In honor of Black History Month in North America, our team at Oracle Advertising and CX would like to honor Black leaders in marketing, advertising, CX, and tech who have transformed these industries for the better.
Previously on this blog, we covered the Adweek Keynote address of Celika Caldwell, GVP of Customer Experience Management at Oracle Advertising and CX. Caldwell, who has spent more than a decade advocating for a customer-focused approach in her roles at FedEx, AARP, and here at Oracle.
Now, let’s take a moment to recognize the incredible drive, talent, and creativity that Black professionals are bringing to our field.
Innovative Black creators have laid the groundwork for many of the technological advancements we take for granted.
Mark Dean, an inventor and engineer, played an integral role in making PCs what they are today. He joined IBM soon after graduating from the University of Tennessee in 1979. There, he and fellow inventor Dennis Moeller developed the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) system, which made it possible to simply plug other devices into a PC.
That’s something we take for granted, but it was a game-changing development in 1984. Mark also contributed directly to the development of the color PC monitor, and generally made PCs more widely accessible.
Today, we also have incredible minds at work creating new technologies, like Ime Archibong, Head of New Product Implementation at Facebook. Ime has been with Facebook since 2010, and has long provided input on new product development at the company. In his current role, he oversees the development of new apps and features.
He’s also an outspoken advocate for greater racial equity in tech, both in terms of who’s hired and the communities they seek to serve. In a 2021 interview with Roy Wood. Jr., Ime described his efforts to make the company aware of the opportunities they have for “working with communities…that have been historically left behind by the industry and left behind by the tools and technology that have been built.”
Tamar Huggins Grant has long been heralded for her contributions in the Canadian tech industry. In 2015, she received the Henry Jerome Award for merit after setting up the Driven Accelerator Group to mentor tech entrepreneurs of color and “diversify the talent pool in the digital market in Toronto.”
Since founding that program in 2012, Tamar has continued to champion change in the industry, engaging with marginalized communities who may not have seen tech entrepreneurship as an option.
“[At the Driven Accelerator Program], we realized as an organization that in order to create the impact, we had to look at pivoting from entrepreneurs to students,” said Tamar in an interview with Style Canada. “If students didn’t see themselves as tech founders, entrepreneurs, or creators of any kind, there would be no need for an accelerator that focused on Black tech founders or female tech founders.”
She founded Tech Spark, a first-of-its-kind K–12 tech and design school intended to ignite a passion for technology and other STEM subjects among girls and other children of color, including Indigenous youth. This initial spark will inspire these students to make meaningful change in their communities.
“At the end of the day, it’s not just about consuming technology, but being able to create it,” says Tamar. “Black children and children of color are overrepresented on the consumption side of technology and underrepresented on the side of creating technology.”
“How do we have an ability to understand our consumer or our audience without having them represented in the room. It’s just nonsensical. It doesn’t make any sense!” said Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix, in a video feature for Complex.
Topping the list of Forbes’ most influential marketing executives in 2021, Bozoma has built an incredible career. Before joining Netflix, she held leadership roles at Endeavour, Uber, and Apple Music. She also led entertainment and music marketing at PepsiCo, where she oversaw Beyonce’s iconic Super Bowl half-time performance in 2013.
“I check a lot of boxes for ‘othered,’ ok? But there are some that I don’t check,” she told Complex, expanding on the importance of diverse perspectives in marketing. “I need people in the room who represent those parts, and who feel comfortable and safe in bringing those parts into the workplace… that’s the way that we’re going to reflect the world. That’s how we’re going to do our best work.”
At Oracle, our colleagues have also named some of the most inspirational figures in their field.
Da’Les Hill, social media marketing manager, shared her admiration for Adrienne Lofton, Global Vice President, Consumer Brand Marketing at Google and a member of the Board of Directors for Alaska Airlines.
“Adrienne is a very smart and poised marketer within the technology space,” says Da’Les. “She exemplifies HBCUs' greatness and why they matter to the Black community as she attended Howard University. Lastly, as successful as she is, she takes the time to cater to upcoming marketers with tools and knowledge to be successful in the space.”
Scott dropped out of high school because he couldn’t see a path forward for himself. He joined the US Navy, where he served for four years and distinguished himself as an aircraft technician.
From there, he decided to apply for a software development bootcamp, and the rest is history. He has since founded two startups and worked as a senior software engineer at Netflix.
“You can choose to follow a path that the people before you have created to get to where you want… but for me, it's just a no-no” says Scott in an interview with Bukola Ayele, a software engineer and prolific content creator. “I'm not going to leave my life up to someone else's hands. I'm always going to bet on myself."
As Black History Month draws to a close, it’s important to remember why we take this time to recognize the incredible achievements of black leaders in our industry.
“At Oracle, Black history is part of our American history” - Traci Wade, Vice President, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion