I recall the moment I found out Ursula Burns had been promoted to CEO of Xerox Corporation like it was yesterday. As one of the very few African American women at the top of the corporate ladder, I had long admired Ms. Burns. Finding out she was going to become the first African-American woman to run a Fortune 500 company came as great news to me, almost sort of like an adrenaline rush. As cheesy as it may sound, I recall breathing a sigh of relief and saying to myself, “the ceiling has been broken..”.
But it would take 2-3 years before another African-American woman would successfully break that ceiling as well.
Yesterday, Walmart announced that Rosalind Brewer has been named CEO of Sam’s Club, making her the first woman and the first African-American to hold a CEO position at one of the company’s business units.
Mrs. Brewer comes very well qualified for the job. She holds a B.S in Chemistry from Spelman College and attended the Advanced Management Program at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she graduated from Director’s College at the University of Chicago School of Business and Stanford School of Law.
Career wise, she has held various positions at Kimberly-Clark where she initially started as a scientist and worked her way to becoming a VP. She joined Walmart in 2006 as VP of Georgia Operations and became Divisional President for the Southeastern Operations. In 2011 she was promoted to EVP and President of Walmart East Division were she was responsible for a $100 billion book if business. And now, she has been named the CEO of Sam’s Club.
In addition, she sits of the Board of Directors for Lockheed Martin, Board of Trustees for Spelman College, Board of Trustees for Westminster Schools (Atlanta), Board of Councilors for the Carter Presidential Center and was on the Board of Directors of the Molson Coors Brewing Company from 2006 to 2011.
In 2010, she was named one of CNN’s FORTUNE Magazine “50 Most Powerful Women”.
Mrs. Brewer is a force to reckon with indeed!
I am incredibly proud of what she has and continues to accomplish and I hope her appointment serves as an inspiration to women (not only African American), that the ever so elusive CEO position is attainable after all.