Bozoma Saint John may not be a familiar name, but her work speaks for itself. The 40-year-old Colorado Springs native, who is of Ghanian descent, spent the better part of the last 20 years building an impressive dossier, while making her mark in the marketing industry.
During her stint at Pepsi, as the head of music and entertainment marketing, she was one of the driving forces behind some of our favorite Super Bowl halftime shows: Beyonce in 2013, Bruno Mars in 2014, and Katy Perry in 2015. Previous to working at Pepsi, she worked at retailer Ashley Stewart and then Spike Lee’s DDB. Like, we said her work speaks for itself.
In 2014, after joining Apple Music via the company’s merger with Dr. Dre’s Beats Music, she hit the ground running. Last year, Saint John’s popularity skyrocketed after presenting Apple’s new music interface at the developer’s conference, to a crowd of over 3,000 to the tunes of Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.”
While at Apple, she one of the masterminds behind some the brand’s biggest ads including the Taylor Swift and Drake workout clips and our favorite black girl magic commercial starring Mary J. Blige, Taraji P. Henson and Kerry Washington, directed by Ava Duvernay. She quickly became the face of empowerment and diversity in the tech world garnering accolades and recognition from Adweek, Billboard, Ebony, Fast Company, Fortune among several others.
Earlier this week, Saint John abruptly announced she was leaving Apple Music to join embattled car service Uber, as their chief brand officer. In a new interview, she explains her departure from Apple Music, diversity and her plans for Uber. Peep the excerpts below.
On why she took the position at Uber:
I’m just excited. I think Uber is in an exciting space right now in the world. The brand is one that certainly has a lot of potential, and for me, a marketer who enjoys pop culture and spaces that are really growing and exciting, I want to be a part of evaluating and changing and shaping a brand that is really important to pop culture. So here I am.
On leaving Apple Music:
I love Apple Music. I helped build Apple Music. It will always be a very, very big part of my life and part of the journey. But it’s time to do this.
On what she thinks her biggest accomplishment was at Apple Music:
I am really proud of the work that we all did together at Apple. Launching Apple Music and having it grow to the size that it is now is something I will always be proud of. That, in and of itself, is a monumental task. To me, those are accomplishments I carry with pride.
On if she picks roles based on the company’s diversity:
I wouldn’t say it helps weigh in on the decision, but I do think it’s important. I think diversity and having women and people of color in key positions is really important. Obviously, I’ve been a black woman my whole life. I don’t have have any other experience. [Laughs] I think I can contribute in major ways. To have the opportunity to do that is really important and I think more should be given those roles and opportunities.
On what she plans to bring to the table at Uber:
I don’t know — I think that’s the beauty of it, right? It feels like the Wild Wild West. We’re pioneers, and I am ready. I’ve got the tools. I’m ready to go and set out on this and see what is to come. That’s the excitement of getting into this space, which is that I really don’t know what exactly we’re going to be trying to overcome. I’m certainly very versed in the path, what the challenges are, so I’m going in with eyes wide open. But I’m also giving myself the permission to be nimble and quick and change things as quickly as we need to.
And by the way, I have the full commitment and confidence of the leadership team that I’m going to be able to do that — and that’s also part of the reason why I am excited. It’s like, listen, we’re going to need to do things. It’s going to be fast. It’s going to be hot. I bring as much passion and excitement to this job as I have to every other job I’ve had, so I’m gonna need the trust and faith to move what I need to move — and that’s what I plan to do.