Meet up with the Internet marketing Exec Who’s Been Making Her Mark at Apple, Uber and Netflix

In Personal Board of Administrators, top rated small business leaders speak about the people they turn to for information, and how those folks have formed their perspective and served them thrive. Preceding installments from the collection are in this article.

In summertime 2020,

Bozoma Saint John

landed a aspiration task as chief promoting officer of

Netflix Inc.

The streaming large spends a lot more than $2 billion a calendar year on advertising. Enjoyment “is my sweet location,” she states.

The enterprise, based in Los Gatos, Calif., is the 10th employer and sixth field all through Ms. Saint John’s extended career. Bias usually prompted prior position improvements, she claims.

“I strike a wall or a ceiling, and I could not break via,’’ she proceeds. “As a Black woman, I have experienced to function much tougher to triumph.’’

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

Supportive mentors solidified Ms. Saint John’s sturdy determination to transfer up by shifting on. “My particular board customers have performed the purpose of supporting me to trust my instincts,’’ she claims.

Bio Bits

  • Age: 44
  • Instruction: Bachelor’s diploma in English and African-American Research from Wesleyan College
  • Loved ones: Daughter Lael, age 12
  • Top secret expertise: Qualified seamstress who has made all the things from skirts to curtains
  • Management mantra: Provide your full self to operate, even if it is in glitter or burlap
  • Pleasurable actuality: Contrary to preferred belief, I’m not all frills on all the things. My beloved ice product is straight vanilla
  • Top in heels: 4-inch stilettos are my go-to…which would make me 6’3”
  • Superpower you want you had: Teleportation

The 44-year-aged govt, who usually goes by her nickname “Boz,” was born months in advance of her father concluded his doctorate in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan College in Middletown, Conn. Her mother and father, then Ghanaian citizens, returned to Ghana throughout her infancy.

Ms. Saint John moved to six distinct locales in advance of she turned 13. As a significant-college pupil in Colorado Springs, Colo., she interned with an obstetrician and viewed as getting to be a doctor.

She also beloved pop tradition, but figured her hobby was “not something to be major about.” Ms. Saint John reconsidered her medical-career aim soon after staying impressed by an African-American scientific tests class throughout her freshman year at Wesleyan.

Outfitted with a diploma in English and African-American experiments, the 1999 graduate bought hired as an administrative assistant at Spike DDB, a New York ad agency headed by movie director Spike Lee. She was stunned when he approved her suggestion that mounting pop star Beyoncé Knowles should look in a commercial for

PepsiCo Inc.

“If he experienced picked somebody else, I likely would not be sitting down here now,” she observes. Ms. Saint John recognized her ideas could rely, and “the pecking purchase doesn’t matter.” She sooner or later highly developed to senior account government at the agency.

In 2005, she joined a Pepsi device as assistant manufacturer manager in multicultural advertising and marketing. While a internet marketing govt there yrs afterwards, she aided organize Beyoncé’s 2013 Tremendous Bowl 50 %-time look and an elaborate introductory Pepsi commercial.

Ms. Saint John captivated even higher focus after she grew to become

Apple Inc.’s

head of world wide shopper internet marketing for Apple Audio and iTunes.

She took an unusual approach in describing Apple’s redesigned streaming music company for the duration of its 2016 developers’ meeting. “It was really frightening,’’ she remembers. “My design 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 guys are not rapping to the beat,” she chided men in the audience.

Her future stint—as main brand officer for

Uber Technologies Inc.

—didn’t very last extended. Employed in June 2017, Ms. Saint John give up following a year.

She and Uber Main Executive

Dara Khosrowshahi

disagreed in excess of whether enhanced shopper support really should be the journey-hailing giant’s maximum precedence, she says. “We just didn’t align.’’ An Uber spokesman declined to remark about her transient tenure.

She up coming held the prime internet marketing spot at

Endeavor Group Holdings Inc.,

an leisure company known for symbolizing Hollywood’s biggest abilities.

Subsequently “joining Netflix was my biggest advertising obstacle ever,’’ states Ms. Saint John, who experiences to co-CEO

Ted Sarandos.

“I am internet marketing to so several wholly unique unique titles and messages.”

Additional complicating issues, the Netflix newcomer underwent crisis surgical treatment for appendicitis through her first week. She resumed function from her bed days later on.

Her most valued advisers include:

Brett O’Brien

Common supervisor of Gatorade at PepsiCo Inc.

The Pepsi govt recruited Ms. Saint John because he experienced been a single of her Spike DDB shoppers. He initially supervised her at the huge food stuff-and-beverage maker.

She doubted that she would be successful, however. Compared with quite a few Pepsi peers, the newbie assistant manufacturer supervisor lacked an M.B.A. degree.

Mr. O’Brien reassured her that “my background didn’t make a difference. I could do just about anything,’’ Ms. Saint John continues. His self-confidence in her skills encouraged at the very least 1 of her additional business switches.

He states he also urged his protégée to “keep doing you.” A larger-than-existence person, “Boz lets her passion glow through,’’ Mr. O’Brien factors out. She did not “need to dampen that enthusiasm to suit any perceived company norms.”

Arianna Huffington

Founder and CEO of Thrive World-wide

The executives satisfied in 2016 at a buyer-electronics trade show. Ms. Huffington, an Uber board member, eventually proposed that Ms. Saint John contemplate leaving Apple for Uber.

“She needed to be someplace that would let her entire identity shine,’’ Ms. Huffington claims. And “Uber needed her special items.”

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

Travis Kalanick

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

Mr. Kalanick resigned soon just after Ms. Saint John arrived, pursuing months of scandal and setbacks at Uber.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Author, speaker and CEO of Awe Luv Media

Ms. Saint John sought an introduction to Mrs. Jones in 2014 because she was amazed by her commentary about pop lifestyle on her weblog. The pair have been quick good friends ever considering that.

“Luvvie has normally encouraged me to go on making problems,’’ Ms. Saint John claims. Her counsel proved specifically valuable when the government still left Uber emotion discouraged.

“Am I just on the lookout for difficulty everywhere I go?” Ms. Saint John remembers asking herself. “I don’t normally want to be the one who disrupts simply just for the reason that I wander in the door. It’s exhausting,” she goes on. “Sometimes, I just want to simply healthy in.”

Ms. Saint John should continue to keep generating the best difficulty and transformative adjust for the reason that she “cannot fit in, even if she attempts.’’ Mrs. Jones contends. “She is a tall, dark-skinned, Black lady who typically exists in rooms that were being not made for a person like her.”

The author’s latest reserve, “Professional Troublemaker,’’ explores how to tackle and normalize anxiety. She believes her ideal tips to Ms. Saint John was that she really should quash fears and settle for recurring requests for a TED Communicate. We develop by complicated ourselves to do stuff we’re fearful of, Mrs. Jones explained to her.

Ms. Saint John last but not least sent her TED Converse in August 2021. The concentration of her chat was on working with her intuition each and every day.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Actor, producer and creator

The pair grew to become acquainted about a decade back when the well-liked Indian actor appeared on “X Component,” a televised expertise 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 continue to struggles to pursue her friend’s recommendation that she open her coronary heart and uncover really like once again.

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

“I do know how to get what I want out of my profession. I really don’t know how to do that in love,” Ms. Saint John admits. “It’s really distressing and frightening.”

Produce to Joann S. Lublin at [email protected]

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