How to Be a J.E.D.I. Leader, Not a Boss, with Omar L. Harris

Omar L. Harris has worked and lived all over the world – Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, and the United States. So he’s experienced a variety of cultures and has the experiences to know what works in business and what doesn’t – especially in leadership.

Be a J.E.D.I. Leader, Not a Boss: Leadership in the Era of Corporate Social Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, by Omar L. Harris


Jackie Ferguson: Hi, and welcome to season five of the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Podcast sponsored by The Diversity Movement. I’m your host, Jackie Ferguson equality advocate and certified diversity executive. On this show, we discuss how diversity, equity and inclusion benefit our workplaces, schools, and communities by sharing the stories, insights, and best practices of game changers, leaders, and glass ceiling breakers that are doing the work to make our world a more understanding, welcoming and supportive place for us all.

Jackie: My guest today is Omar Harris. Omar is a best-selling author, founder and managing partner at Intent Consulting, motivational speaker and leadership coach. Omar I like to start by asking my guests a bit about themselves, their background, their family, their identity, anything that you’d like to share. 

Omar: So in terms of my background, I come from a solidly middle-class family, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My family is a bit unique in that I have three older brothers and a younger sister, but my three older brothers were all results of previous marriages of my parents. So, my mother had two children before she married my father and my father had a son before he married my mother. So from the beginning of my life, I kind of lived in a blended, kind of a blended family. 

Jackie: A lot of us are living in those blended families these days. 

Omar: Yeah, from that perspective. And so I grew up in Pittsburgh till I was five years of age, but I still call Pittsburgh home. I lived in West Virginia Charles Town, West Virginia from the age of five to 11, and then moved to Lake Charles Louisiana, which was a really big shift from the north to the south. And yeah, and I attended junior high school and high school in Louisiana before getting a full scholarship to Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Florida, which is an HBCU as you know, and really started off my, you know, my professional career in pharmaceuticals in 1998 as a sales rep in Detroit, Michigan.

I got another opportunity to go to Brazil. when I was 23 years old as an international marketing intern, and spent 16 months in Brazil where I learned the language. And then I graduated from, from FAMU with my MBA at 25, and really started my professional career all in a pharmaceutical industry, working for companies like Sharing Plow, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, and Allergan all around the world. So the career took me from the US back to Brazil a second time to Turkey, to Indonesia, and back to Brazil before moving back to the US last March. So I spent eight years out of the US directly from 2012 to 2020 living in Turkey and Indonesia and Brazil and then I came back to the U S last spring, smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic, social justice protests, and a very crucial American election. 

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Diversity Beyond the Checkbox is brought to you by The Diversity Movement, hosted by Head of Content Jackie Ferguson, and is a production of Earfluence.

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