A few years ago, I spoke at a conference of the African American Student Union, Harvard University. During the question and answer session a young man asked: “Why would someone with a Harvard MBA choose to go into the janitorial business instead of a more sophisticated profession?”
After taking a deep breath I responded. “I admit there is nothing glamorous about my industry. You’re right, it is not an industry where you will find many MBAs, much less a Harvard MBA. But I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s better to own the mop than to push the mop.”
As youngsters, many future entrepreneurs have vivid dreams of being business owners. They envision their product or service and sometimes try their hands as entrepreneurs by creating childish items to sell.
Such was not the case for me. Growing up in a sleepy farming village in Virginia, I never dreamed of being an entrepreneur. Everyone I knew worked for someone else. My unexpected entry into the world of entrepreneurship happened years later, after graduate school.
Getting my MBA from Harvard Business School, I anticipated becoming a corporate executive. Little did I know that corporate America was not breathlessly awaiting the arrival of a young black woman with a Harvard MBA, even if she was the first black woman to get such a degree. Not one corporation recruited me, and I did not rush to seek them out. During the six years after graduation, I held four jobs. From time to time I wondered, “When will I get to use this MBA?”
One of the most celebrated and well-known WNBA players, Lisa Leslie has become the first former player to buy a team. Leslie joined chairperson Paula Madison and investors Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson in the team’s ownership group. This is just one of many firsts for Leslie’s career, as she was the first woman to dunk in a game, the first to reach 6,000 career points, and now she is the first WNBA player to invest in a professional basketball team.
After acquiring the team, Leslie spoke on her excitement for the future of the Sparks.
“After spending over a decade playing with the Sparks and then the last two season as both a fan and team broadcaster, I couldn’t be happier to rejoin the organization formally as a business partner and team ambassador,” Leslie told NBC4 news. “I look forward to being as asset to the Sparks in the areas of marketing and community outreach.”
Click here to watch some of the reactions from Sparks players of the big news!
Ann Fudge, who rose through the ranks at Kraft General Foods before taking the helm at Young and Rubicam, explains how she approaches hiring and layoffs.
Ann M. Fudge is the Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Young & Rubicam Brands, a global marketing communications network. Fudge received a BA degree from Simmons College and an MBA from Harvard University. She served as the chairman and chief executive officer of Young & Rubicam from 2003 to the end of 2006. Prior to joining Young & Rubicam, Ms. Fudge worked at General Mills and at General Foods, where she served in a number of positions including president of Kraft General Foods, Maxwell House Coffee Company and president of Kraft’s Beverages, Desserts and Post Divisions. Ms. Fudge is a director of Novartis AG, the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation and is on the board of overseers of Harvard University.
Rochelle Smith Trotter, the wife of Charlie Trotter–Chicago-based restaurateur and one of the nation’s top chefs–has tasted plenty of her own success. The former public relations exec is making big waves as owner of R’Culinaire, a culinary consulting firm that works with developers, hoteliers, and chefs throughout the world. Recently, she traveled to Abu Dhabi and Shanghai to help coordinate a food conference and investigate development options for television. The busy Trotter, who wed last year in the Maldives, takes time out to talk to UPTOWN about her fair city.