Meet up with the Advertising and marketing Exec Who’s Been Making Her Mark at Apple, Uber and Netflix

In Personalized Board of Directors, major organization leaders speak about the persons they switch to for information, and how all those individuals have shaped their viewpoint and aided them thrive. Preceding installments from the sequence are listed here.

In summer months 2020,

Bozoma Saint John

landed a aspiration work as main marketing and advertising officer of

Netflix Inc.

The streaming giant spends far more than $2 billion a calendar year on advertising and marketing. Amusement “is my sweet place,” she claims.

The corporation, based mostly in Los Gatos, Calif., is the 10th employer and sixth industry for the duration of Ms. Saint John’s extended job. Bias generally prompted prior position adjustments, she claims.

“I hit a wall or a ceiling, and I could not break by means of,’’ she continues. “As a Black lady, I have experienced to function significantly tougher to thrive.’’

The self-proclaimed “badass” is now Netflix’s most senior Black govt.

Supportive mentors solidified Ms. Saint John’s robust dedication to shift up by going on. “My own board associates have performed the job of helping me to belief my instincts,’’ she claims.

Bio Bits

  • Age: 44
  • Training: Bachelor’s degree in English and African-American Scientific studies from Wesleyan University
  • Household: Daughter Lael, age 12
  • Mystery expertise: Expert seamstress who has manufactured every thing from skirts to curtains
  • Management mantra: Deliver your entire self to perform, even if it is in glitter or burlap
  • Fun point: Opposite to well known perception, I’m not all frills on almost everything. My most loved ice product is straight vanilla
  • Height in heels: Four-inch stilettos are my go-to…which will make me 6’3”
  • Superpower you want you had: Teleportation

The 44-calendar year-previous govt, who usually goes by her nickname “Boz,” was born months just before her father completed his doctorate in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan College in Middletown, Conn. Her dad and mom, then Ghanaian citizens, returned to Ghana all through her infancy.

Ms. Saint John moved to six distinct locales before she turned 13. As a substantial-school student in Colorado Springs, Colo., she interned with an obstetrician and thought of getting a doctor.

She also cherished pop lifestyle, but figured her passion was “not something to be significant about.” Ms. Saint John reconsidered her health-related-profession aim right after remaining encouraged by an African-American experiments class all through her freshman 12 months at Wesleyan.

Geared up with a diploma in English and African-American research, the 1999 graduate obtained employed as an administrative assistant at Spike DDB, a New York advertisement company headed by movie director Spike Lee. She was shocked when he recognized her recommendation that increasing pop star Beyoncé Knowles should look in a business for

PepsiCo Inc.

“If he experienced picked another person else, I probably would not be sitting below now,” she observes. Ms. Saint John recognized her tips could count, and “the pecking buy does not issue.” She eventually state-of-the-art to senior account govt at the company.

In 2005, she joined a Pepsi unit as assistant model manager in multicultural marketing and advertising. While a promoting government there many years later on, she helped arrange Beyoncé’s 2013 Tremendous Bowl 50 percent-time appearance and an elaborate introductory Pepsi business.

Ms. Saint John captivated even higher awareness the moment she became

Apple Inc.’s

head of global customer advertising for Apple Audio and iTunes.

She took an unconventional approach in describing Apple’s redesigned streaming tunes company in the course of its 2016 developers’ conference. “It was definitely frightening,’’ she recollects. “My design and style was so unique.”

Ms. Saint John urged the predominantly white male audience to sing “Rapper’s Delight” as she swayed to the hip-hop strike. “Some of you men are not rapping to the beat,” she chided gentlemen in the audience.

Her up coming stint—as chief brand name officer for

Uber Systems Inc.

—didn’t very last extensive. Employed in June 2017, Ms. Saint John give up right after a calendar year.

She and Uber Main Govt

Dara Khosrowshahi

disagreed above irrespective of whether improved customer service must be the ride-hailing giant’s maximum precedence, she suggests. “We just did not align.’’ An Uber spokesman declined to remark about her temporary tenure.

