theGrio’s 100: Mellody Hobson, corporate powerhouse and George Lucas’ princess

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 14: Mellody Hobson attends the 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' Premiere at the Palais des Festivals during the 63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2010 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 14: Mellody Hobson attends the 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' Premiere at the Palais des Festivals during the 63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2010 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Who is Mellody Hobson?

Mellody Hobson, 43, has been in the headlines lately due her recent engagement to longtime boyfriend and film director George Lucas. But even before the Princeton University grad had the prominent Star Wars director by her side, Hobson had already climbed her way to the top, starting out as an intern to becoming the president of one of the most largest and successful African-American capital investment companies, Ariel Investments, LLC. She is in charge of the overseeing the firm’s management and strategic planning for over $3 billion in assets as well as managing operations outside of research and portfolio management.

In addition to being the leading lady at Ariel Investments, she’s also held positions as the director of various big name brands such as Starbucks, DreamWorks, Estee Lauder and Groupon. She is also a regular on-air finance contributor on ABC’s Good Morning America as well as a spokesperson for the annual Ariel/Schwab Black Investor Survey, which examines the investing habits of African-Americans.

Why is she on theGrio’s 100

Hobson has garnered visibility through her relationship with the Red Tails producer, but the ambitious investment capitalist became well-known in the corporate world before she met Lucas. In 2004, The Wall Street Journal named her one of 50 “Women to Watch” in the corporate world. Later that same year in 2004, Time magazine identified her as one of the 25 most influential people in business.

What’s next for Hobson?

With her engagement to Lucas all over the media, a close source to Hobson says that their wedding will take place in late spring at either Lucas’ hometown of San Francisco or in Chicago where Hobson is from. Hobson also recently announced at a Groupon mentoring program event that her mentor, former U.S. Senator and New York Knicks star Bill Bradley, will be giving her away at the couples’ wedding.

As for her billion-dollar investment company, she recommends investing in sports-related companies. Hobson said in the CFA annual conference that sports-related media and real estate companies are profitable in both good and bad economic times. Ariel Investments has already invested money in Madison Square Garden and the International Speedway.