A conversation with Badass Boz: leadership, creativity, and success for the future of business
Over the course of her awe-inspiring career, Bozoma Saint John has earned a formidable reputation as a trail blazing brand marketing executive and change agent. With nearly two decades of experience at some of the most iconic and innovative companies worldwide—from executing Beyoncé’s Emmy-winning Super Bowl performance while at Pepsi, to heading iTunes and Apple Music’s global consumer marketing efforts, to helping turn around Uber’s reputation as their first-ever Chief Brand Officer, to her current role as CMO of Endeavor-- Bozoma has always combined her pop culture savvy, analytical consumer insights, and ability to predict the zeitgeist, to reach new, unprecedented heights. In this powerfully honest, informative, and empowering conversation, Bozoma shares lessons from her life and career, shedding illuminating insight on leading through times of disruption, the importance of having your fingers on the cultural pulse, and resiliency in the face of unpredictability. Weaving in her personal experience as a daughter of two Ghanaian immigrants, a mother, and one of the few women and people of color at the C-Level of not one, not two, but three Fortune 500 companies, Bozoma leaves audiences ready to boldly take on the future.
Understanding pop culture: anticipate what’s coming (and avoid being tone deaf)
Named to Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People” and Fortune’s “Disruptors, Innovators & Stars,” Bozoma Saint John has used her pop culture intuition and uncanny ability to predict trends and understand what’s really happening beyond the world of C-Suite offices and analytical spreadsheets, to redefine the strategies of some of the most iconic and innovative companies worldwide. From helping Pepsi resuscitate a failing Mountain Dew through an unlikely partnership in the world of Harlem streetball, to stealing the show at Apple’s keynote World Wide Developers Conference with a presentation that had Buzzfeed call her the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event," to bringing in a series of A-List celebrity partnerships to help a PR-beleaguered Uber redefine its relationship between drivers and riders, Bozoma understands the power of pop culture as a bridge to connect with consumers, tap into overlooked and misunderstood markets, and drive unprecedented success. In this fascinating and informative talk, Bozoma reveals the future of marketing and brand development, sharing actionable lessons on how to understand the current cultural moment, and redefine relationships with consumers and clients. With infamous—and viral-- marketing “misses” paralyzing marketers who fear being the next ones to make a mistake, Bozoma highlights how and why pop culture is the key to tone deaf avoidance and spot-on marketing success.
Bring your full self to work: building an inclusive, diverse and authentic environment
A daughter of two Ghanaian immigrants, a mother, and one of the few women and people of color at the C-Level of not one, not two, but three Fortune 500 companies, Bozoma Saint John is a living embodiment of how diversity is an asset in all businesses and organizations. Having spent her early childhood in Nairobi Kenya, Washington DC, and Accra Ghana, Bozoma has consistently infused her work with her unique identity and experiences—tapping into new, overlooked markets, and implementing cutting-edge strategies with cultural savvy-- with tremendous success. In this empowering and illuminating talk, Bozoma shares the meaning of “bringing your full self to work” and how an emphasis on unity and authenticity can bring both personal and professional success. Drawing on her own remarkable life and career, and all its ups and downs, she reveals why and how to create an environment that supports all aspects of people’s lives. Powerfully candid and inspiring, Bozoma opens up about the loss of her husband to cancer and learning how to cope with grief and raise her daughter while managing a demanding corporate job. She also shares the career advice she learned to ignore-- to never wear bright red nail polish or lipstick and to stay understated in order to be taken seriously. Just as Bozoma learned to dress and act the way that felt most natural to her—in a way that reflected her bold, powerful self—she empowers her audience to embrace all aspects of their identity and personality, and express themselves regardless of their work environment.
Over the course of her career, Bozoma “Boz” Saint John has earned a formidable reputation as a trail blazing brand marketing executive and change agent. With almost 20 years of experience that spans multiple industries including digital music/entertainment, consumer packaged goods, fashion, sports and automotive, Boz is uniquely qualified for her current role as the Chief Marketing Officer at Endeavor.
