Updated: Nov 23, 2020
It’s not every day you meet a real-life superhero.
If you ask Kim Paige, Executive Vice President (EVP) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Black Entertainment Television (BET), what her superpower is, she’ll tell you that she is “Kim Possible.”
With a knack for creating possibilities out of projects deemed impossible, Kim has spent two decades executing branding and marketing strategies for some of the world’s largest companies, including Coca-Cola, Proctor and Gamble, Coty Inc., and Sundial Brands.
She stepped into the world of media at BET in September 2019 and has spearheaded BET’s marketing during some of the most pivotal moments of the company’s 40-year history, including:
· The launch of new content from Tyler Perry and Lena Waithe
· The reimagining of the BET master brand and its purpose
· Supporting the launch of BET’s first streaming platform, BET+
· The organizational shift during the Covid-19 pandemic
· Marketing the first-ever virtual BET Awards
As one of the few black women to occupy the C-suite, Kim is the much-needed representation that young women of color, especially black women need to see. While Kim is powerful, successful, and a corporate powerhouse -- she is also human.
This month, the Colors of Her Success (TCHS) caught up with Kim to get to know her personally. Here are eight questions with Kim Paige:
1. What are the first 3 things you do in the morning?
K: I usually start my day at around 5:45ish (pre-Covid).
The first thing I do is workout. The notion of getting up and getting my body moving is so important. It allows me to disconnect from everything and sets me up for the day.
Next, I’ll skim the news with CBS morning news playing in the background. I sometimes use theSkimm app, which gives me the headlines for the day. If I find something interesting, I do a deep dive to find more information.
Finally, when my kids are home for the holidays, I cook a hot breakfast for them every day. I’ve done this since they were born. It is a way to ensure they start each day properly nourished and for us to connect on the day ahead. I’m not a breakfast person, so I typically opt for a smoothie later in the morning.
2. What is your advice for young women of color who want to work in the C-Suite?
K: I believe you have to have confidence, capability, and a supportive community.
To work in the C-Suite, you have to have a degree of confidence in yourself and what you bring to the table. As a woman of color, you have to show up as if you are overqualified (which we know is generally the case); you have to 1000% believe that you belong there.
You will face challenges (directly and indirectly), so you have to be a mental warrior. If not, the corporate games will chip away at your sense of worth. For me, I’m aware of where I work, but more importantly, I know who I serve. I never let a title or project define my worth. My advice is don’t take the highs to high or the lows too low!
Capability is not only rooted in your education and the work you’ve done to get to your position, but how you are challenging yourself everyday. How you are building and empowering a team of crazy-smart people around you to continue to learn. It’s important to demonstrate that you’re capable of learning your company and what needs to be true for growth.
Community is whatever you deem as your community. For me, I’m blessed to have a family, an amazing group of friends, mentors, and sponsors around me that I consider my “board.” They are the ones I go to when I want to bounce ideas - big or small. While I may stand in some rooms alone, I know I am never alone. I’m always a product of the community and relationships I have built over time.
"As a woman of color, you have to show up as if you are overqualified; you have to believe that you 1000% belong there."
3. What song has been on repeat for you?
K: I’m such a music head. But, lately, I’ve been listening to Snoh Aalegra’s album. I find her voice to be so soothing, and it also has this nice rhythmic vibe to it. I’m shocked that there’s a lot of people that still don’t know her music.
4. What’s one fact about the 2020 virtual BET Awards?
K: The marketing team never saw the show in its entirety before it happened! We knew the show would have a sense of black joy, black pride, and black power, but we had no idea what the show would look like when we started promoting. That's the power of the BET team and the magic of Connie Orlando, who is the genius behind our music and special events.
I remember looking at so many comments on social media, saying, “BET should cancel the awards.” After doing that social listening and seeing the pain and hardship our community was enduring on the heels of George Floyd’s murder, the idea: "Our culture is too big to be canceled" popped into my head.
I shared this idea with our fantastic brand marketing and creative team and they blew it out of the park . There was no way we could cancel this year’s award show because it was a moment that the Black community and culture needed…one that only BET could deliver. Our ability to rally, show up, and drive change for the Black community is truly BET’s superpower.
The entire organization came together to make it happen. We had over 15 billion impressions with headlines saying this was the best awards show to date. It landed with the audience because we recognized this is so much bigger than us as a network; it was bigger than an award. We used this moment as an opportunity to bring the community together.
" There was no way we could cancel this year’s award show because it was a moment that the Black community and culture needed…one that only BET could deliver."
5. What’s your advice for introverts who cringe at the word “Networking”?
K: You have to figure out what feels most comfortable for you.
I grew up in a time where people would literally throw networking events. Everyone had their elevator pitches, and it always felt inauthentic to who I was as an individual. I am naturally an introvert, so I never did well in those settings.
I had to figure out what networking looked like for me. I learned that I am better one on one; I prefer a more intimate setting. As someone who wants to cultivate genuine relationships, it was tough to do that in the traditional networking environment. As a result, I’ve built my own network by finding what felt the most authentic and comfortable for me.
6. What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?
K: Anything culture-related…movie, arts, music, fashion. Clearly, during the pandemic, it's mostly been binge-watching TV! My day-to-day is so hectic that I love spending my days off catching up on shows I’ve heard or read about…....besides, its called competitive intelligence! If I’m not catching up on TV, I am usually spending time catching up with family and friends.
7. What do you think has been the secret(s) to your success?
K: It’s been a combination of asking questions, building genuine relationships, and raising my hand for challenges.
I have an insatiable curiosity about things. I am not afraid to ask questions. Sometimes, it’s the questions people are afraid to ask that lead to the next level of thinking. It’s not about asking questions for the answer; it’s about asking questions to reframe how you think about an opportunity.
Many people say, “It’s who you know vs. what you know” but it’s deeper than that. I don’t connect with people because of how it will benefit me. I connect because I genuinely want to build meaningful relationships. It’s not transactional. I’ve cultivated such meaningful relationships over the years that I can call people I have worked with 10-15 years ago and ask them for assistance. If I need help, they will go above and beyond because they are invested in my success and vice versa.
Running toward challenges:
I never shy away from challenges. My boss and I often talk about what my superpower is. My response is: I’m Kim Possible. I’ve built a reputation for being the “turn around” person. When something is failing, I always think about how I can turn it around. I’m always thinking about what is possible vs. what isn’t possible.
8. What have you learned about yourself during this pandemic?
K: I’ve learned to value moments of stillness and quiet. For the last 4-5 years of my career, I was constantly on the go. I was either traveling or rushing here and there. So, I’ve embraced how to be still and in the moment. That’s not to say that I’m no longer busy, but I’ve been much more intentional with my time and truly focused on creating moments that matter with and for those I love.
*This article has been edited for length and clarity*
More About Kim:
Kim Paige is a dynamic leader with extensive experience in general management, marketing, strategic planning, innovation, and brand development. As a two-time HBCU graduate, Kim kicked off her marketing career at Procter and Gamble, where she served as Assistant Brand Manager.
She then started her own marketing consultancy before taking her talents to Coca-Cola. At Coca-Cola, she forged a path for 22 years and concluded her journey as Vice President of Marketing and Innovation. After her time at the iconic beverage company, she has since spearheaded marketing and branding efforts for top organizations, including Coty, Sundial, and currently Black Entertainment Television (BET). Want to keep up with Kim? You can find her on LinkedIn and Instagram.