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The story of the concrete ceiling that exists for women in corporate America—particularly African American women—is not a new one, and today’s progress has been slow and not so steady.
Research has shown that though corporate America still presents many opportunities for financial prosperity, upward mobility, and prestige, black women still lag behind in reaping the full benefitsÂ of those opportunities.
There is a silver lining in the fact that corporate experience can equip women of color with the skills needed to succeed in life and business. Many who have ventured on their own journeys to join theÂ fastest growing population of entrepreneurs in the country, have found success in utilizing the skills and lessons learned while seeking to climb the corporate ladder.
Cheryl Wood, an award-winning international speaker and author, decided to do just that after 20 years of working in corporate positions in Washington D.C., and Maryland. She’d built a very comfortable lifestyle early—jumping from high school straight into the workforce—and knew after becoming a wife and mother of three, that she wanted more out of life. She decided to change her mindset on monetizing the skills and talents she’d developed as a leading administrator, and she knew that in order to earn a living on her own terms she’d have to get serious about transitioning into something that would allow her to tap into her passions.
After walking away from her corporate job, she started a mommy T-shirt business featuring motivational phrases to inspire other women who sought career fulfillment. From that momentum, she founded an international speaking and coaching business. Her brand has grown tremendously—she boasts a social media following of more than 11,000—and her insights and expertise on career development, professional transitions, and entrepreneurship have been featured by media, educational institutions, and organizations including Fox News, Essence magazine, Dr. Oz, the Small Business Administration (SBA), and Morgan State University.
She’s recently embarked on yet another transition, launching the Playtime Is Over Women in Business ConferenceÂ that will host industry leadersÂ in Washington D.C. this November.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the busy ‘mommypreneur’ Â to get her secrets to success and tips on using talents and skills learned in corporate America as a springboard for your next career transition.
BlackEnterprise.com: What was the key motivating factor to taking a leap into your current career transition?
Wood: Having the courage to play bigger and achieve higher can be a challenge, especially if you’re in a comfortable space. But it’s confidence in your abilities that propels you to go higher. I have a family. I’m a wife and mother. I wanted to build a legacy that would expand on my passions. I love motivating others to act on what their heart leads them to do, and helping them to create a strategy—a plan—to do that.
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