20 Black Women Of Power & Influence

These African American female corporate executives are shaping the way business is done

African American-owned publishing company in the world and No. 2 has her hands full. Her father, John Johnson, made the Johnson entities a household name stateside; Rice plans to make them global.

Anchored by its magazines: Ebony Jet, Ebony Man and Ebony South Africa; Fashion Fair Cosmetics, which are sold in over 2,500 stores worldwide; the Ebony Fashion Fair fashion show; and other television, publishing and beauty product concerns, the $325 million Chicago-based company continues to be poised for expansion–mostly through joint ventures. “Besides advertising subscriptions and cosmetic lines on our Web site, we have joint venture that will allow us to pay more attention to our South African editorial and aid our new finance, health and parenting video series,” says Rice, 39.

For those soothsayers that say the success of Johnson Publishing is only ensured by taking the company public, the Kellog School of Management graduate says such a prediction is too premature. “Our strategy is to stay private where we would have better control.” Maintaining that control is also anchored in Rice’s basic that often eludes many people in the executive suite. Says the Chicago native: “I consider myself a good listener. I respect my co-workers’ opinions and don’t run roughshod over them. Listening to all of them has been key.”
–Cassandra Hayes

JOYCE ROCHE President and COO Carson Inc.
In two years, Joyce M. Roche, president and chief operating officer of Carson Inc., did what some only dream of. She maneuvered away from a strifling plateau at Avon, landed a prime role in another company and eventually became its president.

As Avon’s vice president of global marketing, she successfully took their ANEW skin care and Avon color cosmetics line global, raising the products’ annual worldwide sales by 170% and 98%, respectively. But Roche, who had already held every marketing job at Avon, became disillusioned with her dwindling autonomy and the company’s foot- dragging in penetrating the global market. In 1994, with no job in the wings, Roche resigned.

After a year, she accepted the same position offer from Carson Inc., the Savannah, Georgia-based company, maker of Dark & Lovely hair care products and Magic Shave. Only this time, she oversees the activities of several key divisions, including sales, marketing, operations, and research and development. Seizing opportunities has been the Louisiana’s native’s modus operandi since her senior year at Dillardd University.

“I was on the path to become an educator, but the Civil Rights movement and affirmative action opened doors to opportunities I hadn’t ever known existed. That is when I decided to go into business,” recalls Roche, who also has an M.B.A. from Columbia University.

Today, which a staff of more than 400 in Savannah and South Africa Roche, 50, is responsible for all day-to-day operating aspects of the $65 million company. Her objective: further penetrate the international front in Africa and South America. This past June, the company also launched the Dark & Lovely cosmetics line. Says Roche: I’ve always been ready to take advantage of an opportunity and give it my all.”
–Robyn Clarke


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