Stacey J. Key is the president and CEO of the state of Georgia’s leading small business development and supplier diverse organization. Through the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council, Key and her staff help minority business owners position themselves to secure contract opportunities with major local and national corporations.
As a woman of color, what do you consider your superpower to be?
The superpower that a woman of color must possess is an ability to shapeshift in and out of her many roles. I know amazing women who are balancing a dizzying array of roles — business owner, wife, mother, corporate executive owner, community activist, and more. I think the ability to transform into the role that is needed and all with style and grace at the moment is an incredible superpower.
What key skills or qualities make you unique as an African American female leader?
The skill that I bring to the role I play is a great deal of experience in both corporate America and as a business owner. My day-to-day role is to facilitate partnerships between Corporations and minority businesses. Having worked for global brands for more than 20 years, while also having managed a family-owned small business for 15 years, makes me uniquely skilled to be the leader of my organization.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Never, ever stop learning, no matter how much experience you have or how many degrees or accolades you may acquire. The world of business is constantly evolving, which requires that you adapt and evolve as well. The flexible individual who is always open to new things will prosper in an ever-changing environment.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
The importance of seeing women of color in leadership roles cannot be overstated, especially when they serve as role models for young women and girls around them. Our male counterparts have a centuries-long head start in decision-making roles, and we have only just begun to make real progress. One of the most important catalysts of a young person’s dreams is the ability to connect with people with whom they can identify, and look like them. We provide that example for those who are coming along behind us and should stand boldly on our shoulders.
If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
I have always admired Maya Angelou for her courage, her leadership and her eloquence. She has done such an amazing job of capturing the thoughts and hopes of so many while serving as a proud example of strength and dignity even in the face of great adversity. She is a woman of color who has blazed many paths for others to follow.
Why is it important for seasoned and experienced Black women to reach back and help younger women of color?
I talk often about the importance of mentors. Access to insight and wisdom from those who have been there can significantly accelerate career achievement and help the emerging professional to avoid some of the pitfalls along the journey. We all want our children to fly even higher than we ever did — we can support that vision by being available to help.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition? What qualities or values do you deem indispensable in your business partners or collaborators?
In my day-to-day role, my staff and I help minority business owners position themselves to secure contracts and opportunities with corporate supply chains. In many instances, the scope and scale of the opportunity may be beyond the reach of a single company, often making it mandatory for companies to collaborate in order to compete for the opportunity. That hashtag is a principle that we share often with our constituents, as it is essential to their success. I believe collaboration and innovation are two essential qualities for the future.
What are your thoughts on taking risks? Making mistakes?
I am a bold risk taker that believes one must be allowed to make decisions, make mistakes and learn from them in order to develop a mature skill set. As long as one manages to ‘fail forward,’ he or she can leverage those bumps in the road for future success.
What are three success habits you implement into your daily routine to maintain your success, sanity, peace of mind, etc.?
I am extremely passionate about what I do — change lives and help small businesses grow. I am extremely grounded in my values and principles which guides my path. I am focused and passionate about that path and surround myself with people smarter than me to work the path with me. And lastly, I never give up — I was born to win and I embrace that every day.
As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest or proudest achievement?
I don’t have one greatest or proudest achievement — I have many golden memories from my journey.