She following held the top marketing and advertising spot at

Endeavor Team Holdings Inc.,

an leisure company regarded for symbolizing Hollywood’s biggest skills.

Subsequently “joining Netflix was my greatest marketing and advertising problem ever,’’ suggests Ms. Saint John, who studies to co-CEO

Ted Sarandos.

“I am marketing and advertising to so many wholly distinctive specific titles and messages.”

More complicating issues, the Netflix newcomer underwent unexpected emergency surgical procedure for appendicitis all through her initially 7 days. She resumed get the job done from her mattress days later on.

Her most valued advisers incorporate:

Brett O’Brien

Normal manager of Gatorade at PepsiCo Inc.

The Pepsi govt recruited Ms. Saint John for the reason that he experienced been a person of her Spike DDB clients. He in the beginning supervised her at the major food items-and-beverage maker.

She doubted that she would do well, however. Unlike several Pepsi peers, the newbie assistant brand supervisor lacked an M.B.A. degree.

Mr. O’Brien reassured her that “my background did not make a difference. I could do anything,’’ Ms. Saint John continues. His self confidence in her abilities influenced at minimum a single of her further industry switches.

He claims he also urged his protégée to “keep executing you.” A greater-than-daily life personal, “Boz lets her passion shine by means of,’’ Mr. O’Brien points out. She did not “need to dampen that passion to match any perceived company norms.”

Arianna Huffington

Founder and CEO of Prosper World

The executives fulfilled in 2016 at a client-electronics trade display. Ms. Huffington, an Uber board member, at some point proposed that Ms. Saint John take into consideration leaving Apple for Uber.

“She wanted to be somewhere that would permit her comprehensive individuality shine,’’ Ms. Huffington says. And “Uber required her distinctive presents.”

The entrepreneur related Ms. Saint John with then-Uber CEO

Travis Kalanick

and supported her candidacy. He interviewed her at Ms. Huffington’s Los Angeles residence.

Mr. Kalanick resigned shortly after Ms. Saint John arrived, subsequent months of scandal and setbacks at Uber.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Author, speaker and CEO of Awe Luv Media

Ms. Saint John sought an introduction to Mrs. Jones in 2014 since she was impressed by her commentary about pop lifestyle on her web site. The pair have been quickly good friends ever due to the fact.

“Luvvie has normally inspired me to continue on creating trouble,’’ Ms. Saint John claims. Her counsel proved particularly handy when the govt remaining Uber feeling discouraged.

“Am I just on the lookout for difficulty everywhere you go I go?” Ms. Saint John remembers asking herself. “I do not normally want to be the a single who disrupts just mainly because I walk in the door. It’s exhausting,” she goes on. “Sometimes, I just want to just healthy in.”

Ms. Saint John should really preserve producing the most effective hassle and transformative transform due to the fact she “cannot match in, even if she attempts.’’ Mrs. Jones contends. “She is a tall, darkish-skinned, Black female who usually exists in rooms that were not developed for somebody like her.”

The author’s most current e book, “Professional Troublemaker,’’ explores how to deal with and normalize dread. She thinks her ideal advice to Ms. Saint John was that she really should quash fears and accept recurring requests for a TED Converse. We improve by demanding ourselves to do stuff we’re afraid of, Mrs. Jones explained to her.

Ms. Saint John finally delivered her TED Talk in August 2021. The emphasis of her chat was on using her intuition each day.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Actor, producer and author

The pair grew to become acquainted about a 10 years in the past when the popular Indian actor appeared on “X Variable,” a televised talent display that Pepsi sponsored.

In 2018, Ms. Saint John attended Ms. Chopra’s marriage ceremony in India, in which she married musician Nick Jonas. Currently, the widowed Netflix govt still struggles to pursue her friend’s recommendation that she open up her coronary heart and obtain appreciate all over again.

Ms. Saint John’s partner, Peter Saint John, died in 2013. Their daughter Lael was then 4.

“I do know how to get what I want out of my profession. I don’t know how to do that in like,” Ms. Saint John admits. “It’s really unpleasant and scary.”

Generate to Joann S. Lublin at [email protected]

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