Apple Music's 'Head Diva' Bozoma Saint John Speaks at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit

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Apple Music global marketing executive Bozoma Saint John gave a brief interview at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit on Tuesday where she spoke about how self-confidence was crucial in her rise to prominence at Cupertino.

Known as "Boz" to her friends, Saint John joined the Apple team when the company acquired Beats Music in 2014. After her fun and memorable on-stage demonstration of the new Apple Music features at WWDC 2016 – not to mention her appearance in a recent Apple Music ad alongside senior Apple VP Eddy Cue – she has since become the recognized "head diva" for Apple's music services.

Bozoma_Saint_John
Emigrating from Ghana to Colorado at the age of 13, Saint John told technology reporter Leena K Rao that her height for such a young age and her skin color made it all but impossible to hide amongst her peers, but it taught her early on the importance of self-confidence.

"I couldn't hide, there wasn't a choice to do that," Saint John said. "So the choice was do you try to do what everybody else was doing? I couldn't be blond, I couldn't be white. I just couldn't be anything else, and so it meant that I had to become just all of everything that I have."


The experience of moving to the U.S. as a child meant that she embraced who she was early on, she said, which helped put her on course for success, beginning at Pepsi, moving on to join Beats, and now finding herself at Apple. At 13, she said she learned what it meant to walk into a room and "not care when everybody else turned around" and looked at you. "And here I am," she said.

Top Rated Comments

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48 months ago
Yep I'm sure the reason Apple hired her was to fill a diversity quota. Nothing to do with the fact that she already excelled in her career and was in an existing executive role at Beats pre-takeover. :rolleyes:
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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48 months ago
She's so powerful that you could even hear the crickets trying to rap along to Sugarhill Gang when she tried to get the developers to "rap along" at WWDC.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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48 months ago
Oh Lordy. First of all she is NOT playing any kind of victim. How on earth did anyone get that impression?

Any women on this thread? Okay here it is from a woman's perspective...girls in most cultures, but even our allegedly progressive western one, are generally not encouraged to stick out from the crowd too much, but be a part of it. Oh, sure we may pay lip service to empowering girls and encouraging their individuality. But as a woman myself and the mother and aunt to girls, I can say when a girl actually does try to make some waves or be a lone wolf who dances to the beat of her own drum, a lot of the attention that comes her way is negative. Some of it subtle, some not so subtle.

In terms of appearances, tall women get mixed messages. On the one hand they are encouraged to be or are compared to fashion models if they are attractive. If they are not conventionally attractive but just really tall, they get some unflattering comments and nicknames. I say this as someone barely over five feet tall who has seen what my tall sisters put up with.

Ms. Saint John is merely stating that she arrived to the US from Ghana with her obvious racial and cultural and physical differences forcing her to stand out in a society where women are subtly encouraged to blend in and run in packs. She is saying there was never an option of blending in or fitting in. So she had to work with what she had and defy conventional expectations for what makes a woman able to navigate our society and just power her way through as her unique self. Some seem bent on interpreting this as hubris. I see it as truth.

The fact that she's where she's at despite being so very different is very inspiring. I think she can also inspire boys and young men who are also different and unique. Any successful person can inspire anybody if they find a message that resonates with others.

She was not a "diversity hire", as was already pointed out here. And why on earth is it that whenever we see a woman or a minority in a position of power and influence do we automatically assume on this forum that they were hired for their race or gender and not credentials or education or accomplishments?

Conversely there are so many incompetent and ineffective white male executives out there...why does no one ever think to question how such berks ended up at the levels they attained?

Don't get your knickers in a twist when people cry "white privilege" if your knee jerk reaction to seeing a successful woman or minority is to scream "diversity hire."
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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48 months ago
Another victim of "white oppression" who benefit from everything that the "white men" invented. Show some gratitude instead of perpetuating racism.

It doesn't matter how good she is. Articles like this makes her look like she's there to fill quotas. Specially all this "diversity" campaign.

What about showing her achievements instead of playing victim?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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48 months ago

Puke. Sums up why Apple are losing it - focussed on all the wrong things. I mean, "head diva" ffs.

It's pretty obviously a casual nickname, but I wonder, do you have the same reaction to the years of "Hair Force One" jokes, or is his coiffure sufficiently, shall we say, non-curly for your tastes?
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Can't help but think she was hired, in large part, because she's black. When I hear her speak I'm not overly impressed. Apple would, unconsciously, make a hire like this due to their PC nature.

Even a tiny amount of research into her background and role prior to Apple would explain why she has her job, but it's much easier for you to imply that she's not qualified because she don't speak the way you like.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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48 months ago
I hate to bring up an overused line, but I really don't think Steve would have embraced giving someone a "head diva" role on the team while he was steering the ship.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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