What do you consider to be your most significant achievement, and how do you feel this achievement has impacted or influenced the broader black community?
Black Travel Summit is my most significant achievement. After every event, the feedback I receive from brands, entrepreneurs, business owners, etc., keeps me going. Comments like “This experience has changed my life,” and, “I’ve made connections here that I would have had trouble establishing on my own,” allow me to know the impact that this brand has on people.
Can you talk about some of the challenges you faced on your path to leadership, and how you overcame them?
As a startup, our challenges have been the same as other startups, and then some. As a Black business, we’ve had difficulty raising capital, convincing people of our worth and why an event like this is important, and finding a team that believes in the vision. Having our biggest sponsor, Hyatt, on our side has convinced other brands of our value, and once attended, the experience speaks for itself.
What advice do you have for black individuals aspiring to become leaders, especially in the face of adversity?
Keep going! If you have something you’re passionate about, let nothing deter you. You will find a person who believes wholeheartedly in what you’re doing and will help you to succeed. Whether financially or just by putting in a good word for you, it’s okay to receive help. Many of us haven’t, and so we either feel we don’t deserve it, or that we’re weak if we do ask for help. Just remember that many successful people have received help in one way or another.
How do you think the conversation around diversity and inclusion has evolved during your time as a leader?
Where it still exists, it has become more intentional and a part of many brands’ company ethos and not just a thing under HR. Many have wavered from the conversations, but those who have not, have become stronger and more impactful, not just for Black people, but for diverse people in general.
What steps do you believe are crucial in promoting diversity and inclusion in your industry?
- Be intentional – you won’t get far without a true desire to make an impact.
- Be unwavering – you WILL receive backlash for your commitment to DEI, it’s just a matter of when.
- Be humble – realize that you cannot do it alone and seek assistance with putting your best foot forward.
- Be committed – once you’ve achieved your personal/company goal, stick to it. Don’t be considered a follower of trends, but a hero for sticking to your DEI commitment.