We’re only a week away from Black Enterprise’s 6th Annual Women of Power Summit. Next week, both seasoned businesswomen and up-and-coming entrepreneurs will congregate in Orlando for three days of networking and insightful workshops. To celebrate the occasion, check out our list of 10 business mavens under 40. You can catch them live at this year’s summit or via BlackEnterprise.com‘s up-to-the-minute coverage. —Janel Martinez (Image: Thinkstock; all other images courtesy of subject)
AJILLI HARDY As the first African American female to get a PhD in mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hardy is in a class of her own. She joined General Electric in 2008 and is an energy systems engineer at GE Global Research, where she’s working on projects to lower green house gas emissions and energy consumption as part of the company’s overall ecomagination initiative. Hardy was listed on Black Enterprise‘s 40 Next list in 2010.
JULIA FELIZ SESSOMS Sessoms is director of Global Public Policy and Government Affairs at PepsiCo Inc. She’s responsible for establishing and advancing the company’s global public policy positions on health, wellness, and environmental issues; wwweloping and applying universal stakeholder engagement tactics; and backing PepsiCo’s global Performance with Purpose agenda—an initiative aimed at delivering sustainable growth both on a local and corporate level. Sessoms was featured on BE’s 40 Next list last year.
TINA WELLS The CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group knows exactly what works for the teen demographic. With the help of her nearly 10,000 teen consultants (donned “buzzSpotters”), Wells shares cogent marketing and research strategies concerning beauty, fashion, entertainment and lifestyle with big-name clients, including, Nike, Time, Inc. and Procter & Gamble. The 30-year-old trend spotter penned a tween series, Mackenzie Blue, and is preparing for the release of her latest book: Chasing Youth Culture and Getting It Right, set to be released in April 2011.
SAGE STEELE In a male-dominated field like sports, the ESPNSportsCenter anchor is one of the few females standing—let alone African American women breaking down play-by-plays on-air. Steele joined the ESPN family in 2007. Prior to ESPN, she reported on regional markets as the beat reporter for the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a reporter at FoxSports Net and anchor for ComcastSportsNet.
NIKKI BETHEL Bethel began her career at Home Box Office (HBO) as a recruiting manager, in 2003, and quickly worked her way up to human resources director only three later. Now, as vice president of organizational effectiveness, she heads executive and employee wwwelopment, internal employee communications and programs, as well as integrated business solutions, such as talent appraisal, succession planning and organizational policy. Prior to joining HBO, Bethel worked as a consultant at A-List, where she brainstormed and implemented strategies structured to assist professionals in finding job placement across industries.
AMY ELLIS-SIMON Simon joined Merrill Lynch as a debt and equity analyst shortly after graduating in 1994. Seventeen years later and the University of Michigan graduate is head of middle market and multi-product sales at Bank of America Merrill Lynch—overseeing a group that serves as a single point of contact spanning across debt and equity products, including convertibles, equities, equity derivatives, credit, and credit derivatives. She is the co-founder of the Global Banking & Markets Women’sLeadership Council. The seasoned sales leader was featured on Black Enterprise‘s 75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street list in 2006, followed by the Top 75 Most Powerful Women in Business list in 2010.
TAI BEAUCHAMP BlackEnterprise.com reader may know her as host of The High Life, but the media industry maven’s decade-long career includes, writer and editor positions at O, Suede, Seventeen, Ebony and Life & Style magazines. In 2006, the social entrepreneur founded the BluePrint Group, LLC, a communications and marketing firm focused on bridging the gap between fashion and philanthropy. Beauchamp has appeared as a style expert and personality on various networks, from ABC and NBC Today to BET and TV One.
KIMBERLY STONE The founder and chief executive officer of Poshglam.com created a virtual gathering space for fashionistas or those simply in search of the latest trends and brands to get fashion and event news. The site’s diverse body of writers supplies its followers with an extensive scope on fashion brands.
VALORIE BURTON Burton founded The Coaching and Positive Psychology (CAPP) Institute, in 2001, which provides coach training, as well as corporate and personal wwwelopment services to help individuals thrive in the workforce. She’s no stranger to the media, appearing on major networks such as CNN, in addition to local network affiliates. Burton’s passion for the written word has led the certified professional coach to pen six books, including How Did I Get So Busy and What’s Really Holding YouBack?, both published by divisions of Random House. Her latest book, Where Will You Go From Here?, will be released in June 2011.
MARION JONES The Olympic track and field star has rebounded since her steroid controversy, which resulted in a six-month prison sentence plus two years probation and community service. Now, the 35-year-old track retiree is a member of the WNBA‘s Tulsa Shock and celebrating the release of her newly released book, On the Right Track.