A conversation with Badass Boz: leadership, creativity, and success for the future of business
Over the course of her awe-inspiring career, Netflix CMO 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 being CMO of Endeavor- one of the world's largest talent representation agencies, to 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 Netflix-- 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,” Netflix CMO 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. Prior to Netflix, Bozoma was the CMO of Endeavor, one of the largest entertainment representation companies on the world. 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, Netflix CMO 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.
Bozoma Saint John is Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix. Over the course of her career, Boz has earned a formidable reputation as a trailblazing marketing and advertising executive. She most recently served as CMO of Endeavor, a global leader in entertainment, sports and fashion. Operating in more than 30 countries, Endeavor is the parent of a number of subsidiaries with leadership positions in their respective industries, including WME, IMG and UFC. Collectively, Endeavor specializes in talent representation and management; brand marketing, sponsorship and licensing; media development, sales and distribution; and event operation, sports training and league development. In her role, Boz focused on driving marketing efforts across Endeavor’s growing portfolio, as well as its 160over90 business, which works with premium brands including Anheuser Busch InBev, Marriott, Microsoft, T-Mobile, USAA and Visa.
Boz also served as Chief Brand Officer for Uber, where she was tasked with telling the stories of millions of riders and driver partners across 600+ cities. Prior to Uber, Boz served as Head of Global Consumer Marketing for Apple Music and iTunes, spearheading campaigns geared towards growing consumer brand recognition, loyalty and equity around the world. She stole the show at Apple’s keynote World Wide Developers Conference in 2016, where she introduced the new interface for Apple Music. Following the presentation, Buzzfeed called her the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event.”
Prior to Apple, Boz served as Head of the Music and Entertainment Marketing Group at Pepsi-Cola North America, where she drove breakthrough consumer engagement plans for brands across the soda giant’s beverages portfolio by engaging tastemaker-consumers. Before Pepsi, Boz served as VP 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. She has been inducted into Billboard’s Women in Music 2018 Hall of Fame and in 2014, she was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement, where she currently sits on their Executive Committee. She was named to The Hollywood Reporter’s 2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100 list and 2016’s Executive of the Year by Billboard Magazine; she has been 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, Fortune Magazine’s 2018 list of Most Influential CMOs, and made the cover of Adweek as one of the most exciting personalities in Advertising. 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 in the Aspen Institute. During the 2020 Spring semester, Professor Frances Frei of Harvard Business School used Saint John’s successful marketing career as a case study in her MBA class, “Leading Difference.” Boz appeared as a guest lecturer for the Harvard MBA students, delving deep into the tactical and pivotal marketing moves she made throughout her career, which she now credits as intrinsic to her success. Most recently, Saint John launched a podcast alongside award-winning journalist Katie Couric, “Back to Biz with Katie and Boz,” which explores the ways thought leaders, CEOs and innovators are responding to the societal shifts that have been ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic.
In spite of all of her professional success, Boz considers her greatest accomplishment to be mothering her 11 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 has been recognized by the TJ Martell Foundation for her devotion to the cause. Boz’s other philanthropic efforts include representing Pencils of Promise as a Global Ambassador to Ghana and serving on the boards of Girls Who Code and Vital Voices.
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 many years in New York, she currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.