This Chief Brand Officer Says Stop Feeling Guilty About Being an Ambitious Woman - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

As BLACK ENTERPRISE gears up for the 15th anniversary of our Women of Power Summit, we’re talking to the real women getting it done every day about the ways they claim, wield, and restore their power for our new series: Portraits of Power.

Portrait of Power:​ Joy Altimare

Title: ​Chief Engagement and Brand Officer

Employer:​ EHE Health, a 105-year-old preventative healthcare company

Backstory:​ Tennessee native with Jamaican roots; only child from large extended family; started in advertising; became a mom at 38, entered the C-suite at 41; Rosa Parks is her shero but Oprah is her BFF (in her head)

Her big bulging success: ​Altimare interviewed for a role at a startup when she was 8 months pregnant—and got the job!

What’s the best part of your current role? The ability to work in an agile environment across the entire organization. Being the Chief Engagement and Brand Officer means that I have responsibilities that include, but are not limited to, marketing. I am truly interested in how our customers and patients interact with our brand, products and services. I am not just interested in conversions, I’m interested in the conversations we’re having with each stakeholder. I’m looking beyond the transaction toward the engagement. I love that ability to go macro and micro in this role.

Has your career been shaped more by strategy or spontaneity?​ ​A bit of both—I have always wanted to be a marketer. Not sure if I planned on being a CMO, but I wanted to be a change agent who could also be compassionate and empathetic [and] open to a path that was a bit winding.

What’s the most significant decision you’ve made, and how intentional was it? I was very intentional about not having kids until I’d reached a certain flexibility within my career.

Best career decision you ever made? To remove guilt for being an ambitious woman in both my professional and personal life.

What’s been your hardest decision? Sometimes you have to remove yourself from toxic situations and people—that’s been hard. Sometimes you have to disassociate yourself with dream-stealers or angry people. It will begin to feed into your spirit and, when you want to soar, you cannot be heavy with other people’s doubts, distrust and negativity.

What is your process for making big decisions and how has it evolved? I’m in this game not just to be productive today but to have longevity and positive generational impact. So, when I’m faced with a big decision, I ask what does it mean for me, my family, but also my future grandchildren and their children. It’s so important to view life through that lens so that you can thrive, not just survive.

What’s the greatest obstacle you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it? Growing up in the South, I was often told that it was more important to be a lady who was liked, not heard, and who supported the lead of the man in her life. While I value partnership and marriage, as a 5’10”, self-aware and confident black woman, I do have a mind and a voice, both of which I like to use often. So, I have to constantly remind myself that it’s OK that people may not like me, what I say or how I say it. They may not like how I dress or look and they may even have a problem with me “being in the room,” but my ambition is to be respected and valued as a competent contributor to the team. Being liked is not my end game.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self? Be present, lean into your life, and speak up for yourself.

Best advice you ever got? From my dad: “You better like yourself, not just love yourself, because you take yourself wherever you go.”

Proudest accomplishment? My favorite person, my 5-year-old daughter, Ella Helene. She’s named after my first favorite person, my grandmother—Ella Geneva.

Biggest disappointment? I don’t live in disappointments—in every defect, there’s a gem. It’s an opportunity to learn a lesson, or make a new friend or to take a step toward the right direction.

What you’re learning now? Everything. Literally. I’m learning the fundamentals of coding, which is like unlocking a whole new world. I am also learning a little Mandarin as I listen to my daughter’s tutoring lessons.

Do you believe in luck? Nope, I believe that I’m blessed to be prepared for when the opportunity presents itself so I can seize it.

Are you Type A? B? C? Definitely type A. Definitely.

How do you wind down? A glass of wine and some really good jazz or classic R&B.

What’s your biggest wellness challenge? I’ve managed to figure out the daily fitness (running home from dropping my daughter off to school) but I really love acupuncture and massages and I don’t do them as religiously as I used to before Ella was born. Well being is not just about fitness and nutrition—the cognitive piece is essential to creating positive lifestyle and behavior choices, so I need to double-down on finding time to include that part in my life.

Favorite self-care fix? Weekly facials.

Best stress management hack? Weekly Neti pot sessions—it really is a de-stressor, especially if you travel often or live in a congested city like NYC.

Who/what keeps you whole? I’m a Believer, so, 100% my relationship with Christ is what keeps me stable, sane and secure.