or lunch. There was never a moment where the family wasn’t overflowing wherever we were, so we got to experience that.”
However, she noted that despite similar early dispositions and drive, the limitations of life the Middle East at the time curbed the ambitions of many, including her own family.
“The most pivotal part of that experience was the relationships I formed with my cousins, and at very young ages, nothing separated us in this world. Everything we had, our dreams were the same. Our energy was the same,” she said.
“By the time we hit our teenage years my cousins, I started to notice, we diverged in quite a big way. I dreamt of going to Harvard and (to) study amazing things, and all the things I would do with my career and the way I would change the world, and their dreams started getting smaller. They started getting married — the girls at very young ages — because there was no other goal in life than to get married. The economy was prohibitive in terms of what they could do,” Succar said.
“And earlier, the boys were going to college, and by the time the second or third son would get to college age they would stop because there was no point. They were all ending up in their dad’s business, splitting the business — the family business — into four so that each son could maintain their household. And that stayed with me, and I became very focused on the power of a strong economy and what it could do for young people.”
Succar graduated from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree, Harvard Business School with a master’s, and then from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Her career skyrocketed through experiences at Merrill Lynch, McKinsey and at Google. She spent more than seven years at Intuit Quickbooks, where her team launched several game-changing funding solutions that helped small businesses, while she was also a member of the Society of Arab Students at Harvard and helped co-found the Harvard Arab Alumni Association.
Her father was a co-founder of the Arab American Medical Association, which funded scholarships to promote education not just for the boys but for girls, too. Arab women, Succar said, are playing stronger and more impactful roles in advancing the community at the corporate and business level, as well as in broader society.
Succar made her comments during an interview on Wednesday, Sept. 6 with “The Ray Hanania Radio Show,” which is broadcast every Wednesday on the US Arab Radio Network

You can listen to the radio show’s podcast by visiting ArabNews.com/rayradioshow 


Jury starts day two of Trump trial deliberations

Jury starts day two of Trump trial deliberations
Updated 5 sec ago
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Jury starts day two of Trump trial deliberations

Jury starts day two of Trump trial deliberations
  • There is no time limit to deliberations but an acquittal or conviction would require unanimity
NEW YORK: Jurors return Thursday to a second day of deliberations in Donald Trump’s criminal trial, leaving the Republican presidential candidate and the country waiting for a decision that could upend November’s election.
After weeks of testimony from more than 20 witnesses on Trump’s alleged fraud in covering up a politically damaging tryst with a porn star, the spotlight is now on the 12-strong New York jury.
The jurors — their identities kept secret for their own protection amid nationwide political tensions — are working behind closed doors in a separate room.
The only clues to the direction they are taking come through requests for clarifications. They were due to start off Thursday by reexamining testimony from two witnesses and also hear again the judge’s instructions on how to interpret the law.
Trump, 77, is required to stay in the court building while deliberations unfold.
Although barred by Judge Juan Merchan with a gag order from attacking witnesses, he has taken out his anger daily on the judge and what he claims is a politically motivated trial.
“It’s a disgrace,” he said late Wednesday. “There’s no crime.”
There is no time limit to deliberations but an acquittal or conviction would require unanimity. If just one juror refuses to join the others, the judge would have to declare a mistrial.
Trump is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse a $130,000 payment to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels, when her account of an alleged sexual encounter could have imperiled his ultimately successful 2016 presidential campaign.
Prosecutors say the fraud was motivated by a plot to prevent voters from knowing about his behavior.
If Trump is found guilty, the political repercussions would far outweigh the seriousness of the charges as, barely five months before the November 5 presidential election, the candidate would also become a convicted criminal.


