For today’s blog from the Forum, we recognize one of our WBE Champion Recruiters. The awe-inspiring Diane Winston is Chief Communications Strategist of Winston Strategic Partners, a diversified communications firm adapting their strategies to support your timetable and project objectives.
Diane Winston is the Founder, CEO, and Chief Communications Strategist of Winston Strategic Partners, a management consulting firm specializing in change that impacts organizations and their people. A self-described “former corporate beast,” Diane’s professional foundation stems from a progressive 20-year career at Citibank in product and project management. However, her last assignment motivated her to leave the Bank. She explains, “After my last assignment, leading the Global Y2K client communications effort for the cash and trade organizations, I decided it was time for me to pursue the work I truly loved: change management, strategic communications, and project management.
“When I left Citi in 2000, the market was thriving, so with a leap of faith, I left to pursue my dream job. Through prayer and networking, I was blessed to land a perfect (and newly created) position as Director of Communications for the IT Division at AXA Equitable. The company had recently been acquired by the French insurance firm, the AXA Group, impacting everything, especially the role of IT. I loved it. I was making so much impact. However, after a short 18 months of rocking it, the attacks on 9/11 changed the country and my employment status.”
Diane, like many others, found herself on the street again. However, through her networking contacts and excellent reputation, she landed her first consulting assignment as the Change Management Communications Lead on a two-year HR Transformation project for a Fortune 100 company.
Diane shares, “After this project, I continued to consult with this firm and acquired a variety of other clients. At the same time, I was interviewing for corporate roles when it dawned on me how much I loved the challenge of learning about new industries and cultures, but more importantly, I loved the freedom to call my shots. So, in 2005, I put a stake in the ground and launched Winston Strategic Partners.”
Today, Diane has worked with large organizations, including Consolidated Edison, Rhode Island National Guard, Dr. Pepper, Snapple Group, Unilever, Pitney Bowes, Scholarship America, Connecticut Lottery, the University of Hartford, and many others.
After years of working with large and mid-size corporations and non-profit clients, the firm and Diane established a reputation as highly valued resources for change management, strategic communications, leadership and career development, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) program support.
Today, Diane feels compelled to be available to share her experiences as a mentor to women, especially women of color, who are beginning their journeys as an entrepreneur.
“Although I do mentor,” she states, “ it’s usually as an informal mentor. Mentoring goes both ways: while I can share insights from my experience, I always, always end up learning something I may not have considered from the sister I am mentoring. I believe information has absolutely no value unless you share it. I have found tremendous support and encouragement from many women through the WBENC network. I give Laura Taylor total credit for introducing me to WBENC and encouraging me to get WBENC-certified.”
Since becoming certified, WBENC conferences have introduced her to she has met a host of women business owners with whom she has collaborated, subcontracted, mentored, and been mentored. Today, Diane serves as a member of the WBEC Metro-NY Steering Committee, represents this RPO on the Forum Domestic Team Program Committee, and, in addition to attending conferences, she has participated in many WBENC-sponsored programs, including WBENC Amplify, The Capital One/WBEC Metro New York Sage Program, WeThrive, WeIgnite, WBENC WOC, to name a few. “Through these programs and participation,” she states, “I have been fortunate enough to establish lifelong friendships, with women who are rocking it and who are always looking out for ways to help me to grow my business.
“So when I have the opportunity to meet or mentor another woman business owner, I first inquire if they are WBENC-certified. If they are not, I strongly encourage them to consider it because, although being certified doesn’t guarantee we’ll land the contracts, it does open the door to potential clients we would not otherwise have access. Getting the business is all about being in the room and making those connections. However, building those relationships over time is on us.
“The sisterhood and opportunity to support one another within WBENC are invaluable.”
For example, a few years ago, I met a sister who was getting ready to launch her company full-time. Following that event, we met over lunch and continue to be in touch. Although never formally established, she introduces me as her mentor. Today, this sister, Samantha Williams, has expanded her company, Sam’s Word, to now include 628 Digital Design. While I take no credit for her success, I can say I’ve made myself available to her whenever she wanted my perspective or insight on a situation. This is my obligation and commitment to her as a Black Woman CEO. I am committed to all women CEOs but especially to Women of Color. After all, if we don’t support each other, who will? When we harness the power we have together, we all win.”
About the Featured WBE
Diane Winston is the Founder and CEO of Winston Strategic Partners, LLC, WBENC-certified since 2013.