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Black Business Leaders That Inspire Us

Black Business Leaders That Inspire Us

The stories that tell us how business leaders achieved their success are often fascinating and inspiring.

We can’t help but want to do better ourselves when we look at great leaders who have defied the odds and overcome obstacles, often while starting from humble beginnings, to reach great heights.

And great business leaders don’t just reach the summit, but they help lift others up with them.

While celebrating Black History Month, we wanted to highlight invaluable contributions made by prominent Black business leaders who have achieved magnificent success and offered so much to our society.

Rosalind Brewer

Rosalind Brewer is a trailblazing Black business leader who rose from being a first-generation college student and the daughter of GM assembly line workers to assume executive roles with some of the world’s largest and most preeminent corporations.

In March of 2021, Brewer became the only Black woman to lead an S&P 500 company when she started as the Chief Executive Officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, where she is also a director on the company's board. A four-year stint as the Chief Operating Officer and Group President at Starbucks preceded her Walgreen’s appointment, where she implemented policy changes and racial bias training for employees.

Prior to joining Starbucks, Ms. Brewer was President and Chief Executive Officer of Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart, Inc., from February 2012 to February 2017. She also held several executive leadership positions at Walmart and helped modernize services, including the advance of ordering groceries online. [1]

Before joining Walmart, she was the President of Global Nonwovens Divison for the Kimberly-Clark Corporation from 2004 to 2006, where she began as a chemist and held multiple management positions since 1984.

Ms. Brewer is ranked sixth on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and was named one of Financial Times’s 25 Most Influential Women last year. [1]

She is the chairperson of the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, Spelman College, and is a board member of VIllageMD, World Business Chicago, Business Roundtable, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

In 2019, she became the only Black woman to sit on Amazon's board of directors and has also served on the boards for Starbucks, Lockheed Martin, and Molson Coors Brewing. [2]

Robert F. Smith

The son of two parents with doctorate of education degrees, Robert F. Smith has become one of America’s most prominent Black business leaders as the founder, chair, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, one of the top-performing private equity firms in the world.

Mr. Smith earned his bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University in 1985 and went on to work at Kraft Foods and Goodyear Tire, where he obtained several patents for coffee filtration systems. He went on to earn his MBA at Columbia University in 1994 and was the president of the Black Business Students’ Association and president of the Japan Business Association there.

After receiving his MBA, Mr. Smith joined Goldman Sachs in tech investment banking, where he executed over $50 billion in merger and acquisition activities. He founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000 to invest in software and technology businesses to promote economic equality, ecological responsibility, and diversity and inclusion for the prosperity of all. [3]

Renowned for his philanthropic efforts, Mr. Smith is the founding director and president of the Fund II Foundation, which raises money and advocate for numerous causes. In 2016, Mr. Smith contributed $20 million to Cornell’s engineering program and $10 million to African Americans and women scholarships. He also vowed to wipe out the student debt of Morehouse College’s 2019 graduating class during a commencement address at the school. [4]

TIME magazine recognized Mr. Smith as one of the 100 most influential people in 2020. Mr. Smith also received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2019, and was named to the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds by Forbes in 2017. He has also garnered numerous other recognitions for his business achievements and philanthropic work while serving as chairman and board member with multiple organizations.


If you are looking to become the next great business leader or simply seeking to get your endeavor off the ground or grow your current operation, Visa Business Plans can help! Reach out to us to see how we can equip you to achieve your business and investment goals.

Visa Business Plans is led by Marco Scanu, a certified coach from the University of Miami with a globally-based practice coaching Fortune 1000 company executives, entrepreneurs, as well as professionals in 4 different continents. Mr. Scanu advises clients on turnaround strategies and crisis management.

Mr. Scanu received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from the University of Florida and an MBA in Management from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Mr. Scanu was also a Visiting Scholar at Michigan State University under the prestigious H. Humphrey Fellowship (Fulbright program) with a focus on Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, and high-growth enterprises.

At present, Mr. Scanu is the managing partner and CEO at Visa Business Plans, a Miami-based boutique consulting firm providing attorneys and investors with business planning services in the areas of U.S. and Canadian immigration, SBA loans, and others.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/profile/rosalind-brewer/?sh=6126b2a631d1

[2] https://www.vistaequitypartners.com/about/team/robert-f-smith/

[3] https://www.forbes.com/profile/robert-f-smith/?sh=30d48ccc2236