Inspired By: Natalie Madeira Cofield
“As a young professional woman who is often the youngest, the youngest woman, and the youngest woman of color, my key to success is to think of each of these not as hindrances, but as assets.”
As president and CEO of the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce in Austin, Cofield has traveled both domestically and internationally promoting Austin for business recruitment. Named to both Ebony‘s “Top 30 Under 30,” Natalie is a power player who continues to make a significant impact in the community. Read on to learn more about who and what have inspired her along the way.
Q: Please share how your professional career began and how you ended up where you are today.
A: I have always had a passion and an interest in the nexus between business, government and community. I began my career working in the mailroom of a multi-million dollar minority-owned business in Rochester, NY and I was always inspired to see the CEO of a company that looked like me. It showed me that, one day, it might be possible for me to be a CEO. I also grew up with a mother who was constantly working on business plans, creating new companies and developing new lines of business within the company she worked for as an internal-entrepreneur. As such, business and entrepreneurship have always been at the core of my career goals. I have worked for Fortune 500 companies and have been fortunate to work around the world in spaces and places that always blend my passions with my professional pursuits. I believe that being open to following my interests, no matter where they might physically take me – a new town or a new city – has been the key to my career success.
Q: Who is a leader that you have great respect for and why?
A: Madam C. J. Walker. She was the first self-made female millionaire in US History. She was an African American entrepreneur during a time where it was not only difficult being a woman, but being a Black woman was an even larger challenge. She was also a victim of domestic violence — a little known fact. Despite these issues, she built a global beauty business, was civically involved and was an amazing woman.
Q: As a leader in your organization, what is the best piece of advice you would offer to a new employee to help them succeed?
A: Always think entrepreneurially, always think about ways to improve the business, always stay engaged, and always stay hungry. The moment you just have a job to have a job is the moment that you may begin to lag in one or all of the aforementioned areas.
Q: What would you say has been your driving force in your staying power in a male-dominated industry?
A: As a young professional woman who is often the youngest, the youngest woman, and the youngest woman of color, my key to success is to think of each of these not as hindrances, but as assets. I know that I bring a unique perspective, position, and disposition to each meeting and speaking engagement I am involved in.
Q: As a seasoned professional, how do you share your experience with your team on a daily basis?
A: I hold a daily meeting every morning with my team to talk about the important agenda of the day and the week and to discuss strategy for the organization.
Q: What is the one thing you make time for in your daily life that helps keeps you refreshed and positive?
A: Running and spirituality.