When Lillian arrived at the Harvard Business School in September 1967 (actually she arrived at Radcliffe College graduate dormitory because women were not allowed to live in the accommodations at the Business School), her first thought was “Why am I here!” Harvard was the top business school in the world for training managers and she was encouraged to go there. The first class of women was admitted to HBS in 1963. African American women had never attended. Even upon her arrival, the school was not totally ready to embrace the presence of women. Dormitories were
When Lillian arrived at the Harvard Business School in September 1967 (actually she arrived at Radcliffe College graduate dormitory because women were not allowed to live in the accommodations at the Business School), her first thought was “Why am I here!” Harvard was the top business school in the world for training managers and she was encouraged to go there. The first class of women was admitted to HBS in 1963. African American women had never attended. Even upon her arrival, the school was not totally ready to embrace the presence of women. Dormitories were still designed to house men only. Hence, the need for female students to live at Radcliffe, requiring them to walk a half mile to classes. This was the beginning of another interesting journey in her life.
Born on a farm in the segregated South, at the age of 18 and fresh out of high school, she journeyed to New York City and Washington, DC to seek her fortune. After four years of floundering and enduring jobs as a maid and typist, she realized her mother was right. She needed more education. First she ventured to Howard University for her BA degree; then she applied to Harvard Business School for her MBA - encouraged by her mentor at Howard who assured her she was “Harvard material”. Here she ran into a brick wall! Her application was rejected. She had taken her mentor at his word about being “Harvard material” and did not properly prepare for the admission process. She had taken admission for granted. The rejection letter was an eye opener. Instead of accepting this as defeat, she took it on as a challenge; found out why she was not admitted and took the necessary steps to assure admission. Her persistence caused her to achieve a historical milestone as the first African American Woman to receive a Harvard MBA.
In 2003, Harvard Business School awarded her the Alumni Achievement Award, the highest award bestowed on its alumni. The award recognizes recipients for “their contributions made to their companies and communities, while upholding the highest standards and values in everything they do.”
Four jobs and six years after getting her MBA, she became a barrier-breaking entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry. The company, operating in six states, grew to a $20 million enterprise with more than 1,200 employees. It was sold after 25 years and she started two other ventures before beginning her career as speaker and author.
A captivating speaker she speaks about the power of persistence, resilience, courage and morality in surmounting hurdles that prevent people from reaching their full potential. As the first African American woman to receive a Harvard Business School MBA, during the tumultuous 1960’s, then becoming a barrier-breaking entrepreneur in the mid 1970’s, she draws on her life experiences from the farm to Harvard, to show how to use obstacles and barriers as stepping stones to higher levels of achievement. Her background, education and experiences have given her insights into what it takes to come from incredibly challenging circumstances and achieve a successful personal and professional life. Using the power of storytelling, she inspires audiences to dream big, act bold and pave their own paths. Her message speaks volumes, offering guidance, hope and inspiration for anyone who is striving to achieve a better life. Her mission now is to serve as an inspiration to others just as so many inspired her as they pushed her further than she thought she could go.
Some of her numerous awards include:
* Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award, its highest honor for alumni
* TheHistoryMakers inductee – A national organization dedicated to preserving African American
* Small Business Person of the Year, State of Maryland
* Library of Virginia, Virginia Women in History recipient
* Enterprising Women Hall of Fame inductee
* Harvard Business School’s African American Alumni Association’s Bert King Award
* MBA of the Year, Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association
Lillian is an iconic part of American history, and an inspiration for anyone who faces obstacles that they need to overcome in order to achieve their goals. Her wisdom comes from her own experiences, her ongoing studies with leading executive development and coaching programs, and the people she attracts. Lillian is a great listener, and a thoughtful and wise coach who will ground you in confidence, competence, and the right path to take for success.- Andrew Neitlich, Owner, Center for Executive Coaching
The Huizenga Business School at Nova Southeastern University had the pleasure of hosting Lillian Lincoln Lambert as our Distinguished Lecture Series speaker last week. It was a huge success and inspirational with students, faculty, staff, and the business community.- Jade Chen, Director, Development, Nova Southeastern University
She shared her story and provided valuable advice, allowing students and guests to see the possibilities in life. We thank Lillian for giving generously of her time and sharing her great life experiences with us.
• My Journey: Lessons Learned Along the Way
• Moving from Inertia to Awareness
• Aspire and Inspire
• Breaking the Mold
• The Importance of Education and it Relevance for Success
• Staying Ahead of the Curve
• Victor or Victim: The Choice is Yours
Article links to a 4-part interview for blackenterprise.com
Her programs are centered on the power of persistence, resilience, courage and morality in surmounting hurdles that prevent people from reaching their full potential.
A captivating speaker, she uses the power of storytelling as she shares her experiences “from the farm to Harvard” during the tumultuous 1960’s.
Her message speaks volumes, offering guidance, hope and inspiration for anyone who is striving to achieve a better professional and/or personal life.
She inspires audiences to dream big, act bold and pave their own paths using their obstacles and barriers as stepping stones to higher levels of achievement and success.
She authored her memoir: The Road to Someplace Better: From the Segregated South to Harvard Business School and Beyond. It chronicles her journey in great detail.
She is certified by the Center for Executive Coaching and specialized in executive leadership coaching.
She's an excellent media resource on a range of topics:
Success, entrepreneurship, faith, women's issues, race, self-improvement, aging, retirement, morality, education, team building, and leadership.
Sample “media outlets” where Lillian has been featured:
• Blog Talk Radio
• ABC's Good Morning America
• Time Magazine
• Inc. Magazine
• Washington Post
• Washington Business Journal
• HistoryMakers Biography Page
Success Tips From Harvard's First African-American Female MBA
Do You Have The Attitude Of A Leader?
Like Oprah, Know When It's Time to Let Go
• African American Golfer's Digest (Fall 2010)
• Urban Views Weekly - “Lillian Lambert's Road to Success Began at Home”
• The Mechanicsville Local - “Lambert Receives Honors”
• Howard University Magazine (p34) - “A Trailblazing Road To Entrepreneur Success”
• Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin - “A Remarkable Life Story”
• Enterprising Women Magazine - “2010 Enterprising Women of the Year Awards”
• Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Lambert helps people find The Road To Someplace Better”
“Entrepreneur cherishes role as mom”
“Relentlessly define, pursue goals, urges Harvard grad”
“Women Share Ideas on Business”
“A Life of Breaking Through Barriers”
• Black MBA Magazine - “A Way Out of No Way”
• News 12 - Connecticut
• NBC 12 WWBT – Richmond, VA
• CBS 6 WTVR – Richmond, VA
• FOX 4 “Morning Blend” – Cape Coral, FL
• Black Enterprise Magazine - “Go With Your Gut”
• Richmond Free Press - “South Africa on Her Mind”
• Herald Tribune, Sarasota, Florida
• Powhatan Today - “From Ballsville to the Ivy League”
• Belle | Style Weekly's Magazine for Richmond Women - “Degrees of Ambition”
• Noble and Greenough student publication - “From Segregation to Success”
• Women In Business
• Upscale Magazine