Intuitive’s Kamilah Brewton on Establishing Her Space as a Woman of Color in Business was originally published on Power to Fly.
Despite it being an area infamous for violence and discrimination, Kamilah Brewton is proud of where she comes from.
“I smile when I say that I’m from the South Side of Chicago because it’s contributed to my survival and grit,” she says.
This area of the city is historically underfunded which has led to the impoverishment of many of its inhabitants, a context that gave Kamilah exposure to two distinct realities.
“I grew up in an area that consisted of Black professional families, and it seemed like we were in a bubble. We also had the opportunity to step outside of that bubble and experience the city for all it was worth. The grim and the grit that makes us hustlers also makes us stronger.”
It’s exactly that strength that has helped her forge a path in the male-dominated world of business and which has led to her success as an enterprise solutions manager at Intuitive, a global leader in medical technology.
We sat down with Kamilah to learn how she has established herself and has achieved success in a work environment that was once resistant to accepting her as an equal.
The Challenges Faced by WOC in Business
Many of the women who have made it in the corporate world have accredited some of their success to a mentor. But Kamilah didn’t have that luxury.
“When it comes to forming mentorships, very often you find commonalities,” she notes. “You find things that allow you to connect. And when you have limited examples of Black female leadership in organizations, you’re essentially trailblazing on your own.”
In addition to minimal representation, she was often misunderstood by her peers.
“A lot of my talents were invalidated or seen as aggressive or temperamental because I didn’t approach certain nuanced things the way my colleagues did,” she recalls. “So I spent a lot of time trying to redefine what a Black female could do and could contribute to an organization.”
Kamilah essentially had to do two jobs: making her coworkers aware of her talents while also trying to progress in the business world. Because of this double work, she experienced numerous moments of feeling isolated and misunderstood. But it was her Chicago grit that pushed her forward.
“At times when I wanted to get upset, I had to bite my tongue, go in the bathroom, consume all of my emotions, and come back out and be ready,” she shares.
Carving a Career in Medical Sales
So how did Kamilah end up working in a field that was so resistant to her presence?
It started with an interest in advertising.
While she studied journalism in college, she focused more on the advertising side, which is what eventually led her to sales. Now, she currently works in medical device sales for Intuitive.
“Currently, I’m the enterprise solutions manager for the Carolinas market,” she explains. “What I do is remove roadblocks to the adoption of robotic surgery for different health systems. I align their priorities with what Intuitive’s goals are and make sure that their clinical teams, surgeons, OR staff, and patients get the access to robotics they deserve.”
Kamilah has dedicated 20 years to learning about medical technology and has seen how this technology affects patients within the medical system.
“How we treat patients is very indicative of the world that we live in,” she points out. “And I have the opportunity as an enterprise solutions manager to see patients’ needs from every single dimension, try to create opportunities from the things that are important to them, and make sure that the resources we have at Intuitive align to complete adoption of this technology.”
Kamilah takes pride in introducing the technology that offers patients a minimally invasive approach.
Thriving at Intuitive
When Kamilah started working at Intuitive, she felt content with their work environment and culture.
“The culture of Intuitive historically has been high performance,” she explains. “Intuitive has offered me a hands-on MBA in life. They have challenged and stimulated me beyond anything I had experienced before.”
Along with working in Intuitive’s environment of excellence and innovation, they have also provided Kamilah an opportunity to build generational wealth and pave the way for others.
“I owe it to Intuitive to keep going so they can continue to bring on more young black women,” she says. “I want them to come here and see the generational wealth opportunity they have in front of them.”
Advice for WOC in Business
Kamilah wants to be the mentor figure she lacked at her professional start and is dedicated to passing the torch to women of color so that they can reach their career goals and build generational wealth for their families. She offers the following advice to women of color in business:
1. Be intentional. “When I say be intentional, I mean sit down and think about why you’re doing what you’re doing every day,” she advises. “What are you hoping to get from it?” To help with this intentionality, Kamilah also recommends defining personal and professional goals.
2. Create a core group of people to surround yourself with. Kamilah suggests this core consist of three to five people whom you can lean on and be vulnerable with. She elaborates, “A core that is going to protect you and comfort you but give you the truth. That core doesn’t necessarily have to be black women. It should be a mix of people around you to help you see where your gaps are and where your opportunities are. That core should applaud you whenever it can.”
3. Reach back and support others. “Teach someone every time you learn something good or bad,” she advises. “The only way our community is going to grow is by constantly contributing to the growth of other people.” This process of reaching back can take various forms through mentorship, through talking to younger nieces and cousins.
If you’re looking to grow in an environment that supports the work you do and allows you to help others, check out these openings at Intuitive.