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Celebrating Black excellence: Keisha Bailey, MBA ’15

Feb 28, 2024

Keisha Bailey

February is Black History Month and we’re celebrating Ivey alumni who have demonstrated Black excellence in their professional and personal life. In their own words, they share who and what helped them to define Black excellence and how that influenced their careers and life as well as ways to empower Black excellence all year round. Read on to learn how Keisha Bailey, MBA ’15, was inspired by her Ivey experience to found her own financial education and consulting firm, Profit Jumpstarter, to empower the next generation of wealth-builders.

Get to know Keisha Bailey, MBA ’15

My name is Keisha Bailey and I’m originally from Jamaica, but came to Canada to do my MBA at Ivey. I had already worked in banking for many years and initially wanted to build on that expertise and use what I learned at Ivey to help my community back home. Instead, my Ivey experience motivated me to found my own company, Profit Jumpstarter, where I am now able to help BIPOC-owned enterprises to build wealth to aid the success of future generations. I recently published a book, Get Serious About Wealth, to also help in that regard. As the BIPOC Lead for the Ivey Alumni Network (IAN) Board, my mandate is to ensure that IAN’s activities contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable environment. A recent  initiative is the creation of the BIPOC Alumni Network Group.

How do you define or describe Black excellence?

Black excellence is a term that celebrates and acknowledges the outstanding achievements, accomplishments, and contributions of individuals of African descent across various fields and endeavours. It recognizes the ability of Black individuals to excel and make significant impacts in areas such as education, business, science, technology, arts, sports, and more, despite historical and systemic challenges. It also emphasizes the importance of representation, empowerment, and breaking down barriers to create equal opportunities for Black individuals to thrive and showcase their talents, and encourages role modelling, mentorship, and community support.

For me, Black excellence goes beyond individual success. It’s not just about my own success, but the success and resilience of the collective group, the Black community. That’s why I run my company. I realize that I have been successful because I had exposure to the Ivey MBA and the Ivey Alumni Network, which enabled me to land a job on Bay Street, and I can leverage my success to help others. I’m now using my knowledge and expertise to break down barriers within my community around finance and access to capital because that’s how you build future generations – by building wealth. 

What foundational experiences supported your Black excellence?

A lot of my foundational experiences came through Ivey. I’m from Jamaica so coming to Canada to do my MBA at Ivey was very eye-opening in terms of learning how business is done in a developed country versus a developing country. There were also opportunities to manage money on a global scale. Having exposure to these kinds of opportunities made me realize that I could start my own company because Ivey really pushes you, especially with the case-based learning, to think creatively – to think strategically.

At Ivey, I was also equipped with the right skillset. Not just academic skills, which you definitely get, but also determination, consistency, and discipline, which I think are the key elements for anyone looking to achieve Black excellence on an individual or collective level.

I also had mentors at Ivey. There were some Black faculty members that were able to share their experiences with me. Even the non-Black professors were excellent. George Athanassakos, for instance, helped me to hone my investment philosophy. I already had a strong investment background, but he just took it to a whole other level with value investing. Even today, I read all of his newsletters.

Going to Ivey was definitely one of the major transformational experiences for me. It not only pushed my success, but it motivated me to think beyond me to the collective success of my community. Originally, I wasn’t even going to stay in Canada. I was going to go back home. But Ivey taught me to be open to new opportunities and, as I got job offers, I thought perhaps gaining experience in Canada would equip me to bring that experience home. That’s exactly what I’m doing now. Now I have clients from the Caribbean and I’m helping them by sharing my experience. I would not have been able to help them to this extent had I not gone through that entire process at Ivey and subsequently working in Canada.

How can organizations empower Black excellence all year round?

Promoting and celebrating Black excellence in business schools, institutions, and industries can contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable environment. Below are some ways these entities can celebrate and empower Black excellence all year round. 

I think having a focus on diverse representation with specific Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) metrics is particularly important. Having the data really highlights what’s happening. Mentorship, networking, and financial support for Black individuals also greatly contribute to creating a more equitable and inclusive environment. Ivey is doing a lot of work in these areas, but we need greater engagement beyond Ivey through partnerships with Black business enterprises and community organizations.

So I want to end with a call to action for our readers: Are there any ways that you can engage in this work? We need everyone working together to create a better future.

Ways to empower Black excellence:

Diverse representation:

  • Ensure diverse representation in leadership, faculty, and guest speakers; and,
  • Highlight and celebrate the achievements of Black business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Inclusive curriculum:

  • Integrate diverse perspectives into the curriculum to reflect the contributions of Black individuals in business; and,
  • Include case studies featuring successful Black entrepreneurs and businesses.

Mentorship programs:

  • Establish mentorship programs that connect Black students with successful professionals in their field of interest; and,
  • Encourage alumni to serve as mentors and share their experiences.

Networking opportunities:

  • Create networking events that facilitate connections between Black students and professionals; and,
  • Host industry-specific forums and panels that showcase successful Black professionals.

Professional development:

  • Offer workshops and training sessions focused on professional development, leadership skills, and entrepreneurship for Black students; and,
  • Provide resources and support for career advancement.

Scholarships and financial aid:

  • Establish scholarships specifically for Black students pursuing business education; and,
  • Ensure that financial aid programs are accessible and equitable for all students.

Cultural competency training:

  • Implement cultural competency training for faculty, staff, and students to create an inclusive learning environment; and,
  • Foster a sense of belonging and cultural awareness.

Community engagement:

  • Collaborate with local Black-owned businesses and organizations; and,
  • Engage in community service and outreach to address social and economic disparities.

Visibility and recognition:

  • Publicly recognize and celebrate the achievements of Black students, faculty, and alumni; and,
  • Showcase success stories through newsletters, websites, and social media platforms.

Advocacy for equality:

  • Advocate for policies that promote equality and diversity within the institution and the broader business community; and,
  • Participate in initiatives that address systemic barriers to success.

Regular events and celebrations:

  • Host events, seminars, and conferences that specifically focus on Black excellence in business; and,
  • Celebrate cultural heritage months and other relevant occasions throughout the year.

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