It was the mid-1970s, and Janice Bryant had graduated with an English degree from what was once North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, now North Carolina AT&T State University—an institution that currently benefits from her accomplishments and her generosity.
Today, Janice Bryant Howroyd is known for many achievements, but perhaps her biggest notoriety comes from being the first African American woman in the United States to build a billion-dollar company—The ActOne Group, the nation’s largest privately-owned personnel agency, which she founded and now leads as CEO.
From a humble start as a secretary for Billboard Magazine in 1978, Howroyd began a life-long journey into public service, leadership, and corporate success, establishing a legacy for women and other minority entrepreneurs. And what is so impressive about her story is that it wasn’t just any one thing she did well—she did everything well.
Howroyd’s business acumen took her business to a global level. Serving companies, from small- and mid-sized to Fortune 500s, ActOne now operates in 19 countries and has over 17,000 clients. Is there a secret to this success? Howroyd, one of 11 children, credits her parents, especially her mother: she was a perfect “Chief Operating Officer” of the family. Her parents’ examples of hard work and honesty became foundational in Howroyd’s ascent to success.
Howroyd doesn’t shy from public service, either. She has served in administrative and advisory roles for numerous organizations and government agencies, including:
– Ambassador of the Department of Energy’s “Minorities in Energy Initiative”
– Board Member of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Initiative Board of Directors, Women’s Business National CouncilBoard of Directors, Harvard Women’s Leadership BoardMember of Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Services and Finance Treasurer of Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Board
Writing is among Howroyd’s talents. She has authored several books, including: Acting Up: Winning in Business and Life Using Down-Home Wisdom, and The Art of Work: How to Make Work, Work for You!
She also participated as an author in Forbes and the HuffPost. Her stories and advice exemplify the way she beat the odds in business as an African American woman at a time when those odds weren’t so good.
If you feel there isn’t a chance of success, think again about Janice Bryant Howroyd. Her story is good motivation for us all and a Woman Leading the way.