Culture

Black Girl Brilliance Project: Valeisha Butterfield Jones Talks Career Evolution 

Valeisha Butterfield

Astrid Stawiarz/BET/Getty Images

Ashley Stoney
Apr, 04, 2018 4:04 PM UTC

Valeisha Butterfield Jones is the global head of women and Black community engagement at Google. Her powerhouse title reflects her passion-driven career trajectory that has included working for Obama for America, RUSH Communications and HBO.

As a woman with an impressive resume in entertainment and advocacy, she has a penchant for giving back through the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) that she co-founded eleven years ago. ESSENCE spoke with Valeisha to learn more about how she’s inspired and how she prioritizes being a role model for others through her work.

ESSENCE: Your background is so impressive and has run the gamut. What advice do you have for women hoping to pivot to different careers? What made your resume and skill set transferable no matter where you landed?

Valeisha: My biggest piece of advice is to constantly evolve and reinvent yourself. In a world of scale, measurability and impact, we have to be innovative and constantly upskill ourselves to remain relevant and marketable in the changing global and digital economy. You never want to be left without a seat when the music stops.

ESSENCE: What piece of advice do you have for mompreneurs and do you believe in work/life balance while raising a family?

Valeisha: Balance is a myth. The best advice I can give is to allow room for error, remove any mommy guilt and don’t be afraid to create a village of family, friends and professional support to help you along the way. Also, don’t be afraid to say “no.” When the work becomes too intense and you need to pour into your children more, give yourself the room because we won’t get this time with our children back. Finally, take care of yourself and be sure to put you and your health first.

ESSENCE: You have an incredible personal brand. How important is it for women to brand ourselves and what are some steps every woman should take to do so?

Valeisha: When my career started, I wanted to be behind the scenes. I was painfully shy and lacked confidence, so I hid behind my work ethic until a mentor told me the importance of building my personal brand. My firm belief is that our work will speak for us, so first set a rock-solid foundation built on your talent, skills and ability to deliver results. From there, the external opportunities will come, so be very strategic in what you accept and the narrative that you allow to be shaped around your journey.

ESSENCE: Who are five women you look up to?

Valeisha: Representative Jean Farmer Butterfield (my mom), First Lady Michelle Obama, Bonita Stewart (Google), Rosalind Hudnell (Intel) and Michelle Ebanks (ESSENCE).

ESSENCE: How do you hope to make Black history today?

Valeisha: Changing the face of tech to represent more women of color.

ESSENCE: Why do you exemplify black girl brilliance?

Valeisha: My authenticity and commitment. If it doesn’t align with my purpose and uplifting our community, I won’t do it.

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