The Most Powerful Women in Business: McDonald’s Debbie Roberts

Debbie Roberts

Having climbed the ranks from an entry-level accountant to East Zone president at McDonald’s, Debbie Roberts’ career trajectory proves that in corporate America, nothing can replace hard work.

Roberts began her career with the fast food giant in 1990 and she steadily progressed to become vice president, general manager for the company in 2009. Roberts held this position for three years before taking on the role of senior vice president, restaurant support officer in 2012—the position she held prior to her current role. It was at this point in her career that she realized her potential for C-suite success.

“When I first became a senior vice president, I acknowledged that it was a sizable promotion at a Fortune 100 company,” she states. “I continued to have conversations with my senior leadership team about people viewing me as someone who had more potential to do more things. I gained confidence that people thought I had more bandwidth and capacity to lead more initiatives and drive profitability for the brand.”

From the time Roberts can remember, her plan was always to be in a leadership role. She quickly realized that McDonald’s afforded her unbelievable opportunities to achieve her goals. Roberts nurtured her career in accounting for seven years before transitioning into marketing. From a regional marketing supervisor, she worked her way up to senior marketing director, overseeing the market activities of seven regions. Eventually, Roberts took the advice of a mentor who encouraged her to look into management and McDonald’s executive fast track. This meant going into restaurant operations. The rest is history.

Now, leading talent and brand development strategy to drive long-term growth for nearly 3,000 McDonald’s throughout the Northeast United States, Roberts’ career has reached heights she hadn’t foreseen. “This job that I’m in today is almost unimaginable. I won’t pretend like it was part of my plan, and every day when I wake up I’m just completely thankful. I feel very blessed that I get the opportunity to do this.”

Roberts attributes her career climb to her commendable work ethic. “I may not always be the smartest person in the room and have the highest IQ,” she states, “but no one’s ever going to outwork me.”

See the full list of the Most Powerful Women in Business.

The Most Powerful Women in Business: WNBA’s Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders

With more than 25 years of experience in marketing, operations, and public service, Lisa Borders has built a reputation of being the go-to executive you hire when you want your company “fixed.” She gained this reputation as an executive who assesses problems, aligns solutions, and then activates.

Now, as the fourth president of the WNBA, Borders looks to pull the 20-year-old league ahead financially and commercially—which has proved to be a stubborn battle in the past. Borders is eager to broaden the scope of the league and increase the visibility of its players so it isn’t just about basketball, but it’s about recognition and female empowerment.
“I want this league to be even more successful than it is today,” says Borders. “I don’t just want it to survive. I want it to thrive. I want to go on the path of sustainability where every team is making money, and every team is operationally stable.”

Borders first knew she had the potential to be a powerful leader in 2004 when she was elected vice mayor of Atlanta and president of the city council. She understood then the magnitude of her potential: “I do know when I was elected that there was recognition that I had a certain set of skills that might be valuable to the city,” reveals Borders. “This was the first tangible evidence that I recognized that I could lead really big things someday. I’m not sure I really believed it until after that election.”

Following that, Borders served for three years as chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation and vice president, Global Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Co. Formerly, she was President of Henry W. Grady Health System Foundation where she completed a five-year, $325 million fundraising effort.

Her career calling is to help organizations reach their full potential and go from good to great. “There’s no better place for me to be as a fixer because that’s what I am,” states Borders.

Though Borders embraces the power and responsibility that comes with having the reins as WNBA president, she emphasizes that real power in leadership is in investing in those that follow you. “Being powerful means helping someone else find their voice,” says Borders. “Often folks take power to mean personal privilege. I think it means just the opposite. It’s a collective obligation to give back to make sure that the next person has a better opportunity than you have.”

See the full list of the Most Powerful Women in Business.

The Most Powerful Women in Business: WNBA’s Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders

With more than 25 years of experience in marketing, operations, and public service, Lisa Borders has built a reputation of being the go-to executive you hire when you want your company “fixed.” She gained this reputation as an executive who assesses problems, aligns solutions, and then activates.

Now, as the fourth president of the WNBA, Borders looks to pull the 20-year-old league ahead financially and commercially—which has proved to be a stubborn battle in the past. Borders is eager to broaden the scope of the league and increase the visibility of its players so it isn’t just about basketball, but it’s about recognition and female empowerment.
“I want this league to be even more successful than it is today,” says Borders. “I don’t just want it to survive. I want it to thrive. I want to go on the path of sustainability where every team is making money, and every team is operationally stable.”

