theGrio’s 100: Susan E. Chapman, digitizing workspaces 1 office at a time

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Susan Chapman (Photo by American Express/ Permission from Susan Chapman)

Susan Chapman (Photo by American Express/ Permission from Susan Chapman)

Who is Susan E. Chapman?

On paper, Susan E.Chapman seems nothing less than impressive. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Global Real Estate and Workplace Enablement for American Express, a company with over 65,000 employees in 41 countries. This ambitious businesswoman has been one of leading directors for some of the top fortune 500 companies. Her previous positions included the Global Chief Administrative Officer for Citigroup, where she spearheaded a $50 billion initiative for climate change.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, then you can’t expect anyone else to believe in you,” she said  in January to NAFE. “The only thing that stands in the way of what you want is you.”

Why is she on theGrio’s 100?

Aside from climbing the corporate ladder and becoming one of the few women of color in executive positions, Chapman has also proven to be heavily involved in minority leadership.

“The most important work I do is creating a pipeline for folks to come behind me,” she told The Network Journal. “I am very appreciative of the many opportunities that have been afforded me. I have to share it with others.”

Her volunteer work includes serving on various boards such as the Executive Leadership Foundation, Leadership Education and Development (LEAD), and A Better Chance, Girls Inc. She was also named “2008 Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York.  In an interview with Working Mother’s Media she says that mentors are critical to women’s executives success.

In 2010, she was named one of the “75 Most Powerful Women in Business” by Black Enterprise and received the Community Service Award from the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE).

What’s next for Chapman?

Susan continues to focus on driving innovation in built environments. At American Express, she is head-starting the creation of “Bluework,” an innovative workplace initiative in support of the digital transformation of the company. With this initiative, she is collaborating  with her extensive list of clientele to foster the complete digitization of work-spaces. Chapman argues that technology is critical to people’s workplace experience because it drives revenue growth and enables productivity.

Susan is also applying this same expertise in solving challenges in low income housing and in preserving sites that help communities to thrive.  She remains dedicated to her work with young people to help them grow into the next business leaders.

When asked what is her definition of a powerful black women, Chapman says, “Much is given, much is required. As far as being an African American woman, I know that I am one of very few African American women [in this position],” she told Rolling Out. “I’m in a unique position in an industry that traditionally has not been very diverse. I have a great great opportunity to bring many, many people along with me.”