Apple Music marketing exec Bozoma Saint John talks diversity in new interview

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2016
Bozoma Saint John, global marketing executive for Apple Music and iTunes, took part in a brief interview as part of Fortune's Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference on Tuesday, offering those in attendance a lesson in self-confidence she learned as a teenager.




Speaking to Fortune, Saint John recalled how at the age of about 13 she emigrated from Ghana to Colorado Springs, Colo., with her parents and three younger sisters. The life changing experience forced her to embrace who she was, a realization that helped pave a road for success, first at Pepsi, then Beats and now at Apple.

Saint John said her stature (she was about the same height at 13 as she is now) and skin color effectively deflated any attempt to fit in among her peers. This ultimately turned out to be a blessing, however.

"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 lesson was an important one for Saint John, who bears her diverse background as a virtue, not a hinderance.

"Because at 13, I 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.

The message echoes an Apple initiative to celebrate diversity among its employees by creating an all-inclusive workplace. According to a recent EEO-1 filing, the company has a long way to go for its upper echelons reach an equilibrium between white males and underrepresented minorities -- at least by government measures -- but progress is being made.

Known to friends as "Boz," Saint John became part of the Apple team when the company purchased Beats Music in 2014. Initially a behind-the-scenes operator, Saint John recently came to the fore thanks to a memorable onstage presentation at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

The executive has since become a corporate ambassador of sorts for Apple Music, and even found herself in an Apple Music ad alongside SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, Jimmy Iovine and James Corden.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    That's a very nice choice of photo...
    perkedelrepressthis
  • Reply 2 of 34
    Seriously. She's a beautiful woman in many ways and THATS the photo you use? Would you want someone to do that to YOU?

    come on, man. 

    Im sure she's a breath of fresh air st Apple. And not because of her ethnicity. Because she's an amazing human being. look up her life. A genuinely good person in a world full of fakes, liars, and wolves. 

    I hope she is blessed much in her career and her life. 
    edited November 2016 canukstormmacxpresswilliamhdasanman69perkedelthinkman@chartermi.netrepressthisdysamoriaration aljony0
  • Reply 3 of 34
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,461member
    If that's a photo from the conference then that's probably the most topical one to use. Yes, the picture doesn't do her justice, but that's just how it goes, and I speak as someone who is about as photogenic as a week-old zombie. 
    danielchowdasanman69
  • Reply 4 of 34
    No dude. Sorry. There are plenty more very current photos to use. At least AI updated to a slightly better one. 
  • Reply 5 of 34
    I don't get it. I don't know/care who she is, as I'm sure most do. I'm ok with not being with the majority of thoughts and opinions on here, but dang man, I thought Apple was a Technology company. I guess Apple is deciding to go with fame,fashion,and designer names and brands rather than innovating, and tech. I remember the days when Apple was the counter culture. :neutral: Oh well. At least they make wonderful phones and tablets. 
    mike1techprod1gyMetriacanthosaurusdamn_its_hot
  • Reply 6 of 34
    I don't get what's so special about this woman. Sure she might be better than Eddy Cue on stage but that's not saying much.
    gtrmike1
  • Reply 7 of 34
    irelandireland Posts: 17,474member
    Nothing wrong with the photo.
    cali
  • Reply 8 of 34
    Good! Bring it on, Apple - we need more people like her and Tim!
    calipaxmanrepressthisdysamoria
  • Reply 9 of 34
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    I don't get what's so special about this woman. Sure she might be better than Eddy Cue on stage but that's not saying much.
    Everyone is better than Cue according to you but this girl also came from Beats. 

    Seems youre in quite a pickle....
    Rayz2016perkedelrepressthisstantheman
  • Reply 10 of 34
    digitol said:
    I don't get it. I don't know/care who she is, as I'm sure most do. I'm ok with not being with the majority of thoughts and opinions on here, but dang man, I thought Apple was a Technology company. I guess Apple is deciding to go with fame,fashion,and designer names and brands rather than innovating, and tech. I remember the days when Apple was the counter culture. :neutral: Oh well. At least they make wonderful phones and tablets. 

    She's global marketing executive for Apple Music and iTunes. 

    APPLE MUSIC AND ITUNES marketing. MARKETING *for* those SERVICES. 

    A marketing position is required for certain tech-related services. That run on technology. Apple technology. 

    Hope that clears things up. 
    macxpressperkedelrepressthisdysamoriastantheman
  • Reply 11 of 34
    Nothing like picking the worst still frames from a video to use. 

    Seriously, I'm no fan and was a bit put off by parts of her demo at wwdc but I think she, as anyone would, deserves better than this. 
    mike1perkedelrepressthis
  • Reply 12 of 34
    digitol said:
    I don't get it. I don't know/care who she is, as I'm sure most do. I'm ok with not being with the majority of thoughts and opinions on here, but dang man, I thought Apple was a Technology company. I guess Apple is deciding to go with fame,fashion,and designer names and brands rather than innovating, and tech. I remember the days when Apple was the counter culture. :neutral: Oh well. At least they make wonderful phones and tablets. 
    You show a massive ignorance then.

    In ADDITION to the tech side, Apple has a little* Fortune 100 operation called Services (i.e. iTunes essentially.)

    * I didn't check but IIRC Services is significantly bigger than the Mac business and is growing while Mac is shrinking. 
    caliperkedelrepressthisdysamoria
  • Reply 13 of 34
    mobiusmobius Posts: 376member
    That's a very nice choice of photo...
    Seriously. She's a beautiful woman in many ways and THATS the photo you use? Would you want someone to do that to YOU?

    come on, man. 

