Education: B.S., computer science engineering, University of Arkansas
Professional background: In March 2018, Black joined NewRoad Capital Partners, a private equity investment firm. She previously worked at Lowell-based carrier J.B. Hunt Transport Services for 28 years and served on the executive team as senior vice president of information technology. She serves on boards for multiple technology companies, including Platform Science and Emerge.
What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far? I am proud of the team and the culture I developed in the IT department at J.B. Hunt. We made the top 100 best places to work in IT by Computerworld 10 years in a row. The team was talented, supportive and had an immense level of respect for one another. We had a great culture of innovation. I implemented our first hackathon as one method for staff ideas to be heard.
What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on? I am loving my role at NewRoad Capital Partners. We have so many great companies in our pipeline. I am looking forward to digging in to select the best ones to invest in and add to our portfolio. I would love to find another promising startup company in Arkansas or one that wants to locate here, an innovative technology company or a female founder to invest in.
What’s your biggest passion and why? I am passionate about helping others to see opportunities and achieve their goals. From the time I was born, my mom was whispering in my ear: “You are going to college, and you can do anything you want to do.” She was my biggest supporter and cheerleader, and now I try to pass on that support to others.
I have been very active to support more young women in the STEM fields. I fund a scholarship for women in computer science each year. I participate in the Aspirations in Computing award that recognizes high school girls in STEM by soliciting nominations, judging applications, and awarding scholarships to finalist. I was previously the scholarship chair for the Arkansas Academy of Computing and have served on the Arkansas STEM Coalition board.
How do you spend your time away from work? What are your hobbies? Anything outdoors. I like hiking and biking. We live on the lake, and I love to go boating and water-skiing. Reading every night helps me turn off my brain so I can go to sleep.
Can you share what you have learned about your business from the COVID-19 pandemic? COVID-19 is accelerating digital transformation. Ideas that have been delayed and almost impossible to get adopted across industries have accelerated and been implemented. For example, in logistics and final mile, contactless deliveries have become critical, and adoption of telehealth solutions has increased across the healthcare industry. IT teams were challenged to rapidly enable mass employee transitions to work from home providing tools for collaboration and ensuring security.
Most companies have reported being as productive or more productive working from home. Many are downsizing leases and preparing for hybrid work environments for the long term. Enterprise sales teams have migrated to remote sales models and companies are seeing significant cost savings from reduced business travel.
What advice would you give young women who are currently at the beginning of their careers? Success requires hard work, preparation and learning from failure. You need to be open to opportunities and take on new challenges even if you think you aren’t ready for them. I suggest taking multiple intern roles and then taking on different roles in the company to learn as much as you can. As you progress through your career, influence skills become more critical, so start early by building your network across different companies, industries and roles. Listen and learn to gain different perspectives. Be confident, and take credit for your work.
What was your dream job as a kid and why? I thought it would be so cool to be an airline stewardess because they got to travel the world. I didn’t end up being an airline stewardess, but my job has allowed me to travel the world from coast to coast across the U.S., Canada, Europe, Philippines and India.
What is something distinctive people would be surprised to know about you? I’ve been to the Taj Mahal, ridden an elephant, learned several Bollywood dances, and there is a wing of a building in India with my name on it.