Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Wednesday's Woman of Courage - Lillian Lincoln Lambert
I had the pleasure of meeting Lillian through my connection with the Harvard Business School Club here in CT.
Although I was unable to attend the meeting at which she spoke, one of my former colleagues at UBS was kind enough to bring to me an autographed copy of her incredible book.
My colleague was so impressed with Lillian's message that she invited her to speak at a UBS Diversity Event. The picture you see displayed is of Lillian, Cecelia Holloway, UBS MD, Diversity and Inclusion, and me.
Lillian's story is one of courage and commitment. Her motto is “If I can succeed, so can you.”
Born on a farm in the segregated South, Lillian sensed in her bones that a better life awaited her. At the age of 18, she journeyed to New York City and Washington, DC, to seek her fortune. After gutting out menial jobs as a maid and typist for a few years, Lillian came to the realization that her journey was internal and that education would be her ticket to a new world. With loans and scholarships in hand, she obtained a BA degree from Howard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. It was at Harvard that Lillian achieved a historical milestone as the first African American woman to receive a Harvard MBA. The year was 1969, an era forever linked with the civil rights and burgeoning women’s rights movements.
After Harvard, Lillian became a barrier-breaking entrepreneur. From 1976 to 2001, she was President and CEO of Centennial One, Inc., a building maintenance company she founded in her garage on a few thousand dollars. She grew the company to $20 million in sales with more than 1,200 employees. Lillian sold the company in 2001, eager to pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities, such as speaking and writing.
In 2003, Harvard Business School awarded Lillian the Alumni Achievement Award, the highest award bestowed on its alumni. The award recognizes recipients for "their contributions they made to their companies and communities, while upholding the highest standards and values in everything they do."
This brief post cannot begin to provide the depth of her incredible spirit. I urge you to get a copy of her book and read it cover to cover.
We will continue to highlight courageous women each Wednesday, so check back with us next week. Or better yet, keep tuned to this blog daily. We wouldn't want you to miss a thing!
Until then, remember to believe, achieve, receive. SDG, JBHIV