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Apr 3, 2024

The Power of Prioritizing in Decision-Making: A Conversation with Kathryn Black

By Caroline White, Class of 2026

When was the last time you had a conversation that filled your bucket?

(If you’re unfamiliar with the “filling your bucket” metaphor – give it a quick Google. I first learned about it from a picture book in 4th grade, and it’s a message that has stuck with me ever since.)

My bucket was filled from a conversation with Kathryn Black on Wednesday, February 28. Mrs. Black has had an extensive career in banking and recently retired from her role as the Strategic Initiatives Executive at Bank of America. She continues to give back to her community by serving as a board member for several organizations in the city of Charlotte and state-wide. I, along with several fellow Luther Hodges Scholars, had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with Mrs. Black and discuss her professional experiences, advice for women in business, and career development tips for future business professionals.

Within minutes of talking with her, it became clear why Mrs. Black has had such a successful career. She sets herself apart by being incredibly driven, personable, curious, and empathic. It makes sense that she has been a successful leader with the belief that, ‘As a leader, you should make it your goal to speak the fewest words’, highlighting the importance of listening in effective leadership. She added that you should also never be afraid to speak up and be heard. ‘Like everything in life, it’s all about balance’, Mrs. Black explained.

It is also no surprise that she led high-performing teams as she created a supportive culture and saw it as a sign of success to highlight her teams over herself. We learned about the value of being a problem solver and leveraging partnerships, especially between the private and public sectors. Mrs. Black spoke of her mindset when decision-making as, “When I say ‘yes’, I make ‘yes’ the right answer.” It was very powerful to understand how we can take the initiative to make our choice the correct one, whether it’s how to spend our time or what we get involved in.

For me, the most impactful part of the conversation was the discussion on how to balance career and family. Mrs. Black explained that if you are not intentional with your time, the the day-to-day matters of life will take up more space than you realize and get in the way of what is most important.

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