In closing arguments on Tuesday, Trump’s defense team insisted the evidence for a conviction simply did not exist, while the prosecution countered that it was voluminous and inescapable.
“The defendant’s intent to defraud could not be any clearer,” said prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, urging the jurors to use their “common sense” and return a guilty verdict.
If convicted, Trump faces up to four years in prison on each of the 34 counts, but legal experts say that as a first-time offender he is unlikely to get jail time.
A conviction would not bar him from the November ballot and he would almost certainly appeal. In the case of a mistrial, prosecutors could seek a new trial.
Trump — required to attend every day of the proceedings — has used his trips to court and the huge media presence to spread his claim that the trial is a Democratic ploy to keep him off the campaign trail.
Polls show Trump neck and neck against President Joe Biden, and the verdict will inflame passions as the White House race intensifies.
In addition to the New York case, Trump has been indicted in Washington and Georgia on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
He also faces charges in Florida of hoarding huge quantities of classified documents after leaving the White House.
However, the New York case is the only one likely to come to trial by election day.

Ukraine says Russia building up forces near Kharkiv region’s north

Ukraine says Russia building up forces near Kharkiv region’s north
Updated 14 min 55 sec ago
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Ukraine says Russia building up forces near Kharkiv region’s north

Ukraine says Russia building up forces near Kharkiv region’s north
  • Col. General Oleksandr Syrskyi said Russia was continuing to send additional regiments and brigades from other areas and from training grounds

KYIV: Russia is building up forces near the northern part of Ukraine’s Kharkiv region where it launched an offensive this month, but it still lacks the troop numbers to stage a major push in the area, Ukraine’s top commander said on Thursday.
Ukraine says it has stabilized the front in the northeastern Kharkiv region where Russian forces launched a cross-border assault on May 10 that opened a new front in the 27-month-old war and stretched Kyiv’s outnumbered troops.
Col. General Oleksandr Syrskyi said Russia was continuing to send additional regiments and brigades from other areas and from training grounds to bulk up its troops on two main lines of attack in Kharkiv region’s north.
That includes the Strilecha-Lyptsi area between two small villages and the vicinity of the border town of Vovchansk where there has been street fighting.
“These forces are currently insufficient for a large-scale offensive and breakthrough of our defense,” Syrskyi said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.
He said Ukraine’s “creation of an ammunition reserve” had also reduced the offensive capabilities of Russian forces.
The remark suggested Kyiv’s acute shortages of artillery ammunition had eased since the United States finally approved a major aid package in April after months of delay.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that American weapons being delivered were helping to stabilize the Ukrainian front lines.
Russia has concentrated most of its offensive pressure in Ukraine’s east where its troops have been able to make slow incremental advances since capturing the town of Avdiivka in Donetsk region in February.


India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports

India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports
Updated 30 May 2024
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India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports

India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports
  • India experiencing a severe heat wave conditions for weeks, and the temperature in Delhi reached a record high of 52.9 degrees Celsius

NEW DELHI: India’s capital Delhi recorded its first heat-related death this year as temperatures reached record highs, media reported on Thursday.
Parts of northwest and central India have been experiencing heat wave to severe heat wave conditions for weeks, and the temperature in Delhi reached a record high of 52.9 degrees Celsius in Mungeshpur neighborhood on Wednesday.
That reading may be revised however, as maximum temperatures in other parts of the city ranged from 45.2 C to 49.1 C.
The capital territory’s first heat-related fatality this year was a 40-year-old laborer who died of heatstroke on Wednesday, The Indian Express newspaper reported.
Delhi’s lieutenant governor on Wednesday directed the government to ensure measures were taken to protect laborers by providing water and shaded areas at construction sites and granting them paid leave from noon to 3 p.m.
Delhi recorded a temperature of 36 C which felt like 37.8 C on Thursday morning, according to India’s weather department. It has predicted heat wave to severe heat wave conditions over northwest and central India will begin reducing gradually from today.
India classifies a heat wave as a situation where the maximum temperature is 4.5 C to 6.4 C above normal, while a severe heat wave occurs when the maximum is higher than normal by 6.5 degrees or more.


