Mellody Hobson

Ariel Investments President

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What Are You Bad At?

I'm bad at a lot of things, and I tell them that. So the first thing I tell people that, if you were someone that needs to be held I am the wrong person to…

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What Is Your Corporate Culture?

There are ways that I try to define that culture to make sure that we really do stand out. We want to be a company where we want to work. That's always been our idea.…

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How Do You Compete With Rivals?

We see our competitors as friends. If it can't be Ariel for an investment management assignment, there are friends that we will recommend. When we sit on boards of companies or we're in positions on…

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What Is the Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?

I would say the very, very, very best advice I've ever gotten came from my mother who started, when I was very little, saying the exact same rhyme to me for years, and years, and…

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What Was the Worst Advice Someone Gave You?

It's not even one, it's just a composite of advice. It's advice to try to make you something that you're not. We can only be who we are, we can't show up differently. So advice…

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How Do You Come up With Your Best Ideas?

By really observing and reading about others you can see a germ of an idea in an unrelated industry, a company that's doing completely different things, and I'm always asking myself how can I apply…

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What Advice Would You Give a First-Time Manager?

The best advice I could give to a first time manager is to not be what you think people expect you to be. I think a lot of managers go at the job of managing…

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What Is Your Must-Ask Job Interview Question?

What are they really good at? World class, at Ariel we call it your "towering strength", the thing that you do better than anyone else. I always find people have things that they can immediately…

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What Is Your Idea of Work-Life Balance?

I have no idea of work-life balance, none. It's one of those questions you get all the time, and I always tell people [that] I'm stuck, because it suggests that when you're working you're not…

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How Do You Put Workplace Diversity Into Action?

Diversity is an issue I feel very strongly about. At Ariel, it's in our DNA, this idea that we want different kinds of people coming together to solve really hard problems, which is what you…

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What Is Your Biggest Time-Saving Trick?

So, my best advice for saving time is to spend money getting help. This is something, actually, I've thought a lot about from when I was 22 years old. I think a lot of people overvalue…

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How Do You Give Critical Feedback?

I think the feedback issue is one of the most challenging issues that entrepreneurs and companies, for that matter, in general face. I think a lot of people say they want feedback and when you…

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What’s Your Biggest Career Mistake?

I think like many people, my biggest career mistake has had to do with people. Either choices that I made that weren't right or sitting with an issue with a person for too long, not…

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How Do You Find a Needle in a Haystack?

Well I love Warren Buffett's answer to this question. He says, people always ask him, "How do I find a needle in a haystack?" and he says, "I just look for haystacks."

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How Do You Fire Someone?

You try to be very compassionate when you let someone go. I'm always trying to think, what would I want someone to say to me? How would I want them to treat me? There are…

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Are Entrepreneurs Born or Can They Be Made?

I actually think you're born an entrepreneur. There are things you learn along the way that make you a better entrepreneur, but I think you have to have a constitution for being an entrepreneur in…

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What’s the Biggest Mistake When Raising Money?

The number one mistake I think people make when they're raising money for their company or their funds is that they underestimate how much money they need. Whatever the number is that you think you…

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What's Your Power Food?

Okay, I think my power food, I have to think about what we have in our kitchen at Ariel that I go to when I'm starving. I'm just going to go with peanuts. When all…

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How Do You Make Meetings More Effective?

I think I try to make one-on-one meetings with my teammates most effective by making sure we get to the point. If there's something we're trying to solve for, that we are very clear of…

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Have You Ever Cried at Work?

I've cried in the office many times. I actually, I'm not embarrassed by it, I'm not. It just is, I believe people should be themselves. If you have honest emotions I am not one to…

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When Is It Okay to Yell at Someone?

I don't think people can hear you when you yell. Now that doesn't mean I have not had very, very tough conversations with people that probably have made them very uncomfortable. But, I don't think…

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How Do You Stay in Touch With Employees as You Rise Through the Ranks?

I think the one thing that happens over time the more successful you become, the bigger the title you get is that you have to recognize that you become very intimidating to other people. It…

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"On Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015"

Mellody Hobson is responsible for firm-wide management and strategic planning, overseeing all operations outside of research and portfolio management for Ariel Investments. Additionally, she serves as chairman of the board of trustees for Ariel Investment Trust.

Beyond her work at Ariel, Mellody has become a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy and investor education. She is a regular contributor and analyst on finance, the markets and economic trends for CBS News. She also contributes weekly money tips on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and pens a column for Black Enterprise magazine.

As a passionate advocate for investor education, she is a spokesperson for the Ariel/Hewitt Study 401(k) Plans in Living Color and the Ariel Black Investor Survey, both of which examine investing patterns among minorities. Mellody is a director of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and Starbucks Corporation.

Her community outreach includes serving as chairman of After School Matters, a non-profit organization that provides Chicago teens with high-quality out-of-school programs. She is chair of The Economic Club of Chicago’s board of directors, a board member of The Chicago Public Education Fund, the George Lucas Education Foundation, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and the Sundance Institute, where she has been appointed emeritus trustee. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors. In 2015, Mellody was named to Time Magazine’s annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world.

Mellody earned her AB from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. She has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, St. Mary’s College and the University of Southern California.