CATHERINE HUGHES, founder of Radio One, one of the nation’s largest radio broadcasting companies, was rejected 32 times for a business loan. Joy Bramble, publisher of the Baltimore Times, started her newspaper business in her kitchen. And Gwendolyn Calvert Baker, former president of the United States Committee for UNICEF, didn’t obtain her bachelor’s degree until she was in her 30s.
Author Valencia Campbell shares these and other stories in her book, “Advice From the Top: What Minority Women Say About Their Career Success” (ABC-CLIO, $39.95). Campbell, a Maryland-based consultant on educational topics and women’s issues, traces the careers of 14 successful minority businesswomen to find out what challenges they faced and how they worked their way up the ladder. We spoke with Campbell to see what others can learn from the women’s experiences.
» EXPRESS: What inspired you to write this book?
» CAMPBELL: Being involved with group called 9to5, the National Association of Working Women. It had a hotline that involved helping women with questions about workplace issues. One of the things that I found was that most of those complaints were always fairly negative. So, I started thinking, “What would be a really good thing to do where a larger group of people could benefit from knowing how women succeeded in the workplace?”
» EXPRESS: Do successful minority women tend to get as much attention as they deserve?
» CAMPBELL: I think in many instances, women all over the country may be getting some recognition, but we don’t tend to know about it as far as it being published. That, to me, is one of the larger problems. You could probably think of women you know who have done very well, but if no one else gets to know about these women, it’s only their own pool of contact who might be aware of them.
» EXPRESS: What were some of the keys to their success?
» CAMPBELL: Mentors were quite important. If you read their stories, I think you can see how each of them had other people in their lives who were so beneficial in helping them move forward.
» EXPRESS: What do you hope people take away from this book?
» CAMPBELL: I hope that they will be inspired to help mentor someone else in their career … and to share their knowledge about how they were successful in the workplace. And that’s how we really learn over time, hearing about the stories and using the information that would be beneficial to us.
Written by Express contributor Beth Luberecki
Photo courtesy Valencia Campbell