“I didn’t always know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become.” This is one of my favourite quotes by fashion mogul Diane von Furstenberg off her 2014 memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be. A crucial part of my growth journey has been forgiving myself for not always having clarity on what I wanted to do. Part of that self-forgiveness came with the understanding that perhaps, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew where I wanted to end up and I certainly have always known the woman I wanted to become. This heightened awareness of my future self is what has always been my motivator in acknowledging when my current status is not taking me towards that woman.
While I may be finally comfortable with where I am at the moment, and believe my position and all the steps I am taking are bringing me closer to the woman of my dreams, there are some super women that have the most interesting and seemingly fun jobs that I am slightly envious of. Below I profile some #GirlBosses that are thriving in their careers and remind me of that woman.
- Bozoma Saint John – Chief Brand Officer: Uber
1977 born Bozoma Saint John is the Chief Brand Officer at Uber. Until June 2017, she was the Marketing Director at Apple Music after joining the company in its acquisition of Beats Music. Her previous role as a marketing executive at Apple Music is a position she held for three years after transitioning from her role as the head of the Music and Entertainment Marketing Group at Pepsi-Cola North America where she helped to secure multi-million dollar endorsement deals with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Eminem. She was also behind getting Beyoncé to do the half-time performance at Super Bowl XLVII.
Her role at Apple saw her in charge of crafting authentic messages that were impacting the culture and society. A good showcase of her work is the Ava Duvernay directed Apple Music commercial that aired during the Emmy’s with Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington, and Taraji P. Henson.
Alongside being named one of Billboard Magazine’s Top Women in Music, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, and AdWeek’s most exciting personalities in Advertising, in her new role at Uber, she has been tasked with turning Uber into a brand that people love as much as Apple.
- Stephanie Shepherd – COO of Kardashian West Brands
She’s the woman behind the most powerful reality TV brand. For the past four years, Stephanie Shepard has been Kim Kardashian West’s executive assistant and an insider among the world’s most famous family. Former dancer Steph met Kardashian West through former Pussycat Doll Robin Antin (a friendship I had completely forgotten about), after Robin asked if Shepherd would be interested in assisting her friend.
Initially, Steph’s role included looking after Kim’s whole schedule, doing her laundry, booking travel, putting North’s first stroller together, schlepping bags and suitcases, car bookings, pretty much running Kim’s life. Shepherd was recently promoted to COO of Kardashian West Brands, where she manages Kim’s projects that fall outside of “KUWTK,” including Kimoji, her collab with Kylie Cosmetics and her newly launch KKW Cosmetics brand. According to the Business Insider, “she’s essentially become an honorary Kardashian — but without all the pressures that come with being in the spotlight.” That’s a job I wouldn’t mind having!
- Vika Shipalana – Prestige Director: Pernod Ricard SA
One of the most notable names in luxury in SA, heading up the Prestige Team at Pernord Ricard SA, Vika Shipalana, a #QueenBoss I admire. In her role as the Prestige Director, she heads up the team responsible for targeting HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals) and engaging them through product education, visibility, and activations in the top establishments in SA as well as non-traditional channels. Before taking on her super fabulous-yet-demanding role, the stylish mother of two was the Marketing Manager for Grolsch, Peroni and Pilsner Urquell under South African Breweries. Vika currently oversees brands such as G.H.MUMM, Absolute Elynx and Perrier Jouët to mention a few, under the Prestige Channel.
“I head up the luxury division, which means that I look after high-end champagnes and spirits (whisky, cognac, gin and rum). My team consists of seven people and our job is to introduce those brands and products to high networks and ultra-high network individuals. We target the wealthiest individuals in South Africa and through various activities, we introduce them to our brands. Whether it’s a tasting, private exclusive dinner, a one-on-one engagement or a trip to France, we sell our brand through experience,” she recently shared with Destiny Magazine.
- Caitlin Donovan – Associate VP: Handbags and Accessories for Christie’s Auctions
Christie’s handbag specialist Caitlin Donovan has quite an enviable title. Donovan is responsible for building the accessories and handbags category for the biggest auction house in the world. “We’re a really small category, only three of us in the US. Primarily, as an auction specialist, my job is to meet with clients and to bring in property. So that means meeting with clients, assessing what they have, making sure it’s authentic, understanding what we would price it at for an auction.
We have a number of different sales platforms in our category, so it’s deciding whether that piece would go into a live auction or an online auction, go on our online handbag shop, be sold privately. Then on the backend, there’s obviously being that we’re a new category we’re still focusing on growing. Working on our sales plan, different markets to tap into, the marketing departments, e-comm, PR on a daily basis. [And] all jobs have an unpretty side — we do a lot of packing and unpacking at times.”
She also added, “It really is so much fun. I’m very lucky to be working with handbags and I adore working at Christie’s because I love being surrounded by all the other categories and specialists and constantly learning. But it’s one of those jobs that sound very glamorous on the outside, and often times I meet with clients and they ask if they can work for me or with me part-time.” Donovan’s category broke an auction record last year in Hong Kong. Their sale of a crocodile Birkin with 18-carat gold and diamond hardware broke the auction record of the most expensive bag ever sold at auction, going for around $223,000.
- Asanda Sizani – Fashion & Beauty Director: ELLE SA
Asanda has carved an inimitable name for herself in the South African fashion world. As a fashion creative, Sizani has worked for some of the largest fashion magazines and retailers in the country. She has held the position of fashion editor at Drum and ELLE magazines. She has also contributed to Grazia and Edgars Club and is a regular collaborator for Woolworths and WMag. Asanda kick started her career in fashion as a Fashion Editor for Drum Magazine. “I resigned at Drum in 2011 when Elle offered me the Fashion Editor position there. Print has always been my first love. As a young girl growing up in King William’s Town (a town in the Eastern Cape) magazines transported me to a different world and fueled my creativity. I used to pore over the pages of GQ and Vogue and dreamt in pictures,” she told GQ.
She has since been a judge for the Miss South Africa pageant and the Marie Claire Prix D’Excellence de la Beauté Awards. In addition to being crowned as the winner for the Media & Marketing at this year’s Standard Bank Rising Stars Awards, Asanda recently took up the role of Fashion & Beauty Director for ELLE SA, under Ndalo Media.
Sources: XoNecole, WWD, Elle, GQ, NY Post