Netflix named Bozoma Saint John its new chief marketing officer on June 30, 2020, making her the third CMO for the company in 2019–2020.
She is the first Black C-level executive at Netflix. Saint John replaced Jackie Lee-Joe, who left the company for personal reasons. Saint John started the new role in August 2020.
The podcast began with the focus of how small and large businesses across the country began to reopen throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but after the killing of George Floyd expanded to focus also on systemic racism and criminal justice reform.
Her podcast is one of the many voices that is speaking against issues that are affecting societal growth.
Activism, advising, and philanthropy
Saint John launched the #ShareTheMicNow Instagram initiative alongside Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Glennon Doyle, and Stacey Bendet. On June 10, 2020, 52 Black women took over the Instagram feeds of 52 white women with large platforms to draw attention to the work they’re doing in order to catalyze change. Saint John took over the Instagram account of Kourtney Kardashian, and other Black women including Elaine Welteroth, Angelica Ross, and Gia Peppers took over the accounts of white women including Julia Roberts, Elizabeth Warren, and Diane von Fürstenberg.
Saint John’s philanthropic efforts include representing Pencils of Promise as a Global Ambassador to Ghana and serving on the boards of Girls Who Code and Vital Voices. Saint John has been a member of the President’s Advisory Council for Wesleyan University, her alma mater. She is also a member of the Black Advisory Board for Impact. an initiative by the Council of Fashion Designers of America to address systematic exclusion of Black people in the fashion industry.
Saint John is writing a memoir titled The Urgent Life, in which she describes her work as a marketing executive as well as losing her husband and becoming a single parent during that time. It will be published in 2022 by Viking Press.
With all these successes in the year 2020, the Akwaaba Committee finds Bozoma a Woman of Excellence 2020. She never allowed the pandemic to slow her down but rather focused on how to help make this world a better place.
Ayekoo…Woman of Excellence. A class of 2020
Her Life Story
Bozoma Arthur was born to Rev. Dr. Appianda Arthur and Aba Arthur (née Enim) in Middletown, Connecticut in the United States, and the family moved to Ghana when she was six months old. In her early childhood, her family also lived in Nairobi, Kenya and Washington, D.C.
They returned to the United States and settled in Colorado Springs, Colorado when she was 12. Her father was a clarinet player and member of the Ghana Army before emigrating to the United States to attend graduate school. Saint John cites her father as her biggest inspiration. In 1999, Saint John graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in English and African-American Studies. Her father received a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology in 1977, also from Wesleyan.
After college, Saint John worked at the advertising agencies Arnold Worldwide and Spike Lee’s Spike DDB. She also worked at the fashion brand Ashley Stewart, where she was vice president of marketing.
Saint John joined PepsiCo as a senior marketing manager in 2005. She later led PepsiCo’s foray into music festival-based marketing as head of music and entertainment marketing. She remained with the company for almost a decade before joining Beats Music in 2014, when Jimmy Iovine of Beats recruited Saint John based on her experience in music marketing.
Saint John moved from New York to Los Angeles to lead marketing for the company.
Beats was purchased shortly thereafter by Apple and Saint John became the head of global consumer marketing for iTunes and Apple Music, commuting between Los Angeles and Apple’s Cupertino headquarters several times a week.
Journalists described Saint John’s presentation of the redesigned Apple Music onstage during the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference as her breakthrough moment, with a captivating “passion” and persona that captivated both local and online audiences.
Biz Carson of Business Insider said that her appearance helped to emphasize Apple’s complete rebuild of its Apple Music software. BuzzFeed wrote that she was the “coolest” person to ever take the stage at an Apple keynote.
On June 6, 2017, Saint John became chief brand officer at Uber.
In June 2018, Saint John left Uber to join Endeavor as chief marketing officer. She said of her choice to leave: “When I got to Uber I was honest in my desire to go and change essentially what I thought was a challenging environment, especially for women and for people of colour… What I discovered was a lot of people who had a desire to do better, honestly, but couldn’t get out of their own way… At some point it became too overwhelming for me… It became a good lesson for all of us: You don’t need to be the savior, you can save yourself too.” While at Endeavor, Saint John helped lead a “crisis” branding project for Papa John’s Pizza after the company’s founder, John Schnatter, used racist language in a conference call.