No One Can Take Your Dream Away

I started my career in investment banking in New York City more than 15 years ago. To say that there were not many faces that looked like mine—as a woman and as a woman of color—would be an understatement. That fact did not deter me from pursuing the goals I had set for myself at an early age. I wanted to be the best, and I knew that it meant I had to prove myself, not only against my peers, but also against the preconceived notions that came with my gender and the color of my skin.

As a young black female, the cards were stacked against me. I had to work harder, show up stronger, and always have the correct answers, in order to hold my seat at the table and my rung on the corporate ladder. I dedicated myself to my work. While working closely with several chief financial officers and taking companies public during my banking days, I realized my passion and focused on becoming a CFO.

After holding several management roles in corporate finance, I had a development conversation with one of my managers. I told him I would be a CFO by the age of 40. The skepticism in his face said it all. Let’s just say his reaction made it clear that he thought it was an overly ambitious goal. That discussion took place when I was 30 years old. Five years, later, I became CFO of a company generating nearly $800 million in revenue.

Today, I am the CFO of e.l.f. Beauty, a public company, where I have continued to increase my financial prowess as I evolve as a leader in the organization. Under my leadership, and that of our amazing executive team, e.l.f. Beauty has seen positive net sales growth for five consecutive quarters. It makes me incredibly proud.

My takeaway for all aspiring leaders is to: Stay focused on what you want to achieve, regardless of what others believe and regardless of the challenges you may need to overcome. Hard work, strong performance, and supportive mentors will help pave the way for you. If you believe you can achieve it, no one can take your dream away from you.