the black woman`s

Comments

Transcription

the black woman`s
XO O
O XX X
AREER
In order to succeed in ­business
or the workplace, we all must
master the skills required for
success. On the pages that ­
follow, Black women across the
career spectrum divulge their
top ground rules for ­excelling on
the job, share how they turned
setbacks into ­comebacks, offer
a blueprint for powering up your
work ­profile and teach you how
to use ­innovation to grow your
dream business. Let’s get to work!
LAYB
HAIR , DERICK MON ROE /DERICKMON ROE.COM . MAKEU P, J EN NAVARO FOR NARS/J U M P.
ALL CLOTHING , TOM MY HILFIG ER . FOR DE TAILS , SEE WH ERE TO BU Y.
THE BLACK WOMAN’S
EDITED BY TANISHA A. SYKES
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SPENCER HEYFRON
visit
ESSENCE .com
A P R I L 2 0 1 4 | E S S E N C E 8 3
XO O
O XX X
X
X X XO O
OO O X
THE
BLACK
WOMAN’S
CAREER
PLAYBOOK
A
s we watched more and more Black women run everything from Fortune 500
companies and multimillion-dollar divisions to their own lucrative enterprises, we wondered what navigation tools these superstars used to reach
such heights. To find out, ESSENCE interviewed more than 25 Black women
of various ages, industries and positions to uncover what propelled their success. While some named passion as the most important driver, others said
execution and building strategic relationships allowed them to soar above
the competition. All agreed on the following: Equipping yourself with knowledge, being a problem solver and bringing extraordinary ideas to every situation are a proven formula
for achievement. In this special career package, you’ll learn how the tools, tactics and strategies they’ve
employed can help you create a winning playbook of your own.
EXECUTIVE SUITE
MIXING BUSINESS
WITH PLEASURE
XO O
O XX X
GROWING UP ON STATEN ISLAND, New
York, Shawuan Johnson, 39, had always
heard the clarion call of style. “It sounds
cliché, but I loved fashion as a child,” says
Johnson. “I was one of those kids who
laid out my clothes before school. And I
was into fashion magazines.”
These days, as she jets off to shop in
Europe at least five times a year, or fingers swatches of fabrics from her design
team, life has come full circle for Johnson.
As the senior vice-president and general
mer c h a nd i se m a n a ger of women’s
apparel & accessories at Tommy Hilfiger
North America, she is likely one of the
highest-ranking Black women in corporate fashion.
Each day at the $6 billion American
br a nd , Joh n s on ’s t e a m — a c r o s s functional group that includes design,
production, planning, visual and marketing—manages inventory and develops strategies that maximize profits.
She is equally a left- and right-brained
8 4 E S S E N C E | A P R I L
2014
thinker, having blended her sartorial
strength with her business acumen.
“My ultimate plan was to be in a
career that I was passionate about and
that I was happy doing. I loved fashion,
but I was also intrigued by business.
When I realized there was a career that
combined both areas, I was hooked.”
Getting there was a winding journey, but one led by her inner compass.
When deciding upon job prospects during her final days at University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, Johnson followed the road less traveled, eschewing
grad school and traditional jobs for
finance majors. “Something inside me
knew that investment banking was not
my calling,” she remembers. “Yeah, I
would make a ton of money, but I wasn’t
excited. Fashion is a business. I knew
I could be good at that if I was able to
get myself in the right door.”
During her junior year in college, an
internship at the Gap opened that door.
BRAG, the Black Retail Action Group,
which prepares students of color for
executive leadership in the retail and
fashion industries, offered the opportunity. “My advice, especially to young
people in fashion, is to get an internship,”
stresses Johnson. “But understand what
it is you’re going to be doing. When I
look for people to bring onto my team,
I want to ensure that they have a true
affinity for the business and not just the
glamorous side. Ask questions, be humble and be willing to do what it takes.
You’re not going to be doing that forever.”
Of course you have to follow before
you can lead. But after nine years of
running a multimillion-dollar division
at the C-suite level, Johnson has a few
caveats to share.
“I set high and clear expectations,
and foster an environment where there
is a culture of ownership,” she says. “The
team should understand the goals, but
I also want a creative culture that fosters
visit
ESSENCE .com
STILLS , COU RTESY OF MAN U FACTU RERS
Shawuan Johnson, SVP and GMM of women’s apparel
& accessories at Tommy Hilfiger North America, strutted to the top of the fashion industry by merging her
style sense with business smarts
new ideas and how to accomplish them.”
Another one of her mantras: “You can’t
be paralyzed by the fear of failure.” “We
go into a fashion season with a plan, but
if we expect something to do well and it
does not, we have to react,” she notes. “I
try to create an environment where the
team is not afraid to make mistakes,
myself included. And when you do, you
have to learn from them and ask, ‘How
can I make it better tomorrow? Next
month? Next season? Next year?’ ”
Throughout her career, Johnson has
leaped into a series of increasingly more
challenging roles, working for retailers
ranging from The Limited to Esprit, and
in addition to her number one rule of
putting in the work, she says you have to
move out of your comfort zone to rise:
“When I was 24, one of the first jobs I took
was in Columbus. I’m a born and bred
New Yorker and always thought I would
live in New York. But one of the GMMs
from my company at the time wanted me
to join her in Ohio. It was a risk and it paid
off.” Johnson was later tasked with moving again—this time for three months to
Germany, where she had to build and hire
an entire staff from scratch. “It was a big
job and I was scared,” Johnson says of the
gig, which was her introduction to working with an international team. “I realized, though, that you kind of have to be
scared or you’re not growing.”
To combat fear, Johnson arms herself
with positive self-talk (“That’s an onlychild syndrome,” she says with a laugh)
and remembers the wise words of her
mother: What you think about, you bring
about. “When I have doubts—and I think
everyone has them—you just have to get
back to, You’re really good. You’re really
smart. Obviously you have this position
because you deserve it. You worked hard for
it.” Being industrious is something that
this working mom, who lives in Brooklyn
with her longtime boyfriend and their
5-year-old daughter, says is the cornerstone of any career: “Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work. I look
to build a team of confident, hardworking
people. And their confidence is based on
their actions and accomplishments, meaning they have to walk the walk. Yes, they
need to be smart, but being hardworking
is equally if not more ­important.”
—Angela Bronner Helm w
Shawuan Johnson
says hard work is
the cornerstone
of her successful
career in fashion.
SHAWUAN’S FAVORITE THINGS
WATCH
Hermès. “I got it more
than ten years ago
with one of my first
bonuses. I update the
band every few years
so it feels new.”
FRAGRANCE
TokyoMilk Tainted
Love No. 62 Parfum.
“It’s yummy.”
WORKOUT
Zumba. “I used to be
a dancer, so it gets
me back to my roots.”
HOTEL
Rockhouse in Negril,
Jamaica. “It’s one of
the best experiences
I’ve ever had.”
STATEMENT PIECE
Leather Tommy
trench from fall 2012.
“I love the unique
color and it keeps me
warm. It’s a bit of
practical luxury.”
COUNTRY
Morocco. “I felt completely transported to
a different place and
time. It’s magical.”
DESIGNERS
“Tom Ford for his sexy.
Stella McCartney for her
cool factor. Alexander
McQueen’s vision.”
BAG
A small, vintage, black
quilted Chanel. “One
day my daughter will be
sneaking into my closet
to carry it.”
WINE
Antigal Uno Malbec.
“It’s delicious and
it won’t break
the bank.”
A P R I L 2 0 1 4 | E S S E N C E 8 5

Similar documents