*Wow! Uber is trying to shift their groove in a major way. Why come [sic] no big deal has been made about the fact that they’ve placed a gorgeous African woman from Ghana in the role of Chief Brand Officer with the company nearly four months ago?
That’s like forever ago where news like this is concerned.
The ride-share company brought Bozoma Saint John on board this past June. Perhaps everyone was still distracted by Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, who resigned in disgrace on June 21st after months of complaints about his controversial leadership ethics.
But Saint John’s hiring alone kicks two big complaints about Uber executive staffing practices into another gear. One, she’s a woman (and we’ve heard the sexism accusations made public by female Uber ex-employees), and two, she’s far from Caucasian.
Do I have your attention yet?
Uber is not Saint John’s first time at bat with a huge company. She has been in executive roles at Pepsi, Apple Music and iTunes, and Ashley Stewart just to name a few.
And I think you’ll agree after seeing the video below, where she was interviewed by Gayle King only one month after signing on with the ride-share company that managed to change the entire infrastructure of the transportation industry, she doesn’t fit the mold of your typical, boring, puppet of an executive. Instead, in such an important role as branding honcho, she seems outspoken, fearless and quite unapologetically…
Heck, she once taught a college course on Tupac Shakur, led executives at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on a sing-along to Rappers Delight and even scored a major coupe with Queen Bey.
And get this, in an interview with Glamour magazine Saint John said…
Uber will never be the same after I leave.”
Is it any wonder she’s known as “Badazz Boz” online? Oh, but I SO getting ahead of myself.
In the interview Saint John, who lost her husband, Peter, to a rare form of cancer called Burkitt Lymphoma, recalls how her husband told her to “keep hustling” and why she calls herself “execu-mom.”
Well because you know I do have a cape. It’s hidden, behind my collar,” she jokes with King. “But you know, I’m an executive. I’m a mom. I do everything to the best of my ability. I feel like that’s super.” she continues.
She gets serious when she is asked about what she hopes to inspire in her young daughter.
“I hope she’s learning that lots and lots of things are possible. And that its not always a straight path. And just because things don’t work out you don’t go and hide.”
This self-described “agent of change” says that the exit of former Uber CEO and founder, Travis Kalanick was certainly “difficult.” She tells Kings that any time a major change takes place in a company it’s a challenge. But she also notes that it presented a major opportunity to change some things.
In an interview with Glamour magazine, one week into her position with Uber, Saint John said,
I’ve never taken the easy route. I don’t even know what that is! You have to think about what you’re trying to achieve and then make the move. I always [make decisions] from my gut and follow the path that’s right for me. I’m following the path that was destined for me.
She described what she will do at Uber as Chief Brand Officer in the Glamour interview.
“As the chief brand officer, my primary responsibility is to create and navigate the brand of Uber, externally. So it’s really about assessing what the brand is today and then figuring out a way to connect what is emotional and human about the brand—the drivers and riders and the cities that we’re in—to our customer. So [I’m] coming at it from both ends, from both a human standpoint to connect those emotions to the end user, as well as being an example myself for company culture.”
“The way I behave, the way I interact, the way I live in my life is going to be as important as what I do in my daily work. I’m part of the community and the culture. So I’m going to be a part of what is going to be the future of what the company looks like.”
Her family were the first Ghanaian’s to live in Their Colorado neighborhood.
“But by the time I started college, there were five Ghanaian families,” she tells King.
You see how change happens, people? Baby steps.
One friend this writer mentioned this article to as it was being written was amazed she didn’t know about Saint John at Uber.
“How did this stay under the radar?,” asked Veronica W, herself a Black executive at a local tech company. “Now that I know this, I’m more likely to use Uber than Lyft.”
As always, I welcome Your thoughts in the comments section below.
This feature was written by EURThisNthat senior editor, DeBorah B. Pryor.