Meet Keri Richardson, travelista, lifestyle aficionado and marketing maven. Keri Richardson is an AMG Product Manager at Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA). In this role, she is responsible for the development, planning, and launch of 13 Mercedes-AMG models, over 40% of total volume, for the US market.
Additionally at MBUSA, Richardson serves as the Head of Driveher, a company-wide business resource group, whose mission is to equip and prepare women within the organization to successfully take on roles of leadership. The black resource group also serves as a resource to the executive management team with an objective to make Mercedes-Benz, the number one luxury automotive brand among women.
Prior to joining Mercedes, Keri worked as a Strategy and Management Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton and the National Football League (NFL), as well as a Pricing Specialist for Coca Cola Enterprises. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Emory University in International Economics and French, and a master’s in business from Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
To continue our #MediaMayvenn series, we sat down with Richardson and spoke to her about her career and hair journeys and her best piece of advice for millennials with owning their truest selves while embracing their hair.
Dominique Fluker: Share your career journey. What led you down the path of Product Marketing? Talk to us about your role as an AMG Product Manager at Mercedes-Benz.
Keri Richardson: It's been quite an interesting journey so far. I have a background in finance, and I've worked for the National Football League, a few consulting firms, and now Mercedes-Benz. Throughout my career, I realized that what I loved, more than anything, was creating an experience and making fulfilling memories for people. And that’s exactly what I get to do in my current position with MB. In my role, I’m responsible for managing vehicles for the performance arm of the brand, Mercedes-AMG. So, the vehicles you see on the streets are built by my team and me. We select everything from upholsteries and paints to wheels and suspensions. I manage SUVs and compact cars, which accounts for about 40% of the AMG portfolio. I get to build people’s dream cars and that’s amazing.
Fluker: Talk to us about your hair journey. When did you fall in your love with your hair?
Richardson: Oh boy, I didn’t fall in love with my hair until I had to take care of it myself. Moving to Atlanta to attend Emory, I had to figure out a lot out my own. I didn’t have my mom to buy hair products every few weeks or tell me the proper amount of heat to use. Being natural wasn’t quite “in” yet, so it was work to do it all myself. I tried the Dominican blow outs because my friends put me on, but that wrecked my hair completely. So, I did a lot of protective styling to get it back to optimal health. I learned to respect my hair and listen to what it actually needed. It took a few years, but my hair really flourished. This was when I fell in love.
Fluker: What has been your hair journey within corporate America? Did you ever feel like you needed to alter your hair to fit in with the culture of the office?
Richardson: My hair journey has definitely evolved with my career. Corporate America is a tricky space to navigate as a woman of color. We make it a point not to have “additional distractions” in our way. As silly as that sounds, it’s the truth. At the start of my professional journey, I rarely wore my hair in curly styles. I would do lots of buns and straightened styles just to fit in. I wanted to be known for my work, not my hair. Now I’m at a place in my both my career and my life where I don’t leave pieces of myself at home. I am who I am, I know where I’m going, and my hair is coming with me. Luckily, Mercedes has a more inclusive culture than some Fortune 50s, so that makes us feel a little more comfortable letting their hair down. (pun intended ☺) I see all different types of styles every day and it's beautiful.
Fluker: What’s your favorite style to rock inside and outside of the office?
Richardson: A topknot. I love a simple topknot. It’s so elegant, and most importantly, it’s easy.
Fluker: Share your plans for your next hairstyle with us!
Richardson: I’m actually really excited about this. I’m going for a short blunt bob for my trip to France! It screams classic Parisian chic, so that's a must.
Fluker: What’s one piece of advice for a millennial woman struggling with owning their truest selves while embracing their hair?
Richardson: Do what you makes you feel beautiful and confident. Confidence affects us in a number of ways, but specifically it can have an impact your work. The culture has definitely shifted in Corporate America from where it was, not even ten years ago. Never be embarrassed or afraid to showcase who you are through your strands. I do still get the occasional ‘your hair is so cool’ in meetings when I come in with cornrows, but I embrace it. I’m helping to establish a norm. People know my work. And they know my hair. So when a new or younger employee comes in and has a natural or protective style, they will know that her hairstyle has no influence on her work product - just like anyone else.