Most successful individuals will agree that their climb up the ladder – whether corporate, creative, or otherwise – could not have happened without the support, guidance, or even a one-off conversation with someone who had gone before them. And that being intentional about how they pay it forward is the best kind of legacy to leave.

Mentorship is age-old and yet it is being explored in new ways and in fields you might not expect. Among Black women, mentorship offers not only a hand up but a connection to something larger than ourselves, a mission to serve one another and our communities.

No one understands or exemplifies this better than McDonald’s executives, Vicki Chancellor – President of McDonald’s Operator’s National Advertising Fund and an Atlanta McDonald’s Owner/Operator; and Elizabeth Campbell, McDonald’s Senior Director of Marketing and Cultural Engagement. The two corporate powerhouses offered not only their personal experience climbing the ladder in their industry but how the wise words of others have helped them in an interview with ESSENCE’s UnBossed Podcast host, Marquita Harris.

“Early in my career, it was the first time I ever had worked for an African American boss. He gave me the opportunity to go into management,” shares Chancellor who works with McDonald’s operators and partners to design programs like creative advertising commercials, and to drive business for revenue for operators.

“In this role that I’m doing, currently, there are two women that I need to mention. Because, I ran for this role, and I did not make it the first time. And I had actually given up. However, two women got together. They called me, they convinced me to run. And the rest is history.”

The effect mentorship has had on her desire and ability to be excellent no matter the role speaks for itself.

” [They] taught me how to be fearless. They said that, “You can do whatever you want to do. You have the skills to do this, and to make sure that you come to the table, and that you bring the skills that you have, and make sure that you find partners.”

Along with Chancellor, Elizabeth Campbell knows the importance of having the listening ear of those who’ve gone before. Her journey to her current role involved a lot of grit, innovation, and wise words.

“I feel as though I’ve had the opportunity to tap into some critical and key African Americans, who not only led McDonald’s, but who are now off doing fantastic things in the industry, that can still provide me with the guidance and mentorship, moving forward.”

Campbell also offered insight into her idea of legacy-building.

“I want to make sure that I’m leaving a legacy of having empathy for the consumer, and that we are truly guiding our work by what the consumer wants and needs. And that means, that we have to see every consumer. We can’t just see one or two, we’ve got to see the humanity in every single consumer that we’re attempting to serve.”

LISTEN to their full episode here:

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