October 7, 2022

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Satisfy the Marketing and advertising Exec Who’s Been Making Her Mark at Apple, Uber and Netflix

In Private Board of Administrators, top rated enterprise leaders talk about the individuals they change to for advice, and how all those individuals have shaped their standpoint and aided them realize success. Previous installments from the series are in this article.

In summer season 2020,

Bozoma Saint John

landed a desire job as main marketing officer of

Netflix Inc.

The streaming huge spends much more than $2 billion a 12 months on promoting. Entertainment “is my sweet location,” she suggests.

The corporation, primarily based in Los Gatos, Calif., is the 10th employer and sixth business throughout Ms. Saint John’s long profession. Bias normally prompted prior occupation adjustments, she says.

“I hit a wall or a ceiling, and I could not crack by means of,’’ she carries on. “As a Black woman, I have had to function considerably more durable to succeed.’’

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

Supportive mentors solidified Ms. Saint John’s robust resolve to go up by going on. “My individual board customers have performed the job of aiding me to have confidence in my instincts,’’ she says.

Bio Bits

  • Age: 44
  • Education: Bachelor’s diploma in English and African-American Experiments from Wesleyan University
  • Loved ones: Daughter Lael, age 12
  • Magic formula talent: Skilled seamstress who has created everything from skirts to curtains
  • Administration mantra: Provide your complete self to perform, even if it’s in glitter or burlap
  • Exciting reality: Opposite to popular perception, I’m not all frills on all the things. My favored ice cream is straight vanilla
  • Peak in heels: Four-inch stilettos are my go-to…which will make me 6’3”
  • Superpower you would like you experienced: Teleportation

The 44-yr-aged govt, who typically goes by her nickname “Boz,” was born months in advance of her father concluded his doctorate in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Her mom and dad, then Ghanaian citizens, returned to Ghana through her infancy.

Ms. Saint John moved to six distinctive locales prior to she turned 13. As a large-school university student in Colorado Springs, Colo., she interned with an obstetrician and regarded turning into a health care provider.

She also liked pop lifestyle, but figured her pastime was “not something to be critical about.” Ms. Saint John reconsidered her health-related-job aim just after being inspired by an African-American experiments course during her freshman 12 months at Wesleyan.

Equipped with a degree in English and African-American research, the 1999 graduate bought hired as an administrative assistant at Spike DDB, a New York advert company headed by film director Spike Lee. She was surprised when he approved her advice that climbing pop star Beyoncé Knowles need to appear in a commercial for

PepsiCo Inc.

“If he experienced picked anyone else, I likely would not be sitting in this article now,” she observes. Ms. Saint John recognized her tips could count, and “the pecking buy does not issue.” She ultimately sophisticated to senior account executive at the company.

In 2005, she joined a Pepsi device as assistant brand manager in multicultural advertising and marketing. Whilst a advertising and marketing govt there a long time afterwards, she aided organize Beyoncé’s 2013 Tremendous Bowl 50 %-time physical appearance and an elaborate introductory Pepsi commercial.

Ms. Saint John captivated even bigger attention at the time she became

Apple Inc.’s

head of global shopper advertising for Apple Audio and iTunes.

She took an unconventional method in describing Apple’s redesigned streaming audio services through its 2016 developers’ meeting. “It was really scary,’’ she remembers. “My model was so different.”

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

Her subsequent stint—as chief brand name officer for

Uber Technologies Inc.

—didn’t final extensive. Hired in June 2017, Ms. Saint John quit following a yr.

She and Uber Chief Executive

Dara Khosrowshahi

disagreed about whether or not improved client provider must be the trip-hailing giant’s best precedence, she says. “We just did not align.’’ An Uber spokesman declined to remark about her temporary tenure.

She upcoming held the prime marketing location at

Endeavor Team Holdings Inc.,

an leisure enterprise acknowledged for symbolizing Hollywood’s largest abilities.

Subsequently “joining Netflix was my biggest advertising and marketing obstacle ever,’’ says Ms. Saint John, who reports to co-CEO

Ted Sarandos.

“I am advertising and marketing to so numerous completely diverse unique titles and messages.”

Further more complicating issues, the Netflix newcomer underwent unexpected emergency medical procedures for appendicitis during her initial week. She resumed perform from her mattress times afterwards.

Her most valued advisers consist of:

Brett O’Brien

Common supervisor of Gatorade at PepsiCo Inc.

The Pepsi government recruited Ms. Saint John simply because he experienced been one particular of her Spike DDB purchasers. He to begin with supervised her at the large meals-and-beverage maker.

She doubted that she would be successful, on the other hand. As opposed to several Pepsi friends, the amateur assistant brand name manager lacked an M.B.A. diploma.

Mr. O’Brien reassured her that “my track record didn’t subject. I could do something,’’ Ms. Saint John continues. His confidence in her skills encouraged at the very least a single of her further market switches.

He says he also urged his protégée to “keep doing you.” A more substantial-than-lifetime personal, “Boz allows her enthusiasm shine as a result of,’’ Mr. O’Brien details out. She didn’t “need to dampen that enthusiasm to in shape any perceived company norms.”

Arianna Huffington

Founder and CEO of Prosper World-wide

The executives satisfied in 2016 at a client-electronics trade present. Ms. Huffington, an Uber board member, inevitably proposed that Ms. Saint John look at leaving Apple for Uber.

“She wanted to be somewhere that would let her entire character glow,’’ Ms. Huffington states. And “Uber essential her specific items.”

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

Travis Kalanick

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

Mr. Kalanick resigned soon soon after Ms. Saint John arrived, pursuing 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 due to the fact she was amazed by her commentary about pop lifestyle on her blog site. The pair have been rapid close friends at any time considering the fact that.

“Luvvie has constantly inspired me to proceed earning trouble,’’ Ms. Saint John claims. Her counsel proved specifically practical when the executive remaining Uber emotion discouraged.

“Am I just seeking for issues in all places I go?” Ms. Saint John remembers inquiring herself. “I really don’t generally want to be the just one who disrupts simply just for the reason that I walk in the doorway. It is exhausting,” she goes on. “Sometimes, I just want to simply just suit in.”

Ms. Saint John need to retain earning the best problems and transformative change simply because she “cannot in good shape in, even if she tries.’’ Mrs. Jones contends. “She is a tall, dark-skinned, Black woman who typically exists in rooms that had been not produced for another person like her.”

The author’s hottest e-book, “Professional Troublemaker,’’ explores how to deal with and normalize dread. She thinks her very best information to Ms. Saint John was that she should quash fears and settle for recurring requests for a TED Speak. We mature by difficult ourselves to do stuff we’re concerned of, Mrs. Jones told her.

Ms. Saint John ultimately shipped her TED Speak in August 2021. The focus of her speak was on working with her instinct every working day.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Actor, producer and author

The pair grew to become acquainted about a 10 years back when the preferred Indian actor appeared on “X Element,” a televised talent show that Pepsi sponsored.

In 2018, Ms. Saint John attended Ms. Chopra’s marriage in India, wherever she married musician Nick Jonas. Right now, the widowed Netflix executive nevertheless struggles to go after her friend’s suggestion that she open up her coronary heart and come across appreciate all over again.

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

“I do know how to get what I want out of my career. I never know how to do that in love,” Ms. Saint John admits. “It’s really painful and frightening.”

Compose to Joann S. Lublin at [email protected]

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