Prior to Endeavor, Boz was appointed into the newly established role of Chief Brand Officer at Uber in June 2017 to utilize her years of expertise in combining her pop culture savvy, analytical consumer insights, and the ever changing media landscape to build a deeper, more meaningful connection between Uber and its drivers and riders.
Boz rose to fame in tech circles during her role as the Head of Global Consumer Marketing for Apple Music and iTunes (including iTunes movies, iBooks and Apple News) where she spearheaded campaigns geared towards growing consumer brand recognition, loyalty and equity around the world. Boz even stepped in front of the camera to represent the brand in a memorable commercial for Apple Music featuring James Corden, alongside Apple executives Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine which premiered on the 2016 Emmy Awards. However, her most electrifying moment at Apple was when Boz stole the show at Apple’s keynote World Wide Developers Conference when she introduced the new user interface for Apple Music. Following her presentation, Buzzfeed called her the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event" and Wired Magazine reminded the world "she was a bad ass long before she was at Apple."
Before Apple Music and iTunes, Boz was head of the Music and Entertainment Marketing Group at Pepsi-Cola North America, where she drove breakthrough, integrated & sustained consumer engagement plans for brands across the soda giant’s beverages portfolio (Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Aquafina) by engaging tastemaker-consumers using various channels in print, online, grassroots, events, and retail vehicles. She aligned teams internally and externally to create a formidable center of excellence which created partnerships with film studios for authentic product placement, record labels for breakthrough commercial deals, and the sports industry for live brand experiences. During her tenure, she developed programs with some of the world's biggest stars like Kanye West, Tom Brady, Kerry Washington, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Drake, & Mary J Blige and of course her idol, THE Michael Jackson. It also during this time, that Boz worked on the highest profiled sports event with the NFL for the Super Bowl Halftime Show (featuring Beyonce in 2013, Bruno Mars in 2014, and Katy Perry in 2015).
Prior to Pepsi, Boz served as Vice President of Marketing for Ashley Stewart (a women’s fashion brand) as well as managed accounts at advertising agencies Arnold Worldwide and Spike Lee's SpikeDDB.
Boz has been recognized for her breakthrough work by both the industry and her peers, having been inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement in 2014. She currently sits on its Executive Committee. She was named 2016’s Executive of the Year by Billboard Magazine, featured in Fortune Magazine’s Disruptors, Innovators & Stars 40 Under 40 feature, Billboard ’s Top Executives 40 Under 40 and Power 100 lists, Fast Company ’s 100 Most Creative People, Ad Age ’s 50 Most Creative People, Ebony Magazine’s 100 Powerful Executives, Black Enterprise ’s Most Powerful Women in Business, and made the cover of AdWeek as one of the most exciting personalities in Advertising, and the cover of Working Mother magazine. Additionally, Boz has been awarded African Health Now’s Inaugural Gift of Life Leadership Award as well as BET’s Leading Women Defined Butterfly Award. In March, 2017, she was named as a Henry Crown Fellow by the Aspen Institute.
In spite of all of her professional accomplishments, Boz recognizes her greatest job is as mother to her 9 year old daughter, Lael. After the death of her husband Peter to cancer in 2013, Boz also took on the efforts of raising funding for cancer research, and was recognized by the TJ Martell Foundation at their Women of Influence gala for her devotion to the cause. Boz’s other philanthropic efforts include serving on the Leadership Council for the United Nation’s partnership with the PVBLIC Foundation, serving on the board of Girls Who Code, and Vital Voices; as well as an executive mentor for the Levo League.
Boz was born in Middletown, CT, but spent her early childhood in Nairobi Kenya, Washington DC, and Accra Ghana, before immigrating to Colorado Springs CO when she was 12 years old. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English and African American Studies from Wesleyan University (at which she currently sits on the President’s Advisory Council). After becoming an adopted daughter of Harlem NYC for over a decade, she now resides in Los Angeles, CA with offices in LA and San Francisco.