Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Kilts Center’s Speaker Series with Judy Toland, VP Shared Solutions at Facebook. The event was co-sponsored by the Chicago Women in Business (CWIB) and African American MBA Association (AAMBAA) student groups. As a co-chair of AAMBAA and Kilts fellow, I appreciated spending the afternoon learning about Judy’s inspiring background as a Black woman engineer, MBA-turned-marketer with a long and impressive career across multiple industries, and most recently at Facebook. Judy was present with her team, a reminder of how valuable people are in any career. Judy, along with Brandi Pitts, Director, Global Head of Partnerships, Digital Marketing highlighted Facebook’s integrative marketing process using Facebook Elevate as a case study.
Elevate is a social and economic initiative that supports Black and Latinx & Hispanic businesses, creators, leaders, students, job seekers, and nonprofits to accelerate their success and create impact in their communities. Elevate seems to accomplish this by providing digital skills training aimed at two million Black and Latinx & Hispanic individuals, who experience the effects of systemic racism. During the pandemic, Black businesses declined by 41% and Latinx and Hispanic businesses by 32% respectively, so having tools to weather the storm, grow, and transform their businesses was even more important. The Elevate team was able to accomplish this by employing a diverse team, partnering with, and hiring women- and minority-owned creative agencies and media partners who best understood the target communities and how to engage with them authentically.
I personally came to Booth to build my business acumen, explore my interest in Marketing, and channel my passion for entrepreneurship into a more innovation-driven career. Having founded micro businesses in the past without resources to grow scale, it was refreshing to see an initiative focused on intentional partnerships and long-term empowerment of underrepresented minorities who look like me.
To measure success, KPIs were pulled from data regarding engagement levels, impressions, and sign ups. After a year, Elevate was able to engage 2.7 million people, 35% more than the initial goal. The campaign spotlighted success stories, including a local Chicago favorite, Back of the Yards coffee. I am excited to see the level of impact the initiative, which leverages technology and marketing, will generate in minority communities in the US and how this model can also be replicated globally.
After the session, Judy and Brandi hosted a smaller Q&A session for AAMBAA and CWIB co-chairs and members, where they shared valuable career advice for pivoting careers, navigating the tech space, negotiating salaries, and knowing one’s worth, through the perspective of being women of color. We learned how they leaned into their strengths and differences to ensure that being the first in a team didn’t make them the last as they continued to promote diversity. Judy highlighted the importance of bringing one’s full self to work and I couldn’t help but admire what she referred to as her ‘Kwanzaa dress’ made of a colorful African fabric.
I am grateful to the Kilts Center for organizing an event at the intersection of marketing, tech, diversity, inclusion and social impact! It was truly one of the most insightful, engaging and inspiring speaker sessions I’ve attended at Booth.
The Kilts Center for Marketing hosts events and programs throughout the academic year that showcase the breadth and depth of marketing skills across job functions and industries. Learn more about the Kilts Center and stay up to date on Booth marketing community news, successes, and events by following the Kilts Center on LinkedIn.