Borders first knew she had the potential to be a powerful leader in 2004 when she was elected vice mayor of Atlanta and president of the city council. She understood then the magnitude of her potential: “I do know when I was elected that there was recognition that I had a certain set of skills that might be valuable to the city,” reveals Borders. “This was the first tangible evidence that I recognized that I could lead really big things someday. I’m not sure I really believed it until after that election.”

Following that, Borders served for three years as chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation and vice president, Global Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Co. Formerly, she was President of Henry W. Grady Health System Foundation where she completed a five-year, $325 million fundraising effort.

Her career calling is to help organizations reach their full potential and go from good to great. “There’s no better place for me to be as a fixer because that’s what I am,” states Borders.

Though Borders embraces the power and responsibility that comes with having the reins as WNBA president, she emphasizes that real power in leadership is in investing in those that follow you. “Being powerful means helping someone else find their voice,” says Borders. “Often folks take power to mean personal privilege. I think it means just the opposite. It’s a collective obligation to give back to make sure that the next person has a better opportunity than you have.”

See the full list of the Most Powerful Women in Business.

The Most Powerful Women in Business 2017

Powerful Women

What makes a powerful businesswoman powerful? What is the secret sauce; that innate quality that helps successful women start, manage, or transform some of the largest companies in the world? We decided to ask some power players across a range of backgrounds—a president of a major sports league, a marketing guru for one of the most influential global brands ever created, and an executive that leads divisional operations for one of the most iconic fast food chains.

The relentless pursuit of excellence is nothing new to these women. According to a 2015 study on Black Women and Leadership by the Center for Talent Innovation, black women are 2.8 times as likely as white women to aspire to a powerful position with a prestigious title. The study also found that black women have been “leaning in” for generations. They are far more confident in their business roles (43% vs. 30% of white women) that they can succeed in a position of power, and they’re clear on what they want to achieve outside the office: financial independence, personal growth, and social justice. They’re also more likely to say they’re able to empower others and be empowered (57% vs. 42%).

For example, let’s take a look at our cover subjects. Lisa Borders, president of the WBNA, brings over 25 years of experience to the league after serving as chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation and president of the City Council/vice mayor of Atlanta. Bozoma Saint John brings massive influence to Apple as head of Global Consumer Marketing, iTunes & Apple Music. Debbie Roberts leads strategy, talent, and brand development to drive long-term growth for thousands of McDonald’s throughout the Eastern United States.

These women represent our esteemed Most Powerful Women in Business—a listing that crosses industry, public and private companies, and roles. The impressive credentials of the women on this list place them among some of the most influential executives and entrepreneurs in the country. Despite consistent barriers to entry, these women continue to use their leadership prowess to manage the bottom line but also to shape the direction of future generations of business leaders.

 

How we selected our most powerful women:

To identify our Most Powerful Women in Business, our editorial and research teams conducted in-depth research; scoured our Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America, Leading Women in Marketing and Advertising, 75 Most Powerful Women in Business, The B.E. Corporate Directors Registry, and BE 100s listings; consulted associations; and reviewed a great number of bios and résumés. Our selections met the following criteria:

• Many executives are among the highest ranked in their companies; they hold C-suite positions including CEO, CMO, COO, CAO, CHRO, and CIO.

• Other executives have president, executive vice president, managing director, general counsel or senior vice president roles but manage significant lines of business or serve as representatives on the executive leadership teams of their company. They also contribute to the development of business operational and financial policies and strategies of their companies.

• Executives of major corporate foundations and large nonprofits were included. However, those holding the position of chief diversity officer, or executives who oversee corporate communications, investor relations, and external affairs were not.

• The BE 100s CEOs included those who manage businesses that are among the largest black-owned companies across industrial categories.

To see the full list of our Most Powerful Women in Business, click here.

Watch Why Many Professional Black Women are Depressed and Have No Idea

depressed

We appear to have it all together. We’re dressed to impress, our hair is ever-laid. We’re dining at the finest restaurants, driving luxury cars, and pulling up to the most beautiful homes with the most loving families, yet many of us are depressed.

This is the story of Lisa Brown Alexander, successful president and CEO of Nonprofit HR, the nation’s leading full-service human resources firm focused exclusively on the nonprofit sector. Though immensely successful in corporate America, Brown Alexander suffered in silence for five years before seeking the necessary help to combat depression.

The time Brown Alexander spent with her depression untreated is not uncommon.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research reflects that only 12% of affected African American women seek help and treatment. “Many African American women do not get treatment because of a widespread belief that depression is evidence of personal weakness and not a legitimate health problem,” states Brown Alexander.

