Bozoma Saint John is an innovative Apple marketing exec and says that bringing your 'whole self' is game changing
On her Instagram account (@badass-boz), Bozoma Saint John, the head of Apple Music and iTunes consumer marketing, describes herself as, “Self proclaimed badass & badmamajama. Generally bad. And good at it. Head diva of global consumer marketing @[email protected]“ You guessed it, Saint John isn’t your average corporate leader. Affectionately called “Boz,” the entertainment powerhouse has held notable positions at Spike bee’s ad agency and at PepsiCo, where she adopted a career-defining mantra from CEO India Nooyi: “Bring your whole self to work.” Its paid off. Last year, the industry dynamo made Ad Age’s Creativity 60 and Fortunes Tор 40 Under 40 lists and received Billboard’s Women in Music Executive of the Year award.
“I quickly realized that my own unique attributes would help me stand out,” Saint John tells EBONY. “I brought all my ideas— even the crazy ones—to work, and it literally turned around my outlook, productivity and reception in the office.”
Her creativity led her to Beats Music as a marketing executive and, after Apple’s acquisition in 2014, she famously produced the Apple Music advertisement featuring superstars Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige and Kerry Washington bonding over a song playlist.
As a leader at Apple, Saint John’s daily duties combine rubbing elbows at some of the most envy-inducing pop culture events—think the Golden Globe Awards or Paris Fashion Week—and collaborating on marketing initiatives for various brand divisions, including iTunes movies, iBooks and Apple News.
She is unapologetic about her work, style and larger-than-life mane. The Los Angeles-based executive notes she tried the ‘‘corporate look” at the beginning of her career, but it just didn’t work. “I found that I could barely function unless I was wholly comfortable,” she says. “And once I realized that people reacted the same way to me whether I was in khakis or leather, I chose leather.” Now, the Ghanaian-born stunner’s fashionable ensembles, from African print skirts to silver lame dresses, have become one of her biggest attributes.
Saint John also credits collaborating with and supporting other women for transforming her career trajectory. The shot caller even dedicated her acceptance speech at the Billboard Women in Music Executive of the Year Award to “the sistahs,” the ladies she counts as her personal and professional tribe.
“I have had incredible relationships with women over the course of my career,” she says. “I don’t want any woman to feel alone. We need to pave the way so others don’t have to clear the road.”
Still, having a team isn’t the only thing needed to get ahead.
Saint John also advises Black women to get from behind their desks and meet people to advance professionally. “This is not the time to shy away with heads buried and solely focus on the work,” she says. “We have to network and create alliances. Allies come in all shades, creeds and genders.”