Bozoma Saint John and Amber Grimes
It’s a vital time for women. After decades of warming the bench in the workforce, we are rising to the top. We’re more likely than men to have earned a higher degree by the time we hit our 30s. We’re nearly 50 percent of the workforce. And we’re finally seeing strides in the pay gap—we’re even approaching the first time in history when women will have more collective wealth than men.
How did we do it? It’s been a long haul, but at its root is “women supporting women.” That old trope—based on the notion that we as a pack can be more successful than if we simply “lean in” on our own—no doubt had something to do with it.
So we turned to some of the leading women in a variety of industries, from business to the arts and media, to find out just how strong that support is. These trailblazers answered the question: “Who’s the next you?” and their responses, invariably, brought us to a new generation of young and talented women whom we fully expect to shape the very bright future of women in the workforce.
Read on to meet the women you should know now.
Bozoma Saint John and Amber Grimes
Bozoma “Boz” Saint John elevated the brands of PepsiCo, Apple and Uber before becoming the chief marketing officer for global media behemoth Endeavor. The business celebrity—whose new docuseries, Bozoma: Being Badass, will debut on the Starz network later this year—met Capitol Music Group’s senior vice president of global creative Amber Grimes last year at the Roots Picnic in Philadelphia.
“My first impressions of Amber were that she’s sharp, witty, ambitious and beautiful—she’s the dopest! We’re both committed to black excellence and to showing the world it’s possible to be a double minority and succeed. Amber is unflinching in her desire to make the best of every situation: She’s unafraid of unknown spaces.
Her current job is remarkable. She is a young woman who has risen quickly, and that’s because of her grit, tenacity and smarts. There aren’t many people who have achieved what she has in the amount of time she has. I credit her level of focus. She hustles to find opportunities that she deeply cares about, and she won’t let them fail.
Where do I see her in five, 10 or even 20 years? I have no idea, but if I had to guess, she’ll be curating a magical cultural experience on Mars. She’s so special.”
Bobbi Brown and Hannah Bronfman
In 1991, Bobbi Brown founded her eponymous makeup line with a capsule collection of lipsticks; within a few years, she was one of the biggest names in beauty. Decades and nine books later, Brown’s empire continues to grow, most recently with the launch of her highly successful website JustBobbi.com. Along the way, she met Hannah Bronfman, a former DJ turned wellness entrepreneur who has become a digital guide and all-around inspiration for the makeup maven.
“I fell in love with Hannah when I first met her. She has lights in her eyes, the most beautiful skin and body— she’s not about skinny, she’s about strong. We talked a mile a minute about everything from the new world she was leading to building a brand, and what it takes—how to live your life, and be happy.
We have several things in common: being very naive, for example, meaning we don’t worry that something’s not going to work. We are very positive and excited about what we’re doing and see opportunity where no one else does, and then act on it. She’s relentless, and I’m the same way: You just keep going.
I’ve heard people say I was a name-dropper. The first time that happened was when I’d done something so cool, and it happened to be with someone well-known, and I wanted to relay my excitement. I’m sure Hannah has heard people say the same about her. She has access to lots of interesting people whose stories she shares on Instagram.
There’s a realness to her, an authenticity which doesn’t usually happen until you’re in your fifties or sixties. She is what she preaches. And she’ll educate me on wellness. I have her on speed dial when I need a [recommendation for] a facial or a massage. We share a lot of that.”
Alexandra Champalimaud and Anna Beeber
Interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud has become synonymous with good taste: Her singular style can be found everywhere from LA’s Hotel Bel-Air to the Carlyle in New York. Increasingly by her side is Anna Beeber, a principal designer at her firm who has risen through the ranks from an entry-level position nearly a decade ago.
“Anna and I bonded instantly. The fact that she was true to herself was important to me: She had stepped out, stepped up, and stepped away doing different things from her family back in Alaska.
Right at the beginning, I took Anna on a job with a wonderful older gentleman who had extensive residences and homes. He was rather méfiant, as the French say—careful that people didn’t take advantage of him, as I’m sure people had done before. Approaching work with him, one had to be very careful. And as a very, very junior person, Anna showed such leadership skills in engaging this gentleman. By one point, he thought she was far more interesting than me, so she took over the job and they’ve been friends ever since.
I’m very inclusive as a leader— generous with my information, but also quite demanding in a soft way. I think Anna has modeled herself after that. She’s someone who can be a team player as well as a leader with enormous potential.”
Yana Peel and Farah Jassat
Philanthropist and Goldman Sachs alumna Yana Peel became CEO of London’s Serpentine Galleries three years ago, after cofounding Outset, a foundation focused on innovative funding solutions for cultural projects. Journalist and former BBC producer Farah Jassat works for Intelligence Squared, a nonprofit media group that organizes live events, where Peel is currently on the board of trustees. The two women met three years ago, when Jassat helped produce a festival of ideas for the Serpentine in collaboration with the BBC.
“Farah has inquisitiveness, curiosity and tenacity. At a time when all of us want immediate, instant gratification, she hunts and waits until the right moment. She’s particularly thoughtful in a way that isn’t necessarily something people would instantly associate with a professional of her age.
She has a boldness to challenge the status quo, wrapped up in her quiet, petite 28-year-old frame. She’s not shy in expressing her own opinions or questioning an organization. I’ve been the same way here at the Serpentine, but it’s interesting to see it in someone who is so much younger than I am. She comes to a situation, pokes and prods it, and is such a quick study.
