Featuring a broad cross-section of women who have distinguished themselves across a rich variety of careers, our Portraits of Power series is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Black Enterprise, and of black women. It’s a place for today’s businesswomen to share their own favorite images and their own stories, in their own words. Today’s portrait is Susan Chapman-Hughes, an executive vice president at American Express and its global head of digital capabilities, transformation, and operations.
EVP/Global Head of Digital Capabilities, Transformation, and Operations, American Express
Nickname: I don’t do nicknames
My first ever job was as a candy stripper in a hospital, but my first real job was as a city planner in Knoxville, Tennessee.
My big break came when I was featured in BLACK ENTERPRISE’s inaugural 40 under 40 when I was the head of international real estate for level 3. This gave me amazing exposure for the work that I’d been doing that I wasn’t currently visible for—plus I was on the same page with Jay-Z and Diddy!
I’ve worked hardest at creating opportunities and connections for other people by leveraging and building my network. I’m always looking for ways to bring people to the table.
I never imagined I would lead a global digital team. I grew up in the real estate industry, so while I always had a passion for tech, I never thought it would be my job.
I wish I’d learned about corporate America sooner. The circumstances I had growing up, I didn’t even know what corporate America was let alone what to expect, so I had to learn about it as I was introduced to it. I wish I had learned the rules sooner to help me navigate more effectively over the years.
The risk I regret not taking is … none! I’ve taken a lot of risks over the years, and there is no way I’d be sitting in the seat I’m sitting in now if I hadn’t taken the risks I took.
If I could design my fantasy self-care day, it would be spent sleeping until 10, working out, joking with my 4-year-old, getting a massage, eating great food, and learning something new.
Nothing keeps me up at night. I make it a point not to worry about things. I can only control what I can control, and I manage my reaction to everything else as it comes along.
When I’m struggling, I say to myself: I write myself a note of encouragement, remind myself to get some sleep, and try again the next day. I’m usually struggling because I’m tired.
I am unapologetically Susan Chapman-Hughes! I wear my hair naturally, I don’t own a two-piece suit. I try to be myself all the time. Who you see on the weekend is the same person you see during the week.
Portraits of Power is a yearlong series of candid insights from exceptional women leaders. It is brought to you by ADP.