Everybody knows who Oprah Winfrey is, but she is just one of many great African-American role models. Like Oprah is mistress of entertainment, Charles Phillips, Infor CEO, is master of business software. And those are just two examples of African-American leaders. Black women in particular are taking on increasing numbers of high profile positions. Let’s take a look at some of these.
Xerox’ Ursula Burns
Ursula, a child of the New York projects, is now CEO and President of Xerox, where she started working in 1980. Never intending to completely take over the company, she fell into the roll when she quite literally saved the company from going under. She took on the CEO position in 2009.
Merrill Lynch’s Amy Ellis-Simon
Amy is Managing Director at Merrill Lynch. In 1994, she started with the company as an intern. She is now the company’s first African-American managing director. She also co-founded the Three Sisters Scholarship Foundation, and the Global Markets and Investment Banking Women’s Leadership Council.
St. Louis YWCA’s Ardrian E. Bracy
Ardrian was first Controller for the Miami Dolphins before becoming CEO of the St. Louis YWCA. Few women have been able to have as much professional success as her. She has earned a wealth of awards, including the Black Enterprise 50 Most Powerful Black Women in Business and the African-American Women of Distinction award.
Goldman Sachs’ Edith Cooper
Edith is the head of the North American Hedge Fund Distribution division of Goldman Sachs. She started working here in 1996 and, by 1998, she became Managing Director. Two years later, she was made partner. Edith grew up in Manhattan and aspired to own a Madison Avenue fashion boutique. At 17, she had her first child and she says that was the moment her career took off. Now, she has two more children and gives 150% to everything that she does from her glass office with views of New York Harbor.
Polo Ralph Lauren’s Tracey Thomas-Travis
Tracey is CFO and Senior Vice President of Finance at Polo Ralph Lauren. Before that, she was a Pepsi Bottling Group executive. Forbes.com stated that she earns a seven figure yearly income. Clearly, this is one woman who knows how to achieve financial success.
These are just five examples of powerful African-American women. They are true professionals in everything that they do, and this is true for all women who decide to take control of their own success. One of the things that makes black women stand out, however, is that they all seem to give back to the community. Karen Phillips, for instance, college sweetheart and wife of aforementioned Charles Phillips, currently runs a philanthropic organization through which she, her husband, and a team of trusted friends aim to further community outcomes, focusing particularly on black minority community and the STEM fields of research. They are perfect examples of how far people can come if they put their minds to it, and how being from an African-American background, as well as being a woman, can often be a barrier, but one that can be broken.