5 Black Female Executives Share How They Got Into C-Suite Positions

carla harris

What good is making your way to the top if you can’t open up the doors for others? Far too often women, specifically Black women, are pitted against one another with success dangling as an incentive, but there’s so much that happens when women build an empire while helping others up along the way.

Paying it forward just may be how certain women of power have managed to reach the heights of success or the hustle and grind of working to get to the top could be another reason that women go so hard to help uplift one another. Whatever the case, it’s important to not only highlight those achieving the pinnacles of their wildest dreams, but to also champion them for creating opportunities at the same time.

These boss babes have managed to secure the bag as executives, but the advice and ways that they inspire other women is just as applaudable.

Valeisha Butterfield-Jones

Becoming the co-president of The Recording Academy is no easy feat, but like much of Butterfield Jones’ career, the challenge was accepted. As a global business leader, this boss lady made history in 2020 when she became the organization’s first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer. She is also the former global head of inclusion for Google, Inc. where she manages to not only take diversity, equity and inclusion to the next level, but also serve as a voice for the underrepresented communities both internally and externally across the brand.

valeisha butterfield

Image source: Black Enterprise

Beyond the C-Suite, Butterfield Jones is also quite the philanthropist. She helped to co-found the Women In Entertainment Empowerment Network back in 2007. The nonprofit global coalition served as a stepping stone for budding women looking to land positions within the industry. Additionally, she created Mast(HER)ed, a webinar series committed to helping aspiring industry leaders to not only connect, but to inspire one another along the way.

Words of advice: “Sometimes we forget that leadership can be lonely,” she recently told ESSENCE. “When you pick up the phone to motivate, support or have the back of another Black woman, you’d be surprised how many of us need it.”

Alissa J. Abdullah, PhD

Known as her colleagues as Dr. Jay, this boss serves as the Senior Vice President and Deputy Chief Security Officer of Operations and Technology at Mastercard. Throughout her time at the company, she has helped to protect Mastercard’s information assets while also driving the future of security at the financial services.

dr jay

Image source: Cyber Security Ventures

As the former deputy chief information officer of the White House, she understands the importance of securing data at the highest level. She is proof that the knowledge of Black women almost always serves as the backbone to our nation.

Words of Advice: “Just do it!” Dr Jay told CyberCrime Magazine in 2020. “There are so many different opportunities that it is quite simple to find your passion in a cybersecurity theme. Take the time to be real about who you are and what you enjoy, and then look and see how that marries with cybersecurity opportunities.  There is an opportunity for EVERYONE.”

Dazayah Walker

At just 24, Walker manages the investment portfolio for one of the hottest music labels in the game. She managed to use an internship at Quality Control to take her career to an all-new level, and Walker has done it her own way taking the nontraditional route to becoming a venture capitalist and not taking no for an answer.

dazayah walker

Image source: People Of Color In Tech

Along with her leadership as the Investment Portfolio Manager and Operations Manager for the label responsible for acts like City Girls, Lil Baby, and Migos, Walker uses her platform to share her journey, providing tips for budding executives who aim to bridge the gap between the culture and technology.

Words of Advice: “It’s all in the approach! Whenever you are presenting yourself, whether you’re an artist or someone inquiring about prices with a stylist, manners never go out of style,” wrote Walker via Dumpor. “Take the time to make a proper introduction.”

Carla Harris

As one of the top Black women breaking barriers in the finance industry, Harris served as the Vice-Chair at Morgan Stanley, a global investment bank providing investment banking, investment management services, securities, and wealth management. Harris managed to rise to the top as a Black woman in Wall Street and played a pivotal role in the company’s wealth management sector.

Carla Harris

Image source: Forbes

Harris is now a senior client adviser to the firm and also serves as a managing director. Her journey will inspire other young women to know the value of what they’re bringing to the table when it comes to competing with America’s “old boys club.”

Words of Advice: Harris once said that success on Wall Street is all about “finding allies,” in an interview with Bloomberg.

Bari Williams

Williams is the Chief Operating of data and analytics tech company Bandwagon Fan Club, Inc. which focuses on the sports and entertainment space. She also leads the charge as diversity, inclusion, and corporate social responsibility consultant and considers herself to be a diversity activist.

bari williams

Image source: Bari Williams 

As a published writer in the New York Times, Wired, Fortune, and Fast Company, Williams shares her journey to finding her footing among the male-dominant tech industry by being strategic with the opportunities that came her way. Williams has fought many battles to open the doors for other young women in the technology space.

Words of advice: “Diversity gets people in the door; inclusion keeps them there,” wrote Williams on her website.

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