In Particular Board of Directors, top enterprise leaders talk about the folks they flip to for tips, and how those people have shaped their standpoint and assisted them succeed. Prior installments from the collection are here.

In summer months 2020,

Bozoma Saint John

landed a dream occupation as chief advertising and marketing officer of

Netflix Inc.

The streaming giant spends more than $2 billion a 12 months on internet marketing. Entertainment “is my sweet place,” she states.

The company, dependent in Los Gatos, Calif., is the 10th employer and sixth sector during Ms. Saint John’s long occupation. Bias normally prompted prior career modifications, she suggests.

“I hit a wall or a ceiling, and I couldn’t split through,’’ she carries on. “As a Black lady, I have had to function a great deal more durable to realize success.’’

The self-proclaimed “badass” is now Netflix’s most senior Black govt.

Supportive mentors solidified Ms. Saint John’s powerful willpower to transfer up by transferring on. “My personalized board members have performed the position of helping me to have faith in my instincts,’’ she suggests.

Bio Bits

  • Age: 44
  • Schooling: Bachelor’s diploma in English and African-American Scientific tests from Wesleyan College
  • Spouse and children: Daughter Lael, age 12
  • Secret expertise: Specialist seamstress who has created anything from skirts to curtains
  • Management mantra: Carry your entire self to operate, even if it’s in glitter or burlap
  • Enjoyment actuality: Contrary to common perception, I’m not all frills on every little thing. My beloved ice product is straight vanilla
  • Top in heels: Four-inch stilettos are my go-to…which will make me 6’3”
  • Superpower you want you experienced: Teleportation

The 44-year-outdated executive, who usually goes by her nickname “Boz,” was born months prior to her father completed his doctorate in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Her dad and mom, then Ghanaian citizens, returned to Ghana throughout her infancy.

Ms. Saint John moved to six various locales in advance of she turned 13. As a higher-school student in Colorado Springs, Colo., she interned with an obstetrician and considered getting a doctor.

She also loved pop culture, but figured her hobby was “not one thing to be critical about.” Ms. Saint John reconsidered her health care-career goal following getting impressed by an African-American scientific studies course in the course of her freshman yr at Wesleyan.

Geared up with a diploma in English and African-American scientific studies, the 1999 graduate bought employed as an administrative assistant at Spike DDB, a New York advert agency headed by movie director Spike Lee. She was stunned when he acknowledged her advice that mounting pop star Beyoncé Knowles should surface in a professional for

PepsiCo Inc.

“If he experienced picked another person else, I most likely wouldn’t be sitting down in this article now,” she observes. Ms. Saint John recognized her suggestions could rely, and “the pecking order does not subject.” She ultimately superior to senior account government at the agency.

In 2005, she joined a Pepsi device as assistant brand name manager in multicultural internet marketing. Although a advertising and marketing executive there a long time later, she aided arrange Beyoncé’s 2013 Tremendous Bowl 50 %-time look and an elaborate introductory Pepsi business.

Ms. Saint John attracted even higher interest once she turned

Apple Inc.’s

head of international purchaser marketing for Apple Audio and iTunes.

She took an abnormal tactic in describing Apple’s redesigned streaming music support all through its 2016 developers’ conference. “It was actually terrifying,’’ she recollects. “My model was so different.”

Ms. Saint John urged the predominantly white male audience to sing “Rapper’s Delight” as she swayed to the hip-hop hit. “Some of you men are not rapping to the conquer,” she chided gentlemen in the viewers.

Her upcoming stint—as main manufacturer officer for

Uber Systems Inc.

—didn’t previous very long. Hired in June 2017, Ms. Saint John quit soon after a year.

She and Uber Chief Govt

Dara Khosrowshahi

disagreed more than whether or not enhanced consumer support really should be the experience-hailing giant’s best precedence, she says. “We just didn’t align.’’ An Uber spokesman declined to comment about her temporary tenure.

She following held the top advertising and marketing place at

Endeavor Team Holdings Inc.,

an entertainment business recognized for representing Hollywood’s largest talents.