    Im sure she's a breath of fresh air st Apple. And not because of her ethnicity. Because she's an amazing human being. look up her life. A genuinely good person in a world full of fakes, liars, and wolves. 

    I hope she is blessed much in her career and her life. 
    Rayz2016 said:
    If that's a photo from the conference then that's probably the most topical one to use. Yes, the picture doesn't do her justice, but that's just how it goes, and I speak as someone who is about as photogenic as a week-old zombie. 
    No dude. Sorry. There are plenty more very current photos to use. At least AI updated to a slightly better one. 
    Nothing like picking the worst still frames from a video to use. 

    Seriously, I'm no fan and was a bit put off by parts of her demo at wwdc but I think she, as anyone would, deserves better than this. 
    I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what all of you are complaining about. I must be looking at a different photo because, I see nothing wrong with it. It's a nice photo of a beautiful woman. Also, why are you so obsessed with a single photograph on a tech site anyway?
    calilordjohnwhorfin
  • Reply 14 of 34
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,965member
    I don't get what's so special about this woman. Sure she might be better than Eddy Cue on stage but that's not saying much.
    That she's a woman, that she is dark skin black, that she immigrated from Ghana, that she worked hard, and had to overcome a lot of adversity to get where she's at. 


    edited November 2016 perkedellordjohnwhorfinrepressthisdysamoriamacguiration al
  • Reply 15 of 34
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,675member
    digitol said:
    I don't get it. I don't know/care who she is, as I'm sure most do. I'm ok with not being with the majority of thoughts and opinions on here, but dang man, I thought Apple was a Technology company. I guess Apple is deciding to go with fame,fashion,and designer names and brands rather than innovating, and tech. I remember the days when Apple was the counter culture. :neutral: Oh well. At least they make wonderful phones and tablets. 
    How can a purely "technology company" be "counter-culture"? 

    The very assertion implies that they weren't just a box manufacturer, but transported a cultural element, some sort of spirit - which, of course, they always have. 

    I think you *do* get it; you're just pining for the old days when Apple was the underdog, rather than defining the mainstream. 
    calirepressthisdysamoria
  • Reply 16 of 34
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,965member
    That is indeed a bad photo. Do a image search, and you'll see that she's quite beautiful. 
    perkedelrepressthisdysamoria
  • Reply 17 of 34
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,471member
    digitol said:
    I don't get it. I don't know/care who she is, as I'm sure most do. I'm ok with not being with the majority of thoughts and opinions on here, but dang man, I thought Apple was a Technology company. I guess Apple is deciding to go with fame,fashion,and designer names and brands rather than innovating, and tech. I remember the days when Apple was the counter culture. :neutral: Oh well. At least they make wonderful phones and tablets. 
    "I don't get it" is the operant phrase here, like with Rogifan above.

    I got news for you. The counterculture in part grew out of the civil rights movement. It was never "neutral" on what we now call diversity. A little backward on gender equality on a conceptual level, maybe. But there was at least one woman on the original Macintosh project, for example. 

    And like Quadra says, her technology is in music marketing. Get itt?
    calisphericlordjohnwhorfinrepressthisdysamoria
  • Reply 18 of 34
    "Executive."


  • Reply 19 of 34
    I don't get what's so special about this woman. Sure she might be better than Eddy Cue on stage but that's not saying much.
    That she's a woman, that she is dark skin black, that she immigrated from Ghana, that she worked hard, and had to overcome a lot of adversity to get where she's at. 


    Plenty of white males work hard and overcome adversity. But that doesn't satisfy forced diversity goals. With the completely unprofessional movement to forcibly diversify company executive positions, how can we ever look at a person like this and believe they got this job because they were the best person for the job?

    I have ZERO knowledge or information on this woman save for one instance...she got to speak at an Apple event. The person I saw speak did not sound like an executive. She sounded like some dope they grabbed out of a shopping mall and shove out on stage. So with that being my only basis for evaluation, and the fact that I know Apple is forcing diversity into as many token positions as possible...I can't take her seriously at all.

    I'm not speaking from some malicious position. I'm just calling it as it is. She is a black African immigrant woman, holding a top executive position at a US company. She got that job because either 1) out of every imaginable candidate she was the right one to head up Apple Music, or 2) because she's a black African immigrant woman and that ticks a ton of diversity boxes in one shot for Apple.

    Which do you think is more likely in today's climate?
    Which do you think is more likely after having heard her speak?
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 20 of 34
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,675member
    I don't get what's so special about this woman. Sure she might be better than Eddy Cue on stage but that's not saying much.
    That she's a woman, that she is dark skin black, that she immigrated from Ghana, that she worked hard, and had to overcome a lot of adversity to get where she's at. 


    Plenty of white males work hard and overcome adversity. But that doesn't satisfy forced diversity goals. With the completely unprofessional movement to forcibly diversify company executive positions, how can we ever look at a person like this and believe they got this job because they were the best person for the job?

    I have ZERO knowledge or information on this woman save for one instance...she got to speak at an Apple event. The person I saw speak did not sound like an executive. She sounded like some dope they grabbed out of a shopping mall and shove out on stage. So with that being my only basis for evaluation, and the fact that I know Apple is forcing diversity into as many token positions as possible...I can't take her seriously at all.
    We all have our problems, I suppose. 
    dysamoriamacgui
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