August Member of the Month, Hillary Black, Co-CEO of Kay & Black Talent Management + | MSW and Co-Founder of PerQ
By She Runs It
Born and raised in Queens until I moved to New York City in high school where I continue to reside.
Current job title / company
Co-CEO of Kay & Black Talent Management + | MSW and Co-Founder of PerQ
Briefly describe your career journey
Initially, I had a desire to make ads the way Charles Bukowski and E.E. Cummings wrote poems. While my initial professional goal was to become a copywriter, I soon realized after taking classes at the School of Visual Arts that my real skill—and passion—was helping people identify and showcase their core strengths to find their perfect creative home. So, I started my career in 1994 as a creative assistant at Kirshenbaum & Bond and then shortly after joining a boutique creative and production recruitment firm in 1995, I became a recruiter. In 1999 Leslie Kay and I joined forces and we formed Kay & Black in 2007.
My style is very organic and nurturing. I love coaching and helping people feel their best self, and built out that discipline in our company called PerQ. Always wanting to learn new skills, I earned my Masters in Social Work from Fordham University in 2010 at age 37. This experience, combined with a Bachelors in Psychology, gives me additional insight into human nature and understanding people as humans rather than just job candidates.
In addition, if it were not for my business partner Leslie Kay, I would not have had the ability to spread my wings and see this journey to its fruition. We need cheerleaders in life. We need Experts. We need Connectors. During the evolution of my career I became a working mother of 2 and also a grateful thriver of stage 3 cancer, which has provided a unique lesson on life about the desire to build on to our need as humans to look to what brings us purpose at home and at work.
Which three words would you use to describe your personality?
Name a woman who inspires you and why?
I know this may not be an answer you are hoping for, but there are many women that inspire me. There is a common thread among them – they seek a change and work it until it happens. They don’t give up or give in. They know it may take time but they continue to feed it, until it is born. They are women who also find time to give back to themselves. I admire Working Mothers which means those that Work Their Home, or their Office. Anyone who puts time in to what gives them pleasure or what serves a need. I admire women who do things to help others get their goals done. I admire women who self reflect. I admire women who seek to evolve. I admire women who simply try and find what their “happy” place in this world.
What are you involved in with She Runs It?
I’ve always been committed to mentorship activities and giving back, whether 1:1 or as a speaker at events, workshops, and panel discussions. Ongoing support, passion, and enthusiasm. It is a tangible community – meaning we can hear each other and be there for one another without feeling the weight of the crowd. My mother lived a short life, but she started a small business at a time where women were not the majority and putting themselves in to the world was a step for us all. She wrote me that each of us has a responsibility to keep the mission of equality and support alive.
What is inspiring to you during this period of change we are all experiencing?
That everyone of good nature in our industry and out is building on the power of SUPPORT. It so beautiful that people are offering support in any way they know that they can. I am also very much inspired by the talent in our industry are not just sharing ideas and wants, they are making it happen themselves. The talent is creating the change, for example 600&rising and others. This is the era of change for so many things that have gone on too long that need to be rewritten and I applaud all that hare helping to create an equitable and kinder workplace and world.
As a company (Kay & Black and PerQ Coaching ) in the talent management space, what is one piece of advice you would give to women seeking employment right now?
There is a voice in many of our heads, and very often it leads us to believe we have fooled everyone in to thinking we are good. That we are imposters. When that tape plays I want everyone who thinks this way to – say out loud or in your in head: I choose the truth. That truth is that: I am earning, have earned or growing to where I am. Shut the tape off. Write about it. Defy its broken record. You are worthy.