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Meet Brittany Cole of Career Thrivers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittany Cole.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Brittany. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Every experience is an opportunity for continuous improvement. Growing up, the youngest of three and the only girl, my dad would always tell my brothers and me that “the biggest room in our house is the room for improvement.” My parents instilled in me the value of being a lifelong learner and owning my growth and development.

This focus leads me to join INROADS – a career development organization connecting diverse students to corporate career opportunities – as a high school student and by my sophomore year in undergrad, I was introduced to corporate America through their internship program. After two successful summers, I received an offer the fall semester of my senior year to join the organization. I decided to bypass law school and went on to spend 12 years at the premier pharmaceutical company leading people and projects in sales, marketing, and key D&I initiatives through our women and Black employee resource groups (ERGs.) As often the youngest and only Black woman in the room for most of my corporate career, I learned that image and exposure (personal branding) are the most critical components of career advancement. Performance is the price of admission, but to really play the game and elevate to higher levels people need to see, know, like, and trust you. You are a brand, and if you aren’t branding yourself then you’re giving permission for someone else to do it for you.

Through navigating countless crucial conversations, microaggressions, emails, and feedback meetings after not getting the job, I learned some hard lessons that empowered me to do three things:
• Own my brilliance and stop compartmentalizing (hiding) who I was at work.
• Own my career and create the opportunities I was seeking to go from barely surviving to boldly thriving.
• Own my development to learn how to build a business while working at one.

About ten years into my corporate career, I started my entrepreneurship journey. I launched an image consulting business (STYLE by Britt), empowering women to elevate their look and leadership to reach their career goals. As my clientele grew and my career advanced with relocation and more responsibility, I made a pivot out of fashion and into coaching and speaking. My love of developing, empowering, and equipping people to thrive in their career was fueled through much of the work I was doing within the ERGs in my 9-5 and was aligned with my speaking and coaching side hustle. As I took on more speaking opportunities – keynotes, workshops, training, and panels – and worked with more coaching clients, it became clear that there was ample opportunity to do more and be more in this space. So, last year I rebranded my company to Career Thrivers and took the leap from full-time employee to full-time entrepreneur! Career Thrivers is an inclusive leadership development firm that partners with organizations to help cultivate an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive. We also help women and professionals of color advance their career by creating a strategic plan around your personal brand so you are attracting opportunities aligned with your purpose and strengths.

Has it been a smooth road?
Most of the pivotal moments I’ve experienced have been connected to a loss. Often it’s when we’re experiencing change, transition, or challenge that we get a clearer picture of our truest priorities. One of those moments that has rocked me the most has been the death of my mother. Three months after accepting a career promotion and relocating to NYC, she died. I made the move in March of 2017, with her full support and excitement. She was in good health and making plans for an extended visit that summer, and on June 5th, she was gone. So much changed for me on and after that day. She was my chief cheerleader in everything, so I struggled with wanting to do anything for some time. However, what I’m most grateful for learning through this loss is how to take off the mask and rest the cape that I was taught to wear throughout my corporate career. That adage that many of us live by of being twice as good can sometimes keep us in this endless cycle of performance and achievement that can be detrimental to our mental health, especially when we’re living with loss. We don’t have to pretend we’re strong to show that we’re brave, worthy, or capable. I have a new appreciation for what it means to really be resilient as you journey forward in new ways. Real resilience isn’t about bouncing back. Deep loss changes you, and the way you thrive through it is in how your journey forward.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Many companies currently are struggling to engage, develop, and retain their Black and brown colleagues. Despite having a diverse workforce, many leadership teams within organizations look the same. Career Thrivers partners with organizations that are looking to operationalize their diversity and inclusion commitments by developing inclusive leaders and equipping diverse talent to thrive in their careers. I serve clients as a speaker, coach, and consulting in this space specializing in four areas of leadership: inclusion, resilience, personal branding, and communication. In working 1:1 with coaching clients, I’m known for helping high achieving professionals and entrepreneurs create a strategic plan around their personal brand that will increase their visibility, influence, and impact to attract the career opportunities they want. When it comes to personal branding, I bring a wealth of corporate and personal experience to my work with a focus on implementation and accountability to reach the goals my clients set. As it relates to DEI, one attribute that sets me apart is that I have a business background. So my lens for helping companies cultivate an inclusive culture is tied to leveraging differences to create business value in an integrated, company-wide approach that includes and extends beyond human resources.

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Image Credit:

Drea Nicole, Hanna Capps

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