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.
Event Success Story: Bozoma Saint John made a major impact at Braze’s FORGE Event, earning rave reviews
Trailblazing and award-winning marketing executive BOZOMA SAINT JOHN joined customer engagement powerhouse Braze for their dynamic annual user conference and made a major impact. The annual event, FORGE, explores the intersection of humanity, technology, and creativity, and Boz’s revelatory insights perfectly celebrated the theme: “Start Anywhere. Go Everywhere.” Leveraging an unparalleled breadth and depth of experience, Boz shared insights from her remarkable success at Netflix, Pepsi, Apple, Uber, and the Endeavor brands, generating excitement and leaving the captivated audience motivated to take their work to the next level. Connecting with 500 in-person and more than 3000 virtual attendees, including C-suite executives, growth marketers, and developers, the award-winning innovation expert offered profound yet actionable takeaways for maximizing high-performance engagement.
Following the event, the host raved: "Would you kindly pass along to Boz how much the Braze team and our FORGE audience of customers, prospects, and partners appreciated her lively and inspiring Fireside Chat with Astha Malik, CMO at Braze? We are also grateful that she shared her experience with her many followers. Thanks to you and all at Harry Walker and on Boz's team who helped make the magic happen.” Beyond her sought after events, Boz will published her highly anticipated memoir, The Urgent Life, which will be released in the Spring of 2023 by Penguin Books. Boz inspires groups such as Chief, Convercent, INBOUND, Adweek, SXSW, and Facebook Canada, who shared: “Bozoma was indeed magical – she crushed it today. Everyone LOVED her. Totally elevated the event for our customers!”
Award-winning innovator Bozoma Saint John helps leadership teams reinvent themselves, innovate, and dominate their markets
Innovation expert BOZOMA SAINT JOHN has earned a formidable reputation as a trailblazing brand and marketing executive and genuine change-agent in the space. Hailed as the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event,” by Buzzfeed, Boz brings unparalleled energy, transformative thinking, and innovative ideas to each engagement. For her remarkable success at Netflix, Pepsi, Apple, Uber, and the Endeavor brands, she has received countless accolades. Boz has been honored by the Ms. Foundation for Women at the 2022 Women of Vision Awards: The Future is Feminist and was tapped to host The Africa-America Institute’s (AAI) annual gala, which brings together many notable guests, including heads of state, diplomats, government officials, business and civil society leaders and scholars. At events, Boz is consistently praised: “Bozoma was indeed magical – she crushed it today. Everyone LOVED her. Totally elevated the event for our customers!” (Facebook)
The Hall of Fame inducted Marketing Executive has been featured on the cover of Adweek as “one of the most exciting personalities in advertising,” and consistently appears on prestigious lists ranging from The Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment Power 100” to Fast Company’s and Ad Age’s “Most Creative People” to Ebony’s 100 Powerful Executives. Boz is also set to publish her highly anticipated memoir, The Urgent Life, which will be released in the Spring of 2023 by Penguin Books. From tactical insights into the narratives and communication want from businesses now to how leadership can deliver in an authentic way, Boz's insights leave audiences prepared to innovate.
Bozoma Saint John Named Forbes #1 Most Influential CMO
Forbes shared, “Many chief marketing officers have personal brands that are often attached to the company they work for. Bozoma Saint John’s brand goes far beyond Netflix, where she became CMO a little more than a year ago. In her first year at the streaming giant, she’s led a wide range of creative campaigns." They also complimented her marketing experience at Endeavor, Uber, and Apple Music, as well as her classes at Harvard Business School about the power of authenticity. Forbes continued, “Saint John has also been a leader on issues related to diversity and equality. Last summer, she worked with Glennon Doyle and dozens of other celebrities on a collaborative campaign called #sharethemicnow to amplify Black voices across a wide range of white women’s Instagram accounts.” Next, Saint John is publishing a memoir, The Urgent Life, about resilience and her bold outlook on life, shaped by difficult moments such as the loss of her husband to cancer."
Hailed as the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event,” by Buzzfeed, Boz brings unparalleled energy, transformative thinking, and innovative ideas to each engagement.
Case Study: Bozoma Saint John taught a “Badass Workshop” at Harvard Business School, sharing the secrets to her success
Netflix’s Former Chief Marketing Officer BOZOMA SAINT JOHN led a workshop called “Anatomy of a Badass” at Harvard Business School, speaking to MBA candidates to teach the secrets to her success. Harvard’s short intensive programs (SIP) generally have 50-60 participants, but around 300 students expressed interest in this one. Along with her experience as Netflix’s CMO, Saint John is the former CMO at Endeavor, Chief Brand Officer at Uber, and Marketing Executive for Apple Music and PepsiCo, giving her a wide range of experience as a trailblazing brand marketing executive that she shared with a new generation of business leaders. Saint John spoke on the tactical and pivotal marketing moves she made during her career by trusting her gut instincts, which she finds critical for her success. Professor Francesca Gino shared on social media after the sessions, “Loved today’s class. Among the many insights: Set your own expectations. Say it, by stating them outloud. Advocate for them. Share them with your pack so that they can speak about them outloud in rooms you are not in.”
Bozoma Saint John is the former Global Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix, the world’s leading streaming entertainment service with 200 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Before Netflix, Boz served as Chief Marketing Officer at 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, T-Mobile, USAA and Visa.
Over the course of her career, Boz has earned a formidable reputation as a trailblazing marketing and advertising executive. She most recently 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. In 2021, Boz was named #1 on Forbes’ World’s Most Influential CMOs list and the Harvard Business School published a case study about her career and leadership; “Bozoma Saint John: Leading with Authenticity and Urgency”.
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. In May 2020, 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. Most recently, Saint John launched the #ShareTheMicNow Instagram initiative; alongside Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Glennon Doyle, and Stacey Bendet. On June 10, 2020, 52 Black women took over the Instagram feeds of 52 white women with large platforms, magnifying Black women and the important work that they’re doing in order to catalyze change. The campaign was incredibly successful, collecting 17 billion impressions.
In spite of all of her professional success, Boz considers her greatest accomplishment to be mothering her 12-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.