Subsequently “joining Netflix was my most significant internet marketing problem ever,’’ says Ms. Saint John, who stories to co-CEO

Ted Sarandos.

“I am advertising and marketing to so many totally diverse particular person titles and messages.”

Further more complicating issues, the Netflix newcomer underwent emergency surgical procedure for appendicitis throughout her first 7 days. She resumed operate from her bed times later on.

Her most valued advisers consist of:

Brett O’Brien

Typical manager of Gatorade at PepsiCo Inc.

The Pepsi executive recruited Ms. Saint John because he experienced been one particular of her Spike DDB purchasers. He at first supervised her at the huge food-and-beverage maker.

She doubted that she would realize success, on the other hand. Contrary to quite a few Pepsi friends, the amateur assistant manufacturer manager lacked an M.B.A. diploma.

Mr. O’Brien reassured her that “my qualifications didn’t matter. I could do something,’’ Ms. Saint John continues. His self confidence in her abilities motivated at least just one of her even further sector switches.

He suggests he also urged his protégée to “keep accomplishing you.” A larger sized-than-daily life unique, “Boz allows her passion shine by way of,’’ Mr. O’Brien details out. She did not “need to dampen that passion to in shape any perceived company norms.”

Arianna Huffington

Founder and CEO of Thrive Worldwide

The executives fulfilled in 2016 at a customer-electronics trade demonstrate. Ms. Huffington, an Uber board member, inevitably proposed that Ms. Saint John consider leaving Apple for Uber.

“She necessary to be somewhere that would enable her complete identity shine,’’ Ms. Huffington says. And “Uber wanted her distinctive items.”

The entrepreneur connected Ms. Saint John with then-Uber CEO

Travis Kalanick

and supported her candidacy. He interviewed her at Ms. Huffington’s Los Angeles household.

Mr. Kalanick resigned soon immediately after Ms. Saint John arrived, adhering to months of scandal and setbacks at Uber.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Writer, speaker and CEO of Awe Luv Media

Ms. Saint John sought an introduction to Mrs. Jones in 2014 for the reason that she was impressed by her commentary about pop culture on her web site. The pair have been fast buddies at any time considering the fact that.

“Luvvie has generally inspired me to continue on creating hassle,’’ Ms. Saint John says. Her counsel proved specially practical when the govt still left Uber feeling discouraged.

“Am I just wanting for problems all over the place I go?” Ms. Saint John remembers inquiring herself. “I do not often want to be the one who disrupts only since I wander in the doorway. It is exhausting,” she goes on. “Sometimes, I just want to just match in.”

Ms. Saint John must retain building the very best trouble and transformative improve for the reason that she “cannot healthy in, even if she attempts.’’ Mrs. Jones contends. “She is a tall, dim-skinned, Black girl who often exists in rooms that were being not established for a person like her.”

The author’s most current guide, “Professional Troublemaker,’’ explores how to deal with and normalize worry. She believes her most effective guidance to Ms. Saint John was that she should really quash fears and accept recurring requests for a TED Speak. We mature by hard ourselves to do things we’re worried of, Mrs. Jones informed her.

Ms. Saint John last but not least sent her TED Chat in August 2021. The focus of her chat was on using her intuition each and every day.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Actor, producer and writer

The pair grew to become acquainted about a 10 years ago when the well-known Indian actor appeared on “X Component,” a televised talent exhibit that Pepsi sponsored.

In 2018, Ms. Saint John attended Ms. Chopra’s wedding in India, exactly where she married musician Nick Jonas. Today, the widowed Netflix executive continue to struggles to go after her friend’s recommendation that she open up her heart and locate really like once again.

Ms. Saint John’s partner, Peter Saint John, died in 2013. Their daughter Lael was then 4.

“I do know how to get what I want out of my occupation. I really don’t know how to do that in adore,” Ms. Saint John admits. “It’s pretty painful and terrifying.”

Publish to Joann S. Lublin at [email protected]

Additional Private Board of Directors

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Business, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

By Anisa