Talent Champion – Vita Harris

Talent Champion Spotlight

AEF Talent Champion - Vita Harris

Vita Harris
Chief Strategy Officer 
FCB Global

Vita Harris’s business acumen, passion and strategic thinking have helped transform many high-profile companies and brands. Her client roster has included such accounts as Walmart, Beiersdorf (Nivea and Eucerin), American Express, Bank of America, Verizon, AT&T, the U.S. Census Bureau, United Healthcare and Avis, among others.

Throughout a career spanning 30+ years, Harris has served as chief strategy officer at the local-unit and global levels, developing innovative techniques and tools resulting in effective strategies and high-ROI campaigns. She is dedicated to helping drive agency and client success and she has led award-winning work recognized by the industry. In an increasingly borderless world, Harris also helps worldwide organizations disrupt their thought patterns by educating them on how to prevent harmful biases from seeping into their strategies and creative —since all work is now globally exposed work.

Harris is currently chief strategy officer at FCB Global. She serves on the board of directors of the ANA Educational Foundation and is a member of The Ad Council’s Campaign Review Committee.

What prompted you to get involved with the AEF and why are you passionate about the future of the industry?

If I recall correctly, I have been involved with the AEF for over 20 years – always as a campus speaker and more recently also as a board member. I can’t place who first told me about the AEF, but I do remember all those many years ago speaking with Sharon Hudson, who currently serves as VP, Program Manager at the AEF. I must credit her with getting me involved. The mission of the AEF – Educating and inspiring the next generation of marketing talent – coupled with the work that Sharon was doing (before it was popular to do so) to ensure HBCU representation within AEF programs and HBCUs as a pipeline to this industry, was something that I had real heart for. It was difficult back then to even get speakers to visit HBCUs because most volunteers wanted to visit their alma mater or schools with which they were more familiar. As an HBCU graduate myself, I was inspired and encouraged by Sharon to get involved to do whatever I could to help change the complexion and culture of this industry. Thank you, AEF and Sharon, for the opportunity to give back in such a meaningful and impactful way. I have so much hope for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry.

What is the best career advice you've ever received?

I have received a lot of sage career advice from so many leaders, mentors, managers and peers, but I think the one piece of advice that has endured the test of time and has kept me centered was when I was told, It’s not about what you’ve done, Vita. It’s about what you are doing. This stern and career-saving lecture from Laurence Boschetto rescued me from the trap of getting caught up in the pride of past accomplishments and freed me to never rest on my laurels.

Who was your favorite professor and why?

My favorite professor was Dr. Pravat K. Choudhury. He is Professor Emeritus of Marketing at the Howard University School of Business, where he served as a Chairman and Professor of the Department of Marketing for 40 years. The backstory is this: I avoided taking any and all evening classes as an undergraduate. Consumer Behavior was a mandatory course for Marketing majors, which I was. I dreaded it, and showed up very begrudgingly just to get it over with. Ends up that I LOVED the content – and Dr. Choudhury even more. When I decided to return to Howard University to pursue an MBA, Dr. Choudhury asked me to serve as his graduate assistant. I gladly accepted. Upon reflection, he was a huge influence on my career choice as a strategist and planner, inspiring me to devote my career to ensuring that the voice and behavior of the consumer is fairly represented in everything that I do.

"Our future marketing and advertising leaders are not just looking for a job, they are looking for a meaningful career that will make a positive impact on society."
— Gord McLean, President and CEO at ANA Educational Foundation