After years of crying that seemed to have no end, Brown Alexander sought the counsel of a trusted professional. While on her road to recovery, she began journaling about her process, which later flourished into her recent book, Strong on the Outside, Dying on the Inside. This book can be used as a resource and call to action to those that are seeking to heal as they battle the stigmas of depression. Brown Alexander’s book offers testimony, advice, and a roadmap infused with faith, courage, and hope for those who are looking to suffer no more.

She encourages women to be real with their pain and mental health and to understand that it’s OK to ask for help and understand that you can be treated.

BlackEnterprise.com sat down for a one-on-one with Brown Alexander as she shared her journey to and through depression while offering insight on how you may confront and overcome depression too.



Watch Why Many Professional Black Women are Depressed and Have No Idea

depressed

We appear to have it all together. We’re dressed to impress, our hair is ever-laid. We’re dining at the finest restaurants, driving luxury cars, and pulling up to the most beautiful homes with the most loving families, yet many of us are depressed.

This is the story of Lisa Brown Alexander, successful president and CEO of Nonprofit HR, the nation’s leading full-service human resources firm focused exclusively on the nonprofit sector. Though immensely successful in corporate America, Brown Alexander suffered in silence for five years before seeking the necessary help to combat depression.

The time Brown Alexander spent with her depression untreated is not uncommon.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research reflects that only 12% of affected African American women seek help and treatment. “Many African American women do not get treatment because of a widespread belief that depression is evidence of personal weakness and not a legitimate health problem,” states Brown Alexander.

After years of crying that seemed to have no end, Brown Alexander sought the counsel of a trusted professional. While on her road to recovery, she began journaling about her process, which later flourished into her recent book, Strong on the Outside, Dying on the Inside. This book can be used as a resource and call to action to those that are seeking to heal as they battle the stigmas of depression. Brown Alexander’s book offers testimony, advice, and a roadmap infused with faith, courage, and hope for those who are looking to suffer no more.

She encourages women to be real with their pain and mental health and to understand that it’s OK to ask for help and understand that you can be treated.

BlackEnterprise.com sat down for a one-on-one with Brown Alexander as she shared her journey to and through depression while offering insight on how you may confront and overcome depression too.



This Woman Could Be the Reason You’re Laughing

Jamila Hunter

If any of the ABC comedies of the last five years have left you in stitches, then you need to take a moment to give thanks for Senior Vice President, ABC Comedy, Jamila Hunter.

Hunter has had the task of overseeing development and production of some of the network’s most recent groundbreaking productions including Emmy-nominated, black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Real O’Neals and the return of Last Man Standing.

Hunter will be in attendance at the 2017 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, March 9th-12th in Phoenix, Arizona, along with the president of Martin Chase Productions, Debra Martin Chase, and Nina Shaw, founding partner of Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano. Hunter and the other panelists will offer entertainment industry insight on emerging opportunities and the work that needs to be done.

BlackEnteprise.com recently caught up with Hunter to find out how she attained her current level of success:

To what do you attribute your success in the entertainment industry thus far?

I don’t believe that anyone succeeds in this business without building strong relationships. I’ve been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors in both my personal and professional life. I also have a strong network of peers—people who “started out on the bottom” with me and we’ve worked our way up the ladder together. You hear a great deal about managing up, but I’ve found it to be equally important to form connections with my peers. My colleagues have often been my strongest advocates and best partners.

How have you attained career longevity in a perceivably fickle industry? 

Anyone who chooses a career in the entertainment industry knows that it’s not a stable, predictable career choice. It’s impossible to plan for longevity, so that has never been my focus. I’ve always been committed to working hard, following my interests and passions, and not allowing fear to guide my decisions. As a result, my career path is probably a bit more eclectic than your average executive. I’ve worked in various genres (miniseries, alternative, specials, comedy) and have network, studio, and cable experience. My varied development and production background probably exposes me to more opportunities than executives with fewer areas of expertise.

What does the next level look like in your career?

We are living in interesting times as technology continues to cause major shifts in our core business model. I’m really passionate about finding innovative ways to discover and incubate new talent, connect with our audience, and evolve our business.

Building a more robust and diverse talent pipeline is also a focus for me. I’ve been working with our recruiters to target kids outside of the typical Hollywood rotation (i.e., HBCUs, community colleges, high schools, etc.) to build connections in our often insulated industry for the next generation of storytellers.

What challenges have you faced as an African American woman executive in Hollywood and how have you overcome them?

I’ve often been the only woman, the only black woman, and the youngest executive in the room. All three of those factors come with their own unique challenges. There are a handful of executives who I’ve always been able to call when faced with challenging situations. I usually take a walk and call from my cell phone. They allow me to vent and then strategize with me before I take action. I certainly couldn’t imagine confronting those situations alone.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get their foot in the door on Hollywood’s corporate side?

My advice is to stay true to your vision for your career. Don’t allow anyone else to dictate your path.

What can attendees of the 2017 BE Women of Power Summit expect to learn from your “Transforming an Industry, One Successful Sister at a Time” panel?

I hope that our panel highlights the unique paths that each woman has taken to reach authentic success. There is not one way to reach success. There is not one definition of success—there are many.

Register now to learn more from Hunter at the 2017 BE Women of Power Summit. See you March 9-12 in Phoenix!

This Woman Could Be the Reason You’re Laughing

Jamila Hunter

If any of the ABC comedies of the last five years have left you in stitches, then you need to take a moment to give thanks for Senior Vice President, ABC Comedy, Jamila Hunter.

Hunter has had the task of overseeing development and production of some of the network’s most recent groundbreaking productions including Emmy-nominated, black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Real O’Neals and the return of Last Man Standing.

Hunter will be in attendance at the 2017 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, March 9th-12th in Phoenix, Arizona, along with the president of Martin Chase Productions, Debra Martin Chase, and Nina Shaw, founding partner of Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano. Hunter and the other panelists will offer entertainment industry insight on emerging opportunities and the work that needs to be done.

BlackEnteprise.com recently caught up with Hunter to find out how she attained her current level of success:

To what do you attribute your success in the entertainment industry thus far?

I don’t believe that anyone succeeds in this business without building strong relationships. I’ve been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors in both my personal and professional life. I also have a strong network of peers—people who “started out on the bottom” with me and we’ve worked our way up the ladder together. You hear a great deal about managing up, but I’ve found it to be equally important to form connections with my peers. My colleagues have often been my strongest advocates and best partners.

How have you attained career longevity in a perceivably fickle industry? 

Anyone who chooses a career in the entertainment industry knows that it’s not a stable, predictable career choice. It’s impossible to plan for longevity, so that has never been my focus. I’ve always been committed to working hard, following my interests and passions, and not allowing fear to guide my decisions. As a result, my career path is probably a bit more eclectic than your average executive. I’ve worked in various genres (miniseries, alternative, specials, comedy) and have network, studio, and cable experience. My varied development and production background probably exposes me to more opportunities than executives with fewer areas of expertise.

What does the next level look like in your career?

We are living in interesting times as technology continues to cause major shifts in our core business model. I’m really passionate about finding innovative ways to discover and incubate new talent, connect with our audience, and evolve our business.

Building a more robust and diverse talent pipeline is also a focus for me. I’ve been working with our recruiters to target kids outside of the typical Hollywood rotation (i.e., HBCUs, community colleges, high schools, etc.) to build connections in our often insulated industry for the next generation of storytellers.

What challenges have you faced as an African American woman executive in Hollywood and how have you overcome them?

I’ve often been the only woman, the only black woman, and the youngest executive in the room. All three of those factors come with their own unique challenges. There are a handful of executives who I’ve always been able to call when faced with challenging situations. I usually take a walk and call from my cell phone. They allow me to vent and then strategize with me before I take action. I certainly couldn’t imagine confronting those situations alone.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get their foot in the door on Hollywood’s corporate side?

My advice is to stay true to your vision for your career. Don’t allow anyone else to dictate your path.

What can attendees of the 2017 BE Women of Power Summit expect to learn from your “Transforming an Industry, One Successful Sister at a Time” panel?

I hope that our panel highlights the unique paths that each woman has taken to reach authentic success. There is not one way to reach success. There is not one definition of success—there are many.

Register now to learn more from Hunter at the 2017 BE Women of Power Summit. See you March 9-12 in Phoenix!

Culture Clash: Are You the Right Fit For Your Company?

culture

We get these job offers and we’re tremendously excited because meaningful employment is real. After that excitement begins to wear down, though, we live with the reality that there are aspects, aside from simply being offered a job that should inform the decision on where you work.

It’s all about the culture.

Workplace culture, seemingly now more than ever before, can be a deal maker or breaker when determining exactly where you want to spend 40+ hours of your precious time during the week.

Below is a brief guide to help you decide what may/may not work for you at work:

 

Introvert vs. Extrovert

 

If you’re a natural introvert and you prefer to keep it that way, you may not want to work in a cubicle-less workspace with an open floor plan, notably rambunctious interactions and midday team foosball. Be sure to inquire about the general nature of your potential co-workers in the interview process to see if their natural way of being would negatively affect yours.

 

Traditional vs. New Age

 

Nowadays, many professionals are choosing to work from home if they have that option. Working from home is becoming so prevalent, in fact, that some businesses are opting out of traditional office spaces to save cost. If you’re accustomed to, or prefer, seeing your co-workers on a daily basis, having constant face time with your bosses, showing up to work at 9 a.m. sharp, and having more structure to your day, this may not work for you.

 

Partiers vs. Wallflowers

 

If you’re a natural party animal who watches the clock, daily, in anticipation of a 5 p.m. happy hour but none of your co-workers drink, this may be something to consider. Yes, you may always save your cocktails for a time with friends, but if the “dry” culture at work still seems a little stiff, this may not be the crowd for you.

 

Suits vs Sweats

 

This may be easier to gauge given your industry. If not, be sure to inquire about your potential employer’s dress code. If you don’t own a single pair of slacks and have no intention of purchasing any, you may want to reconsider a position that requires suits and ties.

 

Left Wing vs. Right Wing

 

Agreeing or disagreeing with an employer’s political stance may be more important than you think. Political alignments can be telling. If you’re a completely liberal, left-wing individual joining a conservative, right-winged company, understand that there may be space and opportunity for dissonance. Who needs any more of that at work?

There are several other factors that may determine if a workplace is a fit for you. Here is the bottom line: ask yourself if your vision, values, beliefs, personality, attitude, and behavior align with those of your potential employer? This may be a little difficult to gauge in the interviewing or onboarding process but it’s certainly worth the inquiry.

An ill-fitted work culture could mean long, miserable days and regretful nights. Time’s too precious, do what you can to make sure it’s spent right.

 

 

 


Safon Floyd is the Digital Editor at Black Enterprise. Follow her @accordingtofon.

Culture Clash: Are You the Right Fit For Your Company?

culture

We get these job offers and we’re tremendously excited because meaningful employment is real. After that excitement begins to wear down, though, we live with the reality that there are aspects, aside from simply being offered a job that should inform the decision on where you work.

It’s all about the culture.

Workplace culture, seemingly now more than ever before, can be a deal maker or breaker when determining exactly where you want to spend 40+ hours of your precious time during the week.

Below is a brief guide to help you decide what may/may not work for you at work:

 

Introvert vs. Extrovert

 

If you’re a natural introvert and you prefer to keep it that way, you may not want to work in a cubicle-less workspace with an open floor plan, notably rambunctious interactions and midday team foosball. Be sure to inquire about the general nature of your potential co-workers in the interview process to see if their natural way of being would negatively affect yours.

 

Traditional vs. New Age

 

Nowadays, many professionals are choosing to work from home if they have that option. Working from home is becoming so prevalent, in fact, that some businesses are opting out of traditional office spaces to save cost. If you’re accustomed to, or prefer, seeing your co-workers on a daily basis, having constant face time with your bosses, showing up to work at 9 a.m. sharp, and having more structure to your day, this may not work for you.

 

Partiers vs. Wallflowers

 

If you’re a natural party animal who watches the clock, daily, in anticipation of a 5 p.m. happy hour but none of your co-workers drink, this may be something to consider. Yes, you may always save your cocktails for a time with friends, but if the “dry” culture at work still seems a little stiff, this may not be the crowd for you.

 

Suits vs Sweats

 

This may be easier to gauge given your industry. If not, be sure to inquire about your potential employer’s dress code. If you don’t own a single pair of slacks and have no intention of purchasing any, you may want to reconsider a position that requires suits and ties.

 

Left Wing vs. Right Wing

 

Agreeing or disagreeing with an employer’s political stance may be more important than you think. Political alignments can be telling. If you’re a completely liberal, left-wing individual joining a conservative, right-winged company, understand that there may be space and opportunity for dissonance. Who needs any more of that at work?

There are several other factors that may determine if a workplace is a fit for you. Here is the bottom line: ask yourself if your vision, values, beliefs, personality, attitude, and behavior align with those of your potential employer? This may be a little difficult to gauge in the interviewing or onboarding process but it’s certainly worth the inquiry.

An ill-fitted work culture could mean long, miserable days and regretful nights. Time’s too precious, do what you can to make sure it’s spent right.

 

 

 


Safon Floyd is the Digital Editor at Black Enterprise. Follow her @accordingtofon.