Monica McCoy is an award-winning global speaker, business strategist and consultant. She founded Monica Motivates in 2017 to offer education and consulting services to women and underrepresented entrepreneurs.
Formerly Global Director of Strategy and Innovation at the Coca-Cola Company, Monica founded Pitch University in 2018, an interactive workshop teaching founders core strategies and tactics from multinational companies. Monica was named the 2019 Start Up Atlanta Equity Champion, a 2020 American Express Founder of Change and was ranked among the 2021 Porsche Driven Women.
Monica Motivates helps formerly incarcerated women learn the skills of entrepreneurship with Pivot Purposefully.
I am a business strategist, consultant and Fortune 100 global speaker who is passionate about helping organisations unlock the power of their people and suppliers to deliver stronger results. I enjoyed a successful and exciting corporate career with The Coca-Cola Company (receiving 12 promotions in 15 years) and served most recently as the Acting Global Director, Strategy and Innovation, McDonald’s Division before launching my own business.
In 2017, I founded Monica Motivates, LLC, and now every day I get to do what I love: help individuals and organisations build capacity. We help top companies develop their high-potential talent and provide the skills and connections that enable entrepreneurs to found and grow their own businesses. One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is that we often connect small and large businesses with one another. One reason our company is growing rapidly is that we help organisations unlock more of the talent already present in their ranks, and we connect well-prepared small business owners with opportunities to become diverse suppliers to major corporations. Those mutually beneficial relationships help founders grow their visibility and businesses while also giving large companies access to innovative products and services, greater supply chain competitiveness and a robust vehicle for delivering on their stated social commitments. We work with multinational corporations, including Microsoft and Santander, across the globe to unlock the power of people.
We have launched a number of unique solutions, many targeted at increasing contributions from underrepresented team members and suppliers. That includes The BRIDGE, a solution that trains and then connects underrepresented entrepreneurs in the commercial real estate sector with the companies who need their goods and services. Our Rural Accelerator performs a similar role in helping companies tap into the talents of women and underrepresented entrepreneurs located in rural areas where it can be particularly difficult for founders to gain the visibility and the resources to connect with the larger organisations who will benefit from their businesses.
We also offer company-specific programs that take a fresh look at entrenched processes to find new ways to develop overlooked or underutilised talent through our Blueprint for Opportunities, which brings an entrepreneurial mindset to corporate professionals.
In addition to our Pitch University for founders, and Activate – which helps early career professionals develop more fully (and helps employers retain them) –, we are particularly proud of our non-profit, Pivot Purposefully. This