YOUNG BLACK ENTREPRENEUR MAGAZINE
What year did you become a member of Delta Sigma Theta?
What is the name of the chapter where you were initiated and what is your line name?
1992, Iota Chi, University of South Carolina, line name: Enginuity (a spin off of the word ‘Ingenuity’ - my major was engineering and they were always saying how I believed in the practice of efficiency.
lol. Still do!)
What attracted you to the sorority?
I have always believed Deltas were the most grounded of the sororities in the NPHC. By this I mean, that as a teenager starting college, Deltas seemed most focused on the plight of African Americans (AA) and women in the United States and abroad. An example is one of the first public acts of my founders was their participation in the Women's Suffrage March in Washington, D.C., on March 3, 1913. Social action remains a strong undercurrent in just about everything we do to this day.
What did you learn from becoming a Delta that has been instrumental to your success as an entrepreneur?
I have learned so many things. However, Scholarship, Service and Sisterhood stand out as the three most important. As a first generation college student, education was not considered as a necessity by my family. In fact, it was actually discouraged in lieu of getting a job so that I could immediately contribute to the family’s finances after high school. I was a smart kid with a propensity toward math and science. Because of the gifted programs in my elementary and middle schools, I had exposures to the power of education that my family could not see or comprehend. I am forever grateful to those fantastic black female educators in rural South Carolina that pushed me to excel, many of whom I would later find out are Deltas. So I am a perpetual learner. I am always pursuing a class or certification where I can learn to be better at my job. Service is a big part of my life as well. Now that I am more tenured in my career, I consider it my responsibility to assist those more junior, especially young AA women. I was raised in a Christian home and subscribe to the idea of being a servant leader. It is also important to donate charity and to volunteer in organizations that serve the greater good. I recently served three years as a Board Member for the Executive Women of Goizueta. We created and curated programming designed to provide women with the skills and tools to move upward in the corporate ranks.
How has the Delta network impacted you as a business owner?
The University of South Carolina is a PWI. My Delta network started in college where we formed study groups to help us to prepare for exams. AAs in STEM majors were rare. I was often the only minority, male or female, in many of my classes. Since that time, my Sorors have always been the gateways and gatekeepers that have propelled me to extend beyond the Bachelors degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering to a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering also from the University of South Carolina and later an MBA from Emory University. I am currently considering programs to earn the PhD in Organizational Management and Leadership.
What is the name of your business and what do you do?
My company is called Insignia Management Consulting, Inc. where I am Principal Consultant. As an independent consultant, I tackle strategic and operational Information Technology obstacles to assist Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation programs. In a nutshell, I help companies solve difficult technology challenges. My clients include AT&T, Kimberly Clark, and Ericsson among others. I have owned and operated my company for 12 years. Prior to that, I held various leadership positions in several organizations in addition to a few other entrepreneurial pursuits.
How do you use your business to live out the five point thrust of our sorority?
I am in independent consultant in IT. I get to choose clients that align with my value system. Delta’s 5 programmatic thrusts (economic development, educational development, international awareness & involvement, physical and mental health and Political awareness and involvement) are incorporated in every way. I also seek voluntary assistance from my client partners and network where appropriate for donations and other support.
What does it mean for you to give back?
Giving back is the air that I breathe. It is vital. I have already mentioned the incredible benefit I received from the educators in rural South Carolina that mentored and supported me. I often think ‘where would I be without them?’. So my mission in life is to pay that dedication and commitment back to those that follow me. My daughters are prime examples. They have it much easier than I did and have access to resources that I couldn’t have imagined. I endeavor to teach them everything I have learned both professionally and personally. I encourage them to help others as well. I am extremely proud of the young women they are becoming. I have also recently been a guest speaker for the Emory University Personal Leadership Collective. I am happy to participate in programs such as this that focus on the progression of our future leaders.
Why should people do business with you?
My philosophy in life is that attitude trumps aptitude. We have to choose our response to situations and people who may not recognize our talent because they cannot or will not see beyond race and gender. I recognize that my job is not my source. God is. This affords me the grace to really put my life and my work into perspective. My educational attainment and professional achievement would be enough for a majority race and gender person, i.e. white male, in my area of expertise. It’s not enough for me. I recognize this and it comes forward in my work performance and in the ways I approach my clients and colleagues. I have a stellar reputation and background. Yet, my best work remains ahead of me. This is why people have will continue to do business with me.
When we become Deltas our goal is to make the sorority proud, to become a notable Delta. What are you doing or have you done that has you on the path to becoming a notable Delta, what accomplishment are you the most proud for people to know about?
Professionally, I am most proud of the independent management consulting company that I have owned as a sole proprietor for more than 12 years. I am proud that despite a few setbacks, I have managed to create a successful practice that has sustained my family and afforded me some incredible opportunities to be challenged and to grow professionally including the opportunity to be here today. I’ve enjoyed progressively challenging program management and strategic roles. I thrive in engagements where my work directly impacts customer outcomes. As an example, I was able to lead a program saving a client $20M in less than one year utilizing data from their network that allowed us to target, monitor and actuate on the behavior of end-customers. This was a very rewarding experience and one I am looking to top in terms of the value that I add in my engagements! So while I have enjoyed a career that I am truly proud of, I believe the best is yet to come.
Which Delta inspires you and why? (this does not have to be “famous” person)
It’s incredibly difficult to name just one. So I will start with the first woman that I personally knew to be a Delta. Her name is Mrs. Margaret Scott, and she was my high school AP US History teacher. She was tough but lovingly so. She always pushed us to study hard and to do our best. I could tell that she felt personally vested in our success both inside the classroom and beyond high school. Getting a bad grade in her class would not only be personally disappointing, I knew that I would also let her down. I also recall that she was incredibly stylish and exuded grace and elegance. She was tall, dark-skinned and incredibly beautiful inside and out. Through her leadership in that classroom, she taught me the impact of what it means to really care about people and that when you demonstrate care and kindness to someone, you can affect their outlook and subsequently their outcome.
Give three words that describe your impact on the globe.
Authenticity, Sustainability, Love.