Nearing the end of her series, Zinaejah took on Nathalie Godwin, APR, and Assistant Vice President of External Communication at Unum, a global insurance company. Like herself, Zinaejah found connection when she saw that Godwin had had a background in journalism as well, along with the fact that she was a successful black woman, which Zinaejah aspired to be.
Starting off with her first position in communications at NASA and working on the Mars rover mission, Nathalie Godwin, saw many more positions at big companies following this experience. Later, she even worked for companies like UPS and Hilton. As each of these companies are large corporate organizations, Zinaejah was interested to know what it was like being in leadership positions as a woman of color.
“I find that I’m always working much harder,” said Nathalie Godwin. “Your white colleagues are labeled as passionate while I’m labeled as the angry black woman, and that’s really tough. After George Floyd’s murder, I was reading all about different experiences on LinkedIn from other black females and I was reading about me! I think if anything, it taught me that I wasn’t alone in my experiences.”
With those shared experiences, Ozier found it important to also receive advice, seeing that she may one day be in that position as well. Nathalie broke it down into three pieces of advices that she found was helpful to mention to young black women in the past.
Don’t work for a brand that you don’t believe in their ideals,” said Godwin. “Be who you want to be, not who they want you to be. If it’s not you, then who? So, why not you? Growth and comfort never co-exist, so never stop growing.”
Since this interview series has been based off of mentorship and what it means to have a mentor as an African-American, Zinaejah was curious to know what role mentors and mentees played in Godwin’s life.
“My mentor and my mentee both teach me so much. I was struggling with a colleague [once] and I told my VP that I needed a mentor and they had to look like me so that they understood what I was going through. It was very nice because I was able to have those closed-door conversations that were very honest and tough, but it definitely helped me to navigate corporate culture.”
Godwin ended with a few takeaways that she felt were very important to know while entering into the professional world as a future leader.
“Now is the time to listen, have those uncomfortable conversations, take action, and make a difference. Representative John Lewis once said that he had an executive session with himself and he said, ‘We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We can’t have silence right now. It’s time to be courageous and have those uncomfortable conversations. We have to take the first step and believe in the possibility that we can be better.’”
To watch the full interview for yourself, click here!
For more on the series, click here.
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