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Black History Month: From Professional Football to Oracle

"What has sustained me is my upbringing and the values learned." -Johnny Hill, Vice President, Software Development, Oracle

Johnny Hill is Vice President of Quality Engineering for Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud and on-premise suite of products. He is based out of Morrisville, North Carolina. Typically, Johnny is one to shun the spotlight and remain behind the scenes. But after some convincing, he agreed to tell us his story as part of our celebration of Black History Month here at Oracle.

Finding his way to Oracle

Johnny grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the second youngest of 10 children. Growing up, his parents stressed the value of pride in where he came from, respecting others, education, and hard work. Those values pushed Johnny in the classroom and athletics, preparing him to earn a scholarship to play football at Duke University, where he graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science.

“Immediately after graduation, I had a very short attempt at professional football as a free-agent signee of the Chicago Bears. I hung-on till the second to last cut before being released,” Johnny recalled. After getting over the shock of being cut for the first time, Johnny moved on from football to start his career as a data analyst.

“I've always viewed technology as a means to an end for decision making, which motivated me to obtain an MBA from Emory University.” After graduating, Johnny joined an oil and gas industry company as the lead for implementing the budgeting and reporting application using Essbase, a product owned by Hyperion at the time. He was subsequently hired away to join Hyperion as a Pre-Sales Consultant. Hyperion would eventually be acquired by Oracle in 2007, and Johnny joined Oracle as part of the acquisition. In 2010 Johnny took over the EPM QE organization as a senior director.

The importance of the lessons his parents taught him

As Johnny elaborated on the details of his life and career, he reflected on the lessons taught to him by his parents. “It's important to highlight their impact on me and my role here at Oracle today. You see, from the early years of school desegregation, attending Duke University, and throughout my career, I have always been in settings where I am the lone African American or one of just a few.”

Johnny recalled his high school guidance counselor trying to dissuade him from attending Duke, telling him his race and social-economic status were not the right profile for the university. “What has sustained me is my upbringing and the values learned. Whenever I would question myself if I belonged, I would call on my parents' lessons of being proud of where I come from. I realized from their teachings that showing respect to others yielded the same in return many times over. As my folks stressed, working hard always paid off, but in ways much more valuable than monetarily. In my case, the payoff for exhibiting these values came in two ways. I was able to uplift others and give them opportunities to achieve their goals. And, without fail, there was always a manager/mentor who did not look like me that saw enough potential to give me guidance and opportunities to grow. In my current role, I feel obligated to pay it forward by helping others with the aptitude and attitude to take on challenges and grow more. It's uplifting to see team members that have not yet realized their value take advantage of opportunities.”

A mentor and advocate

Johnny is passionate about his love of mentoring and sharing his experiences with young people. “I am active with a group at Duke University that connects student-athletes with alumni to mentor them on their transition to their professional lives.”

Johnny is also getting more involved at Oracle by becoming a diversity and inclusion advocate. “I have always felt strongly about the lack of diversity and inclusion throughout my journey. I started to realize maybe Oracle was taking this seriously back in the spring of 2020 when Steve Miranda [Executive Vice President, Applications Development] included presenters on his all-hands call to discuss the focus and activities around diversity and inclusion. As I was contemplating how best to engage, a conversation with Traci Wade [Oracle’s Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion] provided an on-ramp towards advocating for this important initiative at Oracle. Last but not least, I am passionate about my faith, family, Duke Football, and fishing.”

For Johnny celebrating Black History Month at Oracle this year is different from any in the past. “Over the last year, the issues and systemic racism our community still faces were on full display to the world. The global acknowledgment and support by people that don't look like us have been heartwarming. For once we feel seen and heard. I also perceive a commitment to action for diversity and inclusion from Oracle. This year's Black History Month brings greater appreciation and pride to be celebrating at Oracle. It's also the beginning of my engagement and obligation to contribute to the achievement of diversity and inclusion here at Oracle.”

At Oracle, Black History Month is a time when we come together to recognize how far the fight for equality has come, while always remembering how far we have yet to go.  Learn how Oracle is dedicated to enriching the careers of Black professionals.

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