Ken and Caretha Coleman
Silicon Valley power couple Ken and Caretha Coleman have received countless honors for their work. The couple met at HP, where Ken’s résumé had been selected for review by Clay. When the two became one, their personal drive, brainpower, and commitment to helping others more than doubled.
Chairman of Saama Technologies, special adviser to Andreessen Horowitz, former executive vice president of global sales, service and marketing for Silicon Graphics—Ken’s stellar career, directorships, investing, and entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley have led to his receiving numerous honors, including being named one of the Top 25 Black Executives in Tech by Black Enterprise.
Caretha has established a sterling career in the Valley in her own right. A principal of Coleman Consulting and a director at Dignity Health, Caretha is a philanthropist, angel investor, and consultant whose 30-year career has included leadership positions in companies like HP and Spectra Physics.
Despite their myriad accomplishments, the Colemans say they’re proudest of the relationships they’ve helped to forge among African American people. “Never underestimate the value of a single interaction,” Caretha urged the audience after receiving the Trailblazer Award. She also noted that, “legacy is the way you live your life,” not necessarily just what you leave when you stop working. By those lights, we are all crafting our legacy every day.
In his remarks, Ken was quick to acknowledge the influence of Clay on his life, and by extension the supreme value of networking: “Networking brought me to Silicon Valley.” He said, to some laughter, that if 40 years ago an effort had been made to bring together all the African Americans in Silicon Valley, they would have fit around one table—but now there was a room full of people either working in the Valley or committed to increasing diversity there. “We have a long way to go,” he said, “but we’ve come a mighty long way.”
Ken advised the audience to heed the principle of “Little me, big we,” and asserted that “it is impossible to over-network.”
Caretha said later that she was “overwhelmed by the honor” bestowed on her, and that she could not have dreamed, when she was a young woman, that her career and life would have unfolded as spectacularly as it has. “It was probably too much to dream about,” she said, but her dreams for the future are bright: “All that happened today gives me more hope for the future, especially seeing the representation and participation of the young people.”
Ken seemed to sense that the timing of events is more than just fortuitous. “The time is right for a fundamental sea change for black people, and the time is right for Black Enterprise to be instrumental in making that change.” He commended Black Enterprise for its commitment to tell the story of black people in Silicon Valley—and of how important technology is for all people all over the world.
For more about the Black Enterprise Trailblazers Awards Dinner, explore the #TECHCNXT hashtag on the BE Instagram account.