Companies, Cultures & Leaders I Admire: A New Series On Being The Change

May 13th, 2014 by Bita Milanian - 2 Comments

Updated 07/28/15

I’m grateful to so many of you who have shared your enthusiasm for my new blog, and woke up inspired today to start a new series of posts on people, teams and companies who inspire me.

fashamahjoorI’m starting with Fasha Mahjoor, one of the leaders I admire most, founder and CEO of Phenomenex.  An architect by education, Fasha has become an architect of innovation, growth and change for good. Usually, scientific companies are started by scientists, engineers, physicists, physicians and otherwise “technically trained” entrepreneurs. So the evolution of Phenomenex (a global leader in the research, development, manufacturing and distribution of leading edge chromatography solutions) is fascinating. With over 700 employees and offices in 15 countries and a network of 60 international partners, Fasha and his team have built an incredibly successful global organization and one of his secrets is – compassion.

Phenomenex is in fact a phenomenon in that the energy put into the business is as vibrant as the energy put into the investment and time put into supporting worthy philanthropic causes. I am honored to know Fasha personally, and the authenticity of his love and caring for others shines through his every action and word.  His employees are loyal, hard-working and extremely productive – creating value for customers that is inexorably intertwined with “values” – period.

Born in Iran like me, and educated in England, Fasha completed high school in Worchester and obtained his undergraduate degree in Architecture from Manchester Metropolitan University, and then went on to complete his Masters degree in Architecture, graduating with distinction from the University of Southern California. After graduation, Fasha and two friends joined forces to start an architectural firm in Beverly Hills, CA completing several important projects, despite the challenging economy at the time.

Through a simple twist of fate, Fasha was asked to build a business in chromatography (separation sciences). Perhaps the fact that Fasha did not come into the business through the usual scientific route created a sense of fearlessness and enthusiasm needed to compete in a fragmented industry, with over 500 companies active in the space, including Merck, Dupont, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. Fasha taught himself the business, and built an incredible team, and over the last three decades has grown the company – without any outside funding.

While innovating new products and solutions and opening up new markets around the world, Fasha from day-one created a culture that values contribution, encourages open communication, and maintains a TRUE open-door policy. The offices are beautiful (an expression of Fasha’s architectural and design passions) and team members are offered tremendous benefits beyond their competitive salaries, including massages, relaxation rooms and fitness facilities.

Fasha’s team is also given paid-time off to help others in non-profit ventures. Phenomenex has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the Wall Street Journal “Best Workplace” and the International “Spirit at Work” Awards. And while Fasha is rightfully extremely proud of the company he has built with his team, the “light” he puts out in the world is even more unstoppable. So instead of sharing the usual “business metrics” with you, which are beyond impressive, here are some of the numbers I love:

  • For his leadership in the progress of science, last year Fasha was voted one of the top 100 scientific influencers in the world, influencing advancements in the field of analytical sciences by “The Analytical Scientist,” the leading industry publication.
  • In September 2012, Fasha descended down 87 floors of The Shard, Europe’s tallest building, alongside Prince Andrew and a small group of philanthropists, raising over £2,000,000/$3,167,800 for The Outward Bound Trust; an educational charity.
  • For two days in November 2012, through collaboration with the Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) non-profit organization, Fasha and the Phenomenex USA team hand-made 163,296 meals for starving children in developing countries.
  • Over the past two years, in partnership with both  Feed My Starving Children  and Stop Hunger Now, Phenomenex has packed over 360,000 meals that have been sent to children in North Korea, Haiti, the Philippines and Africa.
  • In September 2015, Fasha will once again attempt to break world records while raising money for a great cause, The Outward Bound Trust. More info at

In May 2013, Fasha was given an Ellis Island Medal of Honor by The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO). Once a year, NECO honors leaders who “dedicate their lives to helping others, preserve and celebrate the values of their ancestry group, strive for tolerance and acceptance, and who share their personal and professional gifts for the benefit of humanity.”

Previous winners include six United States presidents and Nobel Prize winners.

And Fasha’s gifts keep on giving. Today, Fasha and his team in India are developing the Cheers Foundation Orphanage in Hyderabad, India, including hosting events and hands-on projects with the orphanage’s children, sponsoring food drives, and sending every child to school with clothes, shoes and books.

If you have ever wondered how much you – as an individual – can contribute – wonder no more. Follow me as I continue to share with you people, like Fasha, and companies, like Phenomenex, who prove you can “do it all” – build success professionally while making a difference globally.

And please – share your inspirations with me and the rest of the B the Change community!


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