Speaker Spotlight: Angela Guy, SVP, Diversity & Inclusion, L’Oreal

This week's Corporate L&D Institute Speaker Spotlight features Angela Guy, SVP, Diversity & Inclusion at L’Oreal and a panelist at this year's Corporate L&D Institute, sharing insights on "Embedding Diversity and Inclusion into Learning Programs to Drive Productivity and Bottom Line Results." 

We had the chance to catch up with Angela this week to ask her a few questions about her role, her career and her advice for aspiring HR Leaders.  This is what she shared with us:

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced along your career path? 

I try not to focus on obstacles without referencing an opportunity, so I’ll start with the obstacle and end with the opportunity.  I spent most of my career in Sales and relocated/moved over 20 times.  There were numerous obstacles associated with packing up and moving to various states, especially as a young, single, black woman; however, one of the most memorable obstacles was the time when I felt I was ready to take on P&L responsibility witha Vice President title.  At that point, I had been quite successful at each level of my sales career which provided the opportunity for me to move into different territories from the East coast to the West and across the Midwest.  I was an Executive Sales Director leading teams that serviced many of the US top retail accounts.  I made it clear to management that I wanted to be a Vice President with P&L responsibility.  When an internal opportunity was finally presented, it involved a relocation to Canada, where the volume responsibility was a fraction of what I was managing at that time.  It was not the ideal job, nor was it the job my supervisors wanted me to take.  They were pleased with my work and offered an expanded role if I decided to stay. The counter scenario was interesting but it did not come with the P&L responsibility that I knew was important to my advancement or the title that I craved.  Needless to say, I took the role in Canada and never regretted it one minute. While the volume was smaller; the portfolio was more complex.  The exposure to senior management was greater. The empowerment was higher and the personal growth of living in a foreign country made me a better leader.

What attributes or personal characteristics do you believe are integral to your role? 

As a D&I Professional, leader and change agent, courage and integrity are two of the main characteristics that come to mind.  You have to be an intentional listener with the courage to challenge the status quo, speak up and out on matters of importance, with an authenticity that is grounded in respect and inclusion.   Credibility and trust are two other key attributes that are  important, especially when handling personal and confidential situations.

What is your advice to someone who is moving up the ranks in the field and wants to pursue an executive career? 

My advice is to learn everything you can about your field and the company for which you want to work. “Sharpen the Saw,” as quoted by Steven Covey; constantly update your skills. Network  inside and outside the company.  Find mentors and perform in a way that a sponsor will want to advocate and support.  Be open to new opportunities that may not seem like those you may have planned for yourself. Try a new adventure; step out of your comfort zone, and always be mindful that people above and below your level may be watching you and the example you lead.

Join the interactive panel discussions and walk away with some actionable insights from the Corporate L&D Institute, September 17th -19th, 2017 at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa in Hilton Head, S.C.  Click here to request your invite.