You have an incredible career, what was the passion that led you to marketing? Do you have one takeaway that all marketers should listen to?
I love that connection to audiences. Understanding who they are, what motivates their decision making and figuring out which elements of a brand story truly resonate. With movies in particular, that ability to bring audiences together around a shared calling to action was exciting. My one takeaway - trust your instincts and back it up with data.
What did you learn the most about leadership differences between consumer brands and Hollywood?
During my time, Hollywood was the wild Wild West and so many male leaders in particular (though women were not exempt) acted with impunity. Bullying and cronyism were rampant. Hierarchies ruled. Other industries felt more structured. The big recent movements such as MeToo and the George Floyd protests have made a huge difference across industries, though there is still so much work to be done.
You’ve held gatherings with some of the biggest female change makers in our history from Queen Rania to Melinda Gates and Arianna Huffington. What was the most powerful message you heard from any of them that you take with you every day?
The overriding message was always about the need for women to come together as a united force to drive change for all women.
What was the problem that you wanted to solve by creating the WIE Suite, a community for women leaders and creators?
Women leaders quit their jobs at three times the rate of men. I want to help them thrive. We need more women in positions of power and we need to keep them there. My big aha moment as senior executive was the realization that companies can teach you how to do your job but only other women can help you get ahead. The system is too opaque, the inequities too great to figure it out alone. So how do we create systems of support for women as they ascend in their careers. How do we ensure they don’t buckle under the weight of increased personal and professional responsibility? So we created a dynamic support structure and culture where women weren’t afraid to ask or be transactional with one other. No question or need goes unanswered.
Tell us a little about your upbringing and how that inspired your drive to be entrepreneur?
I was raised between the UK and Ghana and was very independent from an early age. Ghana in particular is a very matriarchal entrepreneurial society. My entrepreneurial spirit is also inspired by my desire to build and own something, create a legacy and pass that generational wealth down to my family and community. There is a huge generational wealth gap within the black community and I’m so inspired by all my fellow founders working to build a stronger legacy for the future.
As a top voice for diverse women for more than a decade, what changes have you seen that give you hope for equality?
I’m seeing a particularly interesting shift post pandemic as women come out of what I called The Great Awakening. Climbing the traditional corporate ladder is no longer the pinnacle of success. We want more agency over our careers - we want to build portfolio careers that ultimately provide us more flexibility, more ownership and often, more money.
Can you share some of the exciting WIE Suite programming that one can expect to be a part of as a member?
Our focus is on personalizing the way women leaders and innovators achieve success for themselves and one another. So our members use their collective influence and expertise to strengthen their careers, build their brands and monetize their expertise. Members get access to personalized peer coaching groups, industry braintrusts and a range of amazing salons, masterclasses. We also host the most amazing dinners.
Since you attend events and dress up often, can you share some of your beauty and/or fashion hacks?
Dress for you. Don’t dress for fashion and trends. I wear things today I bought 15 years ago. They stood the test of time. And my beauty hack is drink 2L of water a day, ditch the coffee, have mascara and red lipstick at the ready and always find your light - and I mean that both literally and figuratively. I’ve learned that beauty is so much about energy and presence - you’re reflecting what you feel on the inside and people respond to that.
How would you describe your style and do you ever feel you must dress and/or present yourself in a certain way?
I guess I would describe my style as everyday feminine chic. I live in dresses and skirts and anything floral. I love how younger generations have pushed for the freedom to more openly express themselves unencumbered by society’s ideas of what’s ‘right and wrong’. I definitely still labor under some of those strictures what constitutes professional. I’m working on that.