In case you missed the memo, Black female executives are on fire right now—they’re on top, breaking glass ceilings on our social timelines left and right and letting their empowering stories blaze inspiring new trails. If you’re in need of another dose of this empowering goodness today, please say hello to Pinterest’s newly tapped Global Head of Consumer + Brand Marketing, Celestine Maddy—a fierce communicator, enterprising thinker and proud free spirit, who boldly chose the road-less-traveled for her climb to the top, and whose story will instantly inspire you.
“Black women, we have to bring our power to light,” Maddy tells ESSENCE. “We have to bring everything we want into the world because nobody else is gonna help us. We’re at the bottom, so we have to manifest.”
Manifestation, betting on herself and decades of hard work have paid off for her, bigtime.
At 18, Maddy skipped college and got right to work. She launched her creative career juggling writing and editing gigs at Vice and High Times with restaurant work. Then she eventually landed her first full-time advertising job at New York City advertising and design agency StrawberryFrog, where she dug right into crafting a unique creative career.
Over the last 15 years, Maddy, 42, has had her foot planted on the gas pedal, creating back-to-back opportunities for herself while leaving her bold mark everywhere from the newsroom to the boardroom. She worked at Paper Magazine, launched Agency Spy, which is now owned by Adweek and went on to become the Head of Marketing & Communication at Reddit, The Wing and Foursquare. Not to mention, somewhere in between all of these boss moves she carved out time to start a family, become an author and get to know herself well enough to ensure she was living and working with purpose too.
It was no surprise that Pinterest called on Maddy when they decided it was time to reinvigorate the brand’s marketing campaign, build out their creator ecosystem and emphasize their commitment to creation and belongingness for its users. The new campaign, which officially launched today, is called: “You just might surprise yourself!” It aims to spotlight the role Pinterest plays in people’s lives by tapping into the current global spirit of inclusion, confidence and taking action in their own lives.
Maddy tells us she’s beyond excited to reintroduce the brand, one already synonymous with inspiration, to the world in new ways and encourage more people to take advantage of the vast options and tools available for creators and Pinners alike. She’s also eager to get the message out about the opportunities for creators of color to amplify their stories and businesses in new ways through the platform.
“We, as a culture, bring so much life and enthusiasm and ideas to whatever we do, whatever platform we land on,” says Maddy. “I would love to see more Black women putting their creations into this space. We need a safe place.”
What instantly sold Maddy on the job was Pinterest’s deep commitment to inclusivity and their focus on users being able to find others who look and think like them when they use the platform—a sensitive spot for Black women, like Maddy, who haven’t always felt fully visible and included when seeking like-minded content on other social platforms.
“[Their goal is to] change how, when I search, what I find would look like me, and I’ve never had a tech company that’s done it, and I’ve worked at a lot of tech companies,” Maddy shares. “[They’re] thinking about how women want to be found inside of Pinterest and that was really the selling point to me, that there is a vision to reset this product for everybody.” She officially joined the team in November 2020.
Maddy has proudly pulled up her seat at this new table and she’s brought a deeply rooted confidence along with her, one that keeps her grounded in who she is because she never forget what her strength was born from. “I come from a line of powerful women who have fought for everything and never quit,” shares Maddy. “I am equipped from my ancestors, and I know that if I stumble, they’ll be there. I believe that and that is my spiritual wisdom.”
Many of us have seen the term “imposter syndrome” thrown round more often in the headlines lately, as the pandemic has forced so many people to doubt their gifts and big career moves during such an uncertain time. Maddy has fully stepped into her power, but she’s the first to tell you that it’s okay and normal to doubt yourself for a moment as long as you remember that ultimately, you’ve got this and you’ve got support. “Even in an executive role, sometimes I get unsure before a meeting or before something happens, and that’s okay,” Maddy admits. “Remember that everybody feels like a fraud at some point, or see the delta in where you are and where you need to be professionally. It’s okay not to be fully equipped in the moment because I have learned that I’m equipped to learn anything, grow into anything and be anything that I need to be, and I don’t need to be perfect in that moment. That’s sort of the way that I’ve gotten by and I think you have to learn to be comfortable with taking risks.”
But, if you still find yourself needing a boost to propel you forward in your personal life or career, take another cue from Maddy’s book—be your own best cheerleader! “I hype myself up,” she tells us. “Sometimes I remember that I’m Megan The stallion. I remember that I am my grandmother and I remember that I am me. If I need to check in with myself, I do. You’ve got to remember who you are and celebrate your wins.”
Not only should you celebrate your success, but Maddy insists you take your sisters with you, as she recalls having lots of helping hands along the way.
“I’m very lucky to have some amazing senior Black women, really coach me and get me up off the ground,” says Maddy. “And that’s why I think it’s important that we start talking about what it means to be in these roles, and how we can help each other.”
Now, like Maddy, go forth, write your own story and remember where you’ve been, where you’re going and who you’re taking with you.