Boston’s Great Connector

Who needs LinkedIn when you’ve got Colette Phillips? —By Olivia Gehrke

Illustration source courtesy of Colette Phillips

I created Get Konnected! as a networking event in 2008 because Boston can be a very challenging city to navigate and figure out who you should connect with. I also got a little tired of going to networking events where, often, there was a dearth of people of color. I thought a networking event that brings people together was a great way to break down barriers.

Increasing diversity and inclusion in a workplace is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. When a company has senior management or a board of directors or a workforce that is reflective of the marketplace, they just tend to do better. It should be one of the top priorities in a company.

One company that is making real progress in diversity in corporate Boston is Eastern Bank, in terms of both gender and racial diversity. The chairman and CEO, Robert Rivers, is leading by example by working to chip away at some of the obstacles to wealth creation within communities of color.

The most important lesson I learned from my mother is that a person’s character is not defined by the size of their pocketbook or their investment portfolio, but by their acts of kindness.

Phillips at a Glance

Born in: Antigua
Now lives in: Brookline
Gig: President and CEO of Colette Phillips Communications; founder of Get Konnected!

One piece of career advice I give to people is to take the first step. If we’re going to grow and succeed, if we’re going to build bridges of understanding between each other, we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone.

Friday nights are what I call my “MN.” It’s “Me Night,” because it’s the end of the week, and I very seldom do anything after work. So the masseuse comes to my home, and I even have my own massage table.

I wrote 21 Steps for Women to Win to discuss the lessons that are not taught at Harvard Business School. Just common-sense things: Have a plan, don’t grow your business or your career too fast, and also find quiet time to center yourself, because you’re not an automaton.

Someone who comes up often on my Konnect lists, which recognize the most influential people of color in Boston, is Frederica Williams. She is the very innovative CEO of Whittier Street Health Center, and she is doing some groundbreaking work.

One book everyone should read is Getting There & Staying There, by my dear friend Dr. Priscilla Douglas. It’s focused on your profession: How do you get yourself to the top of your career? Sometimes it’s easier to get to the top than it is to stay at the top.

Near my ’hood in Brookline, my go-to restaurant is Legal Sea Foods. I love seafood, and you can’t have a bad meal at Legal.