Corporate America has often been fraught with roadblocks to people of color and other minorities. With the winds of change in the air, we look at some black Americans who have successfully become top business leaders.
David Steward is the chairman of World Wide Technology (WWT). Steward's father was a mechanic and the family faced poverty and discrimination in the then-segregated south in their home of Clinton, Missouri.
After graduating high school, Steward went on to earn his BS degree in business from Central Missouri State University in 1973.
Steward really began his professional career when he took a job at Wagner Electric as production manager, then going on to work at Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, then Federal Express where he was named salesman of the year in 1981.
Recent figures place WWT's annual revenue at $12 billion.
American engineer and business executive Don Thompson is mostly known for his tenure as McDonald's chief executive from 2012 through to 2015.
Thompson was born in Chicago. He later moved to Indianapolis where he completed high school and earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Purdue University.
Thompson's education led him to work for a military aircraft manufacturer, before joining McDonald's in 1990. This would be the start of a 25-year ascent into the fast-food corporation and business stratosphere.
Thompson moved into operations in 1994 after working as a project manager and staff director for the quality development department in 1992.
By 2006, he was President of McDonald's USA and McDonald's Restaurants of Canada. And in the following year, Thompson rose into the role of Chief Operating Officer for the global corporation, leading to his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of McDonald's Corp in 2012.
Ramona Hood, of Cleveland, Ohio, is the CEO of FedEx Custom Critical, but she started out in 1991 as a receptionist at Roberts Express, a company that would become FedEx Custom Critical. As a 19-year-old single mother, Hood wanted a job that better suited her life, which involved caring for her young daughter and taking night classes.
A year later and Hood was working in the safety department. Over the years, Hood worked in many of the company's departments, including operations, marketing, sales and sourcing.
Aside from her determination to succeed, it was her speaking of her interest in leadership, offering strategic solutions and ideas that made her stand out from the crowd.
Hood successfully earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Walsh University and an executive MBA from Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management.