From Intern to Financial Powerhouse: Mellody Hobson Will Inspire You

Business and financial powerhouse Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments is being honored tonight with the Executive Leadership Council‘s 2023 Achievement Award.

In her role at Ariel Investments, Hobson is responsible for management, strategic planning and growth for all areas of the company exclusive of research and portfolio management. In 2021, she co-founded Ariel Alternatives, a private equity firm and home to Ariel’s Project Black Fund. The $1.45 billion fund is focused on creating minority-owned businesses of scale, and seeking to provide Fortune 500 companies with diverse vendors.

“The mission of The ELC and its members to develop our future leaders and help them reach their highest potential is tantamount to changing the Black experience in corporate America,” Hobson said. “I am pleased to receive this recognition. The mission of The ELC dovetails with my personal mission to close the wealth gap from the entry level to the boardroom.”

Outside of her work with Ariel, Hobson serves on various boards in both a professional and philanthropic capacity, including Chairwoman of the Board of Starbucks Corporation and as a director of JPMorgan Chase. Previously, she served as Chairman of DreamWorks Animation, helping to facilitate the company’s sale in 2016 and was a long-standing board member of the Estée Lauder Companies.

In her philanthropic endeavors, Hobson is a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy and is a committed advocate for education and the arts. As part of her community outreach she serves as chairman of After School Matters, a Chicago non-profit that provides area teens with high-quality after school and summer programs; vice chair of World Business Chicago; co-chair of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art; and a board member of the George Lucas Education Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. She also serves on the board at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Mellody is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees, and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute.

Hobson’s career spans more than three decades, beginning at Ariel Investments with a summer internship, then a full-time role after she graduated from Princeton in 1991. Ariel founder, John W. Rogers, Jr. met Hobson as a student and recognized her charisma and enthusiasm, leading to a long partnership. In 2019, she was appointed Co-CEO of Ariel alongside Rogers. Hobson has received recognition from dozens of organizations including being named to TIME Magazine’s 2015 TIME 100 List and one of the World Economic Forum’s “Global Leaders of Tomorrow” in 2001.

Here are some inspiring takeaways from Hobson that we collected from her best media interviews:

  1. Embrace Your Uniqueness: Mellody often emphasizes recognizing and embracing your unique qualities and perspectives as a woman entrepreneur. Your diverse experiences can be your greatest strength in business.
  2. Never Stop Learning: Hobson advocates for continuous learning. She believes staying curious and open to new knowledge and experiences is vital for personal and professional growth.
  3. Build a Strong Support System: Surround yourself with a network of mentors, advisors, and peers who can provide guidance, support, and valuable insights. Building these relationships can be instrumental in your entrepreneurial journey.
  4. Don’t Fear Failure: Hobson encourages women entrepreneurs not to fear failure. Instead, they view failures as opportunities for growth and learning. Resilience and perseverance are vital qualities that can help you overcome challenges.
  5. Financial Literacy Is Essential: Understanding your finances is crucial for making informed business decisions. Hobson stresses the importance of financial literacy and encourages women to take control of their financial futures.
  6. Set Clear Goals: Clearly define your goals and create a roadmap. A clear vision and direction can help you stay focused and motivated in your business or personal life.
  7. Diversity & Inclusion Matter: Hobson strongly advocates for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She believes that diverse teams lead to better decision-making and innovation. As a woman entrepreneur, consider diversity to be a core value in your business.
  8. Take Calculated Risks: While caution is essential, don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. Hobson encourages women to step out of their comfort zones and seize opportunities that align with their goals.
  9. Lead with Confidence: Confidence is a critical factor in leadership. Believe in your entrepreneurial abilities and vision, and others will follow suit.
  10. Pay It Forward: Hobson often talks about giving back to your community and helping others succeed. As you grow in your entrepreneurial journey, consider how you can mentor and support other women in business.

Remember that Hobson’s advice is rooted in her humble beginnings, extensive experience and success in finance and business. Glow Girls: we hope that incorporating these principles into your entrepreneurial journey can help you navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and achieve your goals as a woman entrepreneur.


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Norma Ramirez

Norma Ramirez is a marketing and media relations assistant at Glow Stream TV.

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