NATO meets as pressure grows to let Ukraine hit Russia

NATO meets as pressure grows to let Ukraine hit Russia
Updated 30 May 2024
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NATO meets as pressure grows to let Ukraine hit Russia

NATO meets as pressure grows to let Ukraine hit Russia
  • The gathering in the Czech capital is meant to focus on efforts to support Ukraine at NATO’s summit in Washington in July

PRAGUE:NATO foreign ministers meet in Prague on Thursday in the face of growing calls for leading allies to lift restrictions stopping Kyiv from using Western weapons to strike inside Russia.
The two-day gathering in the Czech capital is meant to focus on efforts to hammer out a package of support for Ukraine at NATO’s summit in Washington in July.
But the swirling debate over whether to let Kyiv use arms sent by Western backers to strike inside Russia risks overshadowing the meeting.
Ukraine has been pressing its supporters — chiefly the United States — to allow it to use the longer-range weaponry they supply to hit targets inside Russia.
The United States and Germany have so far refused to permit Kyiv to strike over the border out of fear that it could drag them closer to direct conflict with Moscow.
Ahead of the NATO meeting — which starts with a dinner on Thursday — alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said repeatedly it was time for members to reconsider those limits as they hamper Kyiv’s ability to defend itself.
French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to shift the dial on Tuesday when he said Ukraine should be allowed to “neutralize” bases in Russia used to launch strikes.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz, however, remained less committal, saying Ukraine should act within the law — and Berlin had not supplied the weapons to hit Russia anyway.
Across the Atlantic, the White House said it still opposed Ukraine using US arms to strike inside Russia, although Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted that that strategy could change.
Moscow, meanwhile, has reacted strongly — with President Vladimir Putin warning there would be “serious consequences” if Western countries give approval to Ukraine.
Those pressing for Ukraine to be given a freer rein say they hope momentum is building for the United States and others to change course as Kyiv struggles to stop Russia’s offensive in the Kharkiv region.
“Clearly president Macron’s ideas help allies who believe this rule should change,” said a diplomat from one NATO country.
“I hope the debates in the US will take Macron’s ideas into consideration.”


As NATO allies wrestle with that issue, ministers in Prague are also trying to come up with a support package that keeps Ukraine satisfied as its hopes of eventual membership remain a distant prospect.
After pressing hard at a summit last year, Kyiv has been told firmly by NATO countries — led by the United States and Germany — that it should not expect any concrete progress toward joining the alliance in Washington.
NATO chief Stoltenberg instead wants to get alliance members to make clear, multi-year commitments on how much aid they’ll give to Ukraine in the future.
Last month he floated an overall target figure of 100 billion euros ($108 billion) over five years, but that fell flat among allies confused over what it would involve.
“People understand you need to announce something, but they don’t just want it to be air,” the Western diplomat said.
Diplomats say debate is still ongoing as allies try to work out what any pledges would cover and how they might be structured.
One area where NATO does seem closer to agreement is a plan for the alliance to take over from the United States coordination of weapon supplies to Ukraine.
So far, Washington has been in charge as NATO has stayed clear of involvement in delivering arms due to worries it would incite Russia.
Proponents say making the alliance overall responsible could help insulate future deliveries against a possible return of Donald Trump to the US presidency.
But others fear it might just add more bureaucracy.
“The first hope is to not make it less effective than the current system,” a second Western diplomat said.
Diplomats say that to avoid opposition from Hungary — one of the friendliest countries to Russia in the alliance — Budapest has been given an “opt-out” not to be involved.


4 Pakistanis killed by Iranian border guards in remote southwestern region, Pakistani officials say

4 Pakistanis killed by Iranian border guards in remote southwestern region, Pakistani officials say
Updated 30 May 2024
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4 Pakistanis killed by Iranian border guards in remote southwestern region, Pakistani officials say

4 Pakistanis killed by Iranian border guards in remote southwestern region, Pakistani officials say
  • he incident happened near the border village of Mashkel in Baluchistan province on Wednesday

QUETTA: Iranian border guards opened fire at a vehicle carrying a group of Pakistanis, killing four people and wounding two others in a remote area in the southwest, Pakistani officials said Thursday.
The incident happened near the border village of Mashkel in Baluchistan province on Wednesday, local police said. Government administrator Sahibzada Asfand said it was unclear why the Iranian forces opened fire.
Local police say the bodies of the four men had been handed over to their families.
There was no immediate comment from Tehran or Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
Security forces on both sides often arrest smugglers and insurgents who operate in the region. Pakistan in tit-for-tat strikes in January targeted alleged militant hideouts inside Iran, killing at least nine people in retaliation for a similar attack by Iran.