I think we’re both trying to master storytelling in the digital age, and [we] have a real interest in the human story. We’re always thinking about the future—but making sure no one is left behind in terms of the voices we’re amplifying—and coming up with the most thoughtful way to question a topic, whether it’s about the West engaging with Saudi Arabia or the future of Facebook.
Whatever happens, she will never be replaced by a robot. At her core, she has an ability to pivot, transform and reinvent, which I hope people see in my work as well.”
Debra Lee and Nikkole Denson-Randolph
Media mogul Debra Lee became one of the country’s top female executives during her three decades at BET Networks. Now retired, she serves on the boards of companies including Twitter and Marriott International. Six years ago, at the Black Filmmaker Foundation Summit, she met Nikkole Denson-Randolph, a former executive at Starbucks who now serves as vice president of content strategy and inclusive programming at AMC Theatres.
“I remember Nikkole standing up to answer a question with such poise at that summit. She was personable and very focused on how her business could help other filmmakers. When filmmakers there complained to her about how hard it is to find distribution, she wasn’t defensive. She said, ‘Come talk to me. On Saturday and Sunday, we have a program where we show independent movies. I want to help you out.’
We both have legal training, and she’s an attorney like I am. She has all the wonderful traits that come along with that: In addition to problem-solving, she’s fast on her feet and a great speaker. She’s someone people really enjoy being around.
I’m so impressed with the way she’s handled her career at AMC. She has an unusual position, especially for an African-American woman. The one piece of advice I would give her is to always listen to her inner voice and be true to her own values and what she thinks is right. That’s a hard thing for women in a corporate environment to remember.”
Kara Goldin and Ty Stiklorius
In 2005, former AOL executive Kara Goldin developed Hint, a healthier alternative to flavored water that has since become the largest independent nonalcoholic beverage company in America. Ty Stiklorius—founder of Friends at Work, a boutique firm that combines management services for musicians like John Legend with social activism programs—reached out to Goldin more than a decade ago, after she picked up her first bottle of Hint. Stiklorius would eventually become an investor in Goldin’s company.
“I thought Ty was very smart, beautiful and not concerned with following the rule book in her industry. John [Legend] and Ty had gone to college together and were just really good friends, which is not a traditional way of going to market in the artist-management world.
There were lots of roadblocks in that industry: If you did not have a relationship with Sony, or similar, [the idea was] that you could not be big. It is just like when people told me that if we did not have a relationship [with a major beverage distributor], we could not be a $100 million brand. Ty and I took parallel paths to different places, but they were just as hard.
Ty is a connector, which I think I am as well. She’s constantly there to help. Early on, shortly after she had invested, she opened up her Rolodex. That may sound like an easy thing to do, but people tend to be very guarded, in Hollywood in particular. The festivals we’ve done with our brand, she would figure out the right person in the music world to talk to. I’d never think she wouldn’t connect me.
We think the same way: We may not know the answer today, but we’re going to take it on and solve the problem.”
Amanda Sharp and Victoria Siddall
Amanda Sharp is a force in the art world, having cofounded Frieze, one of the leading contemporary art fairs, in London in 2003. When her show expanded with Frieze Masters—the first edition of which took place in 2012—she knew just the woman for the job: Victoria Siddall, who has since been tasked with running the growing franchise’s shows in New York and Los Angeles.
“On the surface, Victoria and I look and act in different ways, but we have a lot of the same skills. If we were to undergo psychometric testing, like Myers-Briggs, we’d come out as similar types. We share competencies, but have different personalities.
I think it’s important to understand you’ll do better in the workplace if you have work- life balance: I try to never travel on weekends, and I take my kids to school in the morning. Victoria privileges her daughter in a similar way. I love that we have that in common.
Victoria comes from a military family, and she is the trooper to end all troopers. She just got back from LA, where she had food poisoning for four days. But she stood up, did a press conference, and charmed gallerists at lunch, probably all the while trying to avoid throwing up at the table. But no one would have known or had any inkling she was in anything but top form.
She’s a great underpromiser and overdeliverer, and she’s a very modest person. Whether she’s taken Beyoncé around an art fair or been invited to stay on some fabulous yacht, she’s never going to mention it. But I would say one thing: She’s wilder than people realize, and there’s a hidden monkey in there.”
Katrina Adams and Nicole Kankam
When Katrina Adams was appointed chairman, CEO and president of the United States Tennis Association, she became both the youngest and first person of color to hold the positions. A former pro tennis player herself, she met Nicole Kankam, USTA’s current managing director of marketing, more than a decade ago, when Kankam was first hired as a junior staff member.
“Nicole was young, bright-eyed and very intuitive when I first met her. We both exude confidence, but in different ways: I’m pretty loud and boisterous; she isn’t, but you can tell it’s there from the look in her eyes. She doesn’t have that bold personality you expect of someone in marketing. Nicole is quiet and unassuming; she’s elusive in the way she goes about things.
In the same way, we’re both very competitive, but I wear it on my sleeve. According to my mom, I’ve always been competitive at everything I do, even in conversation. Nicole has that quality, too. She will never settle, and her aspiration is always to grow. She is not one of those people who is complacent in her role.
If I could give her the advice I wish I’d been given at her stage in life, I’d say this: Show your weaknesses, because in my opinion, that shows strength. As a professional athlete, I had to be so prepared, to know everything. But you’re not supposed to know everything. That’s why you have people in other roles in the organization.
She’s also a person of color who’s a managing director in an organization where we don’t have a lot of them. There’s always a spotlight on her to see what she can do. She could easily be a chief marketing officer of any company.”