40 next: emerging business leaders who are shaping our future.

Author:Robinson, Tennille M.

Business is not limited to the boardroom. Social media helped reinforce this. Coupled with adaptability and a forward-thinking approach, this mobility is altering (in real time) the way we engage others. The objective may be the same, but the rules are different as a new breed of professionals emerges to dominate the business landscape.

These BE Nexters--those 21-35 years old making a measurable impact Within their respective business, organization, industry, or field--prove things just aren't the same.

For this group, leveraging expertise in one area to maximize an opportunity in another is standard. Using the legacy of their business predecessors to forge their own way, this new generation of leadership accepts the torch without trepidation. But the commonality between then and now is that success still takes a focused, strategic, and passionate mindset.

Here BLACK ENTERPRISE identifies 40 young business leaders who are changing the game now and for the future. These BE Nexters are standouts in the areas of entrepreneurship, corporate America academia, nonprofit the arts, and the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)--all with a national, and in some cases a global reach.

Over the next 40 years, they will emerge as our business leaders. What will the generations to come have to say about them? Will they appreciate the successes they've made or be intimidated by following in their footsteps? The world of business will have to watch and see.


Founder/Chief Creative Director

Design Futurist New York

Allen's green fashion accessories and textiles are giving the world an eco-style makeover. Global companies such as Dupont, Calvin Klein, Quiksilver, and Donna Karan have called on Design Futurist, a product design consultancy founded in 2005, to create, design, and produce environmentally friendly materials by using non-toxic methods of production. "Sustainable fashion is not a trend," says Allen, who also gives lectures and offers workshops to organizations and businesses worldwide about sustainable practices and opportunities in fashion. "Any company that wants to be relevant in 10 years needs to grab hold of the idea of innovation and sustainability as core business practices and realize it's not a do-good exercise. It is a business opportunity."--LaToya M. Smith



Senior Legal Counsel

Shell Oil Qatar

One of five attorneys on the Shell legal team on assignment in Qatar, Anderson's main responsibilities include managing construction agreements and partnerships as well as marketing and sales agreements for products produced at the Royal Dutch Shell Pearl gas to liquid (GTL) project, the world's largest plant that converts natural gas into clean-burning liquid transport fuel.


Senior Research Engineer

ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co, Houston

Brookes works with an energy industry group to commission $9.4 million in research on the impact of sound on marine life by scientists worldwide. As the ExxonMobil representative on the international consortium of oil companies and exploration contractors, she analyzes their findings to develop operational plans enabling ExxonMobil to conduct its offshore oil and gas business in an environmentally responsible way.


Chairman of TeenNick

Nickelodeon New York

Cannon is America's youngest television executive, charged with guiding the future of the brand from green-lighting programming to promoting and boosting ad revenues. Among his successful programming credits is the network's HALO Awards, for which he's the creator and talent. The show outperformed the network's average ratings among teens (12-17) by more than 27% and total viewers by 36% in its time slot. The self-professed "Entrepre-tainer" simultaneously runs his own entertainment company and hosts a morning radio show on CBS Radio and NBC'S hit reality show America's Got Talent.



Vice President, Business Development

GlobalHue New York

Coleman is an integral part of the day-to-day operations of the multicultural ad firm where she leads he new business team and serves as president of Cutting Edge Productions, a broadcast production Louse under its corporate umbrella. Coleman manages across key areas, including new business, production, public relations, and The Coleman Entrepreneurial Scholarship.



Heritage Link Brands L.L.C. Los Angeles

The 2009 BE Next Company of the Year, Heritage Link Brands has demonstrated explosive growth (2009 revenues: $1.15 million) while enabling African vintners to market their wines globally. The Cuffes have struck lucrative deals with United and American Airlines to serve South African wines on flights. In fact, the AA deal made their wine, One World, the first such fair-trade wine to be served on an airline in the U.S.


VP/General Manager

ESPNU Bristol, CT

As the youngest black VP/GM at ESPN, Durant currently oversees ESPNU, a 24-hour college-themed program channel with exclusive live event coverage. Since joining the network in 2008, Durant has helped grow viewership from about 20 million households to more than 72 million nationwide and secured distribution agreements with Charter, Comcast, Direct TV, DISH Network, Mediacom, Time Warner, Verizon FIOS TV, and AT&T U-verse.




Green for All Oakland, CA

Ellis-Lamkins' goal is to build a green economy, inclusive of...

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