BLACK ENTERPRISE began its inaugural Women of Power Tech virtual summit Wednesday with a lineup of dynamic leaders sharing insight and perspective about climbing to the top of the tech industry. Hosted by Ally, the two-day conference provides a rich platform with sessions, workshops, and coaching to help Black women identify new trends and opportunities and gain the tools and skills necessary to advance in tech-driven industries.
One of the keynote speakers was Netflix Global Chief Marketing Officer Bozoma Saint John, who offered a masterclass of information for women looking to power through or to pivot in tech. During a one-on-one conversation with Women of Power Chief Brand Officer Caroline V. Clarke, the marketing superstar shared the keys to her stellar career, which lies at the nexus of culture, celebrity, marketing, and tech.
Here are three gems from the “Masterclass with Badass BOZ!” session at Women of Power Tech.
Transitions Are Hard. Trust Your Gut
Before her appointment as the CMO of Netflix in August, Saint John spent 20 years working in the C-suite of some of the world’s leading brands and tech companies. Most recently, the 43-year-old marketing vet served as the CMO of Endeavor, the parent company of leading talent agency WME, which represents A-list stars like Oprah Winfrey and Matt Damon. Prior to Endeavor, she worked for a little under a year as the Chief Brand Officer for Uber. Saint John has also held top marketing positions at Apple Music, Beats Music, and Pepsi-Cola North America.
Despite her rockstar career, she admitted that her career transitions were difficult, but they taught her to trust her instincts.
“I would not say that transitions are ever easy,” she said, revealing that she would have preferred to work at one company long enough to retire. “But no, that is not, unfortunately, the reality for most Black women,” she continued. “I had to be able to figure out what was going to work for me, what I needed to do in order to advance and to grow because sometimes I couldn’t find those opportunities in the jobs that I was in or at the companies I was in.”
She added, “I couldn’t really wait for anybody to see my work. I had to show them my work and I had to make real active moves to then get the recognition for the work that I was doing.”
The marketing executive went on to reveal that she relies on her intuition when deciding when and how to make a career pivot.
“And, [like] I said, it’s not technical. It’s really my gut or my instinct. I have learned to trust it,” she said.
“Sometimes I’m not being given the opportunities that I know I’m ready for [like] that next promotion or that next bit of power or control over a budget. Or sometimes [there are] shifts in the way that I am valued. That’s when I know it’s time to move on,” she said.
Although Saint John did not confirm reports that she was offered a whopping $7 million salary from Netflix, the marketing guru shared negotiating tips for other Black women.
“First, we have to do our research,” said Saint John, a vocal advocate about knowing your worth and demanding equal pay. Find out the market value of your position, or similar roles, and bring that proof to the table, she advised.
“Next, we have to actually be able to negotiate,” which means speaking with confidence or, in some cases, hiring an attorney or business manager to make those deals on your behalf, she said.
While speaking on-stage at Cannes Lions 2018, Saint John said, “I always asked for whatever a White man is making in that same job.”
Own Who You Are
Noted for her bold fashion sense and style, Saint John encouraged Black women to show up to work as their full authentic selves.
“Advice that I have for us, and for Black women, in particular, is that we actually have to own our unique ability and our unique experiences–and tout them.”
She went on, “I am doing it and I would like the rest of us to continue doing it–to push, push, push –not to subscribe to what has been told to us that we are supposed to look like and behave like, but to really be who we are and therefore, make room for others when it’s their turn.”
At another point, Saint John admitted that “these rooms are simply not built for us.” However, rather than conforming, the CMO says standing out has been a key driving force in her success.
“I don’t know that I want to belong because if I belong then I won’t be fearless, and I won’t fight. I’ll get too comfortable,” she said. “I don’t want to feel the comfortability of being embraced just yet. It’s helped me to be the warrior and fighter.”
Watch “Fame, Fortune, and Werk–A Masterclass with Badass BOZ!” below.