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ESSENCE MAGAZINE’s Game Changers: The Power List – 2014

If you have not already done so, please pick up your 2014 November issue of ESSENCE magazine.

I worked with the Editors of ESSENCE Magazine to create their 2014 Power List! What an experience that was – the added bonus was that Queen Latifah was serving as Guest Editor for this issue.


In creating this year’s Power List, I worked with the ESSENCE Editors to “identify the trendsetters, heavy hitters, rainmakers and moguls who are directing the action and setting new courses in their respective fields”. The ten women featured have global clout and hold the purse strings to USD $10 million or more at their companies. These women are industry captains who also made great strides in their careers/businesses by leveraging new tools, such as social media, to expand their empires.

Here’s what we can all learn from their successes.

1. Energy: Folorunso Alakija, 63, Executive Vice Chairman, Famfa Oil Limited; CEO, Digital Reality Print Limited; and Founder, The Rose of Sharon Foundation

POWER POINTS: One of the richest women in Africa, Alakija sits at the helm of her family business, Famfa Oil, one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil-producing companies. With a personal net worth of $2.7 billion, the mogul, wife and mother of four runs a diversified business portfolio that includes a world-class printing business, Digital Reality Print Limited, and an impressive global real estate portfolio that spans the U.S., South America, Europe and Africa. In addition, she directs philanthropic endeavors through The Rose of Sharon Foundation.

SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY: Alakija uses her social media accounts to mentor, empower and speak to the growing number of Black female entrepreneurs.

WISE WORDS: “It’s in us already to manage our homes, raise our families and run big businesses. Once you discover your true calling, then whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.” -Farai Gundan

Madam Folorunso Alakija: Philanthropist & Oil titan

2. Entertainment: Queen Latifah, 44, Co-CEO, Flavor Unit Entertainment, Actress, Singer and Style and Beauty Spokesperson

POWER POINTS: Ever since she burst onto the scene at the ripe age of 18, Queen Latifah has been a creative force in the entertainment indus- try. She’s gone from rapper to actress to producer to business titan, and her empire is composed of The Queen Latifah Show, which is gearing up for a second season this fall; an exclusive network deal with Centric and her company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, to bring new programming to Black women; and a deal with HBO to star in and executive-produce a Bessie Smith biopic for the premium cable network. A serial entrepreneur, she understood her power early on: “I was one of those girls who didn’t want a man dictating to me what I should or shouldn’t do,” Latifah explains. “I wanted to be my own boss.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY: Queen is all over the social scene with more than 12 million Facebook and Twitter followers combined. Earlier this year, The Queen Latifah Show even partnered with SocialRank for a new campaign to reward her Twitter followers with prizes.

WISE WORDS: “I’ve learned to balance. If I can’t stand up on my own two feet because I’m exhausted, how can I do anything?” –Tanisha A. Sykes

3. Advertising: Nadja Bellan-White, 46, CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Africa

WISE WORDS: “Map out what you want your story to be and follow that. But don’t be so rigid that you can’t be open to change.”

4. Nonprofit: Helene D. Gayle, M.D., 59, President and CEO of CARE USA

WISE WORDS: “Great breakthroughs don’t happen when you’re halfhearted. They require people who are emotionally and intellectually invested. Never forget what motivated you to get to where you are.”

5. Government: The Honorable Ladoris “Dot” Harris, 54, Director, The Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the United States Department of Energy (DOE)

WISE WORDS: “Excellence is not a goal; it’s a way of life. Make excellence your brand by establishing a clear core competency, strategically expanding your professional network and making sure you deliver for your clients.”

6. Finance: Tamika Langley Tremaglio, 44, Office Managing Principal and Market Leader for the Greater Washington Area, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, LLP

WISE WORDS: “Find something you are passionate about—something that brings out the best in you and allows you to be your authentic self.”

7. Science: Shirley Ann Jackson, PH.D., 68, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

WISE WORDS: “The formula is simple to articulate, but challenging to implement: Do for others, do not let others define you and always aim high.”

8. Automotive: Thasunda Duckett, 41, CEO, Chase Auto Finance

WISE WORDS: “Real success involves sacrifice, but being mindful of what you should never sacrifice—integrity, health, family and ability to treat others well—will bring you to the top.”

9. Retail: Kathy Thornton-Bia, 48, President, Bang & Olufsen’s North American division

WISE WORDS: “You can either surround yourself with people who tell you what you want to hear or those who tell you what you need to hear. Choose the latter.”

10. Technology: Angela Benton, 33, Founder and CEO of NewME Accelerator

WISE WORDS: “One of the hardest decisions you’ll face is to pinpoint exactly what you want out of life. Once you do that, invest your time in developing a plan—but don’t get stuck there—and growing your network. Don’t forget to also invest in yourself along the way.”

Thanks again ESSENCE Magazine!

The  article was originally published in the 2014 November issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newsstands nation-wide now.

farai – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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