No one becomes successful on their own, which is why the importance of network-building was at the center of Essence Festival’s final E-Suite program.
The discussion, which was moderated by Alechia Reese, the chief brand architect for 360 Gateway Brands, brought together Black women leaders including Mona Scott-Young, the executive producer for VH1’s “Love and Hip-Hop” franchise; Ford Motor Company’s head of brand strategy and growth audience marketing Raj Register; and Lizette Williams, the head of cultural engagement and experiences in U.S. marketing for McDonald’s.
“It’s only lonely at the top if you take no one with you,” Reese said.
The sentiment was one shared by the other women, who emphasized the importance of not only bringing along a support system of people who understand your vision, but to also find ways to connect with new people to help you expand it.
“If somebody comes into my circle, I expect you to be a beast,” Scott-Young said. “… And now I’ve expanded my resources and my network. This should be a springboard.”
Register makes it happen by not trying to “be the smartest person in the room.” Instead, she looks for people who can challenge her ideas in a respectful way, which is something that should come naturally to Black women.
“Black people in general, we are trendsetters,” she said. “If we don’t allow ourselves to think outside the norm, then the world will be a very vanilla place.”