Angelina Darrisaw, is the founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach, a firm that offers expertly designed professional development and coaching programs for working professionals and small business leaders. C-Suite Coach has staffed coaches and provided training programs for Google, Major League Baseball, NYU's Veteran Lab Accelerator, Zendesk, Oscar Health, Year Up, Omnicom, SEO, THowardF, and many others.
C-Suite Coach is a preferred supplier for Google, with contracts ranging from Supplier Diversity consulting, content design for racial equity programs and servicing Black & Latinx small businesses by supporting Google’s efforts in bridging the digital divide through tactical digital skills training. As a part of this work, C-Suite Coach staffs and manages 20 coaches who have offered free coaching and resources to over 60,000 US-based Black and LatinX small businesses through more than 900 programs across the US since 2018.
These efforts helped Angelina earn Walker’s Legacy Power25 award in 2017, the "Innovators & Disruptors: Diversity & Inclusion Award" presented by New York On Tech and NBC Universal, the Year Up Urban Empowerment Award in 2018, and the Digital Diversity Network 2019 Innovation and Inclusion for social entrepreneurship.
Angelina was recently included in Black Enterprise's 2021 40 Under 40 List.
Q: What's your background, and what are you working on?
I received my B.A. in Political Science from Davidson University and my M.A. in management from Wake Forest University. After graduation, I started working at ESPN. Within a year, I began to climb the corporate ladder, and two years later, I was making a six-figure salary. While I was very excited about my growth and role in the company, I noticed that I was the only person in the room who looked like myself and that the c-suite was not reflective of the actual workforce whatsoever.
When we launched our company in 2015, our vision was to make career advancement and equity in the workplace accessible for all. In June 2020, we saw a substantial increase in demand for coaching for diverse talent from large companies and decided it was time to return to our original mission and pilot our first B2C project. We are launching the C-Suite Coach Network in mid June! This coaching program will include highly vetted and skilled executive coaches from diverse backgrounds. It will amplify our one-to-one coaching opportunities by providing transformative experiences for diverse working professionals and small business owners. Interested clients can submit here.
Q: What motivated you to get started with C-Suite Coach?
I was in a very successful role, but saw ceilings and challenges for people of color. At the time, I worked with a career coach who helped me clarify what I could do to promote social justice. I wanted to provide tools and resources to individuals, regardless of means or economic background, to make the C-Suite more reflective of the actual workforce. All these intelligent, unique, inspirational individuals out there don't have the resources readily available to help them level up, and I wanted to be a part of bridging that gap. That is why I started C-Suite Coach.
Q: How have you attracted clients and grown your firm?
Recently with the shift of COVID, I had to take a step back and invest in the growth of my business. We were doing a lot of in-person events pre-pandemic, and of course, that could not continue in 2020. We had to essentially shift our focus on what potential clients need and focus on my business strategy. I hired a strategic consultant and worked with Interise to identify holes in my business and fixed them. Fixing the holes and word of mouth allowed me to scale up my business and attract more clients.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
My goals for C-Suite Coach are to continue to scale our business. We pride ourselves on our programs with large companies that create programming to deliver free resources to small Black and Latinx businesses. Through our work, we've staffed coaches and provided training programs for Google, Major League Baseball, NYU's Veteran Lab Accelerator, Zendesk, Oscar Health, Year Up, Omnicom, SEO, Howard, and many others for over 60,000 people. We want to continue to do that work on a larger scale in addition to launching the C-Suite Coach Network this quarter.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?
In February 2019, my marriage ended abruptly, and that was a turning point for me financially. The rug had been pulled from underneath me, and I thought I would have to close my business. Instead, that year, I earned $1M in revenue.
If 2020 taught us one thing, it is that we have to prepare ourselves to be ready to pivot as needed. It's far from easy, but having the flexibility to make changes to one's plan is key to sustaining a crisis. With 2021 here, we should focus our attention on the challenges coming our way and how to convert them into opportunities. It's vital that even amid challenges, use strategic thinking to shift your mindset and make room for opportunities. Okay, that company said no, but ask yourself, if not this, then what?
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
My number one advice is always to keep your customer in mind. Ask yourself, what is the problem that needs to be solved right now? Where can I fit in as a part of the solution? When you are an entrepreneur, sometimes you only focus on the idea, but those ideas have to serve an audience to form a business. Where does this fit into something a consumer would want?
My other advice would be, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good." Sometimes we wait for everything to be perfect. We may wait for the perfect amount of savings, the perfect amount of preparation, the perfect amount of experience. The truth is if we wait for perfection, we will always be waiting. Just go for it.