LISTEN to Richelle Parham’s segment after Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche’s episode of ESSENCE Podcast Network’s Unbossed Podcast here:
What do you do when you’ve successfully built your legacy in one arena? Do you stay put, reveling in your success? Or do you walk away to realize (or conjure up) a new dream?
Richelle Parham, Managing Director of WestRiver Group—a venture capital firm—is well-known for her extensive experience and legacy as a marketing guru. In high school, while others her age were trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives, Parham knew marketing was her future.
“I always wanted to be a marketer. In high school, I knew that what I saw on TV and what I saw in magazines, I knew that that’s what I wanted to do. At the time I didn’t quite know that was marketing, but I knew that’s what I wanted,” Parham told UnBossed host, Marquita Harris.
Parham strategically strung together a legacy in marketing spanning over 15 years with her last post being Chief Marketing Officer at eBay. When she left eBay in 2015, she knew there was something deeper for her to do; she wanted to be of service to companies and CEOs. And Parham says her influential career and desire to be of service is due, in large part to the people who’ve advocated for her.
“Mentors speak with you, sponsors speak about you. And for the majority of my career, I had sponsors. I had people who advocated for me, who saw my work, saw my work ethic and helped me to move forward in my career. And I was blessed with that because often women don’t have sponsors.”
Parham, who is now also the Executive Chairman of SHYN, a Black-owned direct-to-consumer oral care company, recalls a conversation that left a lasting impression on how she wanted to show up in her career and life. A conversation that deepened her understanding of what it means to build a proud legacy.
“When I got to eBay… my first week I was talking to other executives. And in one of these meetings one of the executives, a woman, sat down in front of me, looked me in my face and she said, “So our last CMO was here for seven weeks. How long are you going to be here?” And I realized that’s that CMO’s legacy. Their legacy is seven weeks. And from that moment on, I realized the importance of building your legacy every day.”
Her advice for those experiencing major changes in their career? You don’t have to have all the answers.
“Frankly, a lot of my rise came later. And I had to be brave enough to step out there and be willing to take a new step in my career and it’s paid off. It’s scary, absolutely, but it usually works out. You just have to figure out what’s the right way. And often what I tell people is you don’t have to know the path. You just have to have an idea of where you’re trying to get to.”