Avery Joshua, MBA, has spent her career building a corporate brand that is as versatile as it is impactful. She’s mastered the art of leveraging her influence in order to create meaningful change, not just within her own company, but across industries. We sat down with Avery to get a glimpse into her life as a corporate queen and how a shift in her career – from finance to racial equity – is helping to move the needle on how corporations approach social impact work.
You’ve been in corporate America for the majority of your career. Tell us, what led you to corporate and why you’ve chosen to stay.
I studied finance in undergrad at the University of Maryland, so I always knew I would end up in a corporate space. I originally thought that it would be in the investment banking world, but I quickly set my sights on consulting and have been in the industry ever since. Almost 11 years later, I’ve stayed because of the diverse range of experiences I’ve been able to have, the intelligence and drive of the people around me, and the support I have received from my leaders. I love being in spaces where I am continuing to learn and have opportunities to pour in to the next generation of leaders.
How has mentorship played a role in where you are today?
Mentorship has been invaluable for me. I remember a conflict that I got into with a manager of mine several years ago. Had it not been for a conversation with my mentor, I likely would have given up on that relationship with that manager. But instead, my mentor challenged me to figure out how to come to mutual understanding and how to resolve the conflict instead of giving up on the relationship entirely. That old manager is now a leader in my organization and we have a great working relationship. One that I credit largely to my mentor’s advice.
What advice would you give Black women who are navigating job growth/advancement in corporate America?
Any corporate space is going to have its own culture and norms, just like any other organization. My advice to black women who are looking to advance their careers is to be themselves, have well-informed points of view, and be ready to advocate for yourself. In corporate spaces, it’s often that the people who advance the quickest are those who can best articulate the value that they bring. Also, I can’t stress enough the importance of having both mentors and sponsors from diverse backgrounds. There are people ready and willing to support you if you just ask.
We know you recently ventured into equity work. What drove this decision and in what ways has this work impacted you?
Yes! I’ve taken a step out of my day job in consulting to spend 2 years on finding ways for the corporate world to advocate for public policies that advance racial equity. After the racial justice protests and conversations that rightly took over our culture in the summer of 2020, I felt like there was more I could do with my time and my talents than protesting and donating to nonprofits. When I chose to step into this new role, I knew that there would be a lot for me to learn. Equity work is new for me. However, I knew that I had other skills that I could bring to the work.
Making this change has really impacted the way I see the role of corporations in societal conversations. There is so much power and influence in corporations that can be leverage for the good of all people.
Broadly speaking, what do you aspire to have accomplished within this work?
My goal is impact – both personally and collectively. Personally, I want to have a positive impact on all of the individuals and teams I am a part of. I want to make sure that I’m bringing support and encouragement to what is really hard and emotionally draining work. Collectively, I want to see corporate and public policies changed in ways that benefit Black people as a result of our efforts. It’s a big goal, but I’m working with an amazing group of people who are all up for the challenge.