What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I am SVP of Business Operations for Centric. I run day to day operations of the network, creating strategies and ensuring that our plans are well executed across functions and that our goals are met. I have always loved media & entertainment and started my career at age 15 when I got involved in producing a teen talk show on public access TV in Atlanta. I learned at a young age how to shoot, direct and host a show, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I majored in Broadcast Journalism at Howard University and did local TV news (on-air reporting, anchoring and producing) for a few years before earning an MBA at Harvard Business School and transitioning to the business side.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
I think the biggest challenge in most organizations is organizational strategy and people management, and my role is no exception. You can have the best business strategy in the world, but it will not work if you can’t successfully navigate relationships, resolve conflicts and bring out the best in each team member. Particularly in the entertainment industry, which attracts a lot of colorful personalities, you need a high degree of emotional intelligence to survive.
What is your proudest achievement?
Within the past four years, I have had the very rare opportunity and privilege to launch two new television networks targeting minority audiences. First, MTV Tr3s, a network targeting bilingual, bicultural US Latino youth, which launched in 2006 and is targeting one of the fastest growing demographics in the country -- and more recently Centric, a network targeting African-American and multicultural adults 25+, which launched a year ago. I am very proud of my involvement in creating these new content platforms for underserved multicultural audiences.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
Leader: President Barack Obama for having the courage and confidence to take the most difficult job in the world at one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history.
Thinker: Malcolm Gladwell, who has an amazing ability to break down very complex concepts into simple language that is accessible to many.
Doer: My mom, Charlotte Thomas, for teaching me through her daily example the values of the pursuit of excellence, a commitment to public service and the grace of compassion.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I believe in living life in chapters. Within 10 years, after hopefully building and running a successful media/entertainment business, I expect to be transitioning to my next chapter and pursuing new and different opportunities. You’ll have to ask me again in 10 years to find out what they are.
What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
Identify your personal strengths early on and hone them. If you focus on things you’re good at and passionate about, you will find success and maximize your impact. Ignore advice from teachers, parents, professors and others that doesn’t align with who you are and where you want to go. I can’t tell you how many people told me I should become a doctor or engineer or something else, but although I had the academic capacity to do so, I had no interest in those fields. So I just smiled and politely thanked them for their advice, then completely ignored it and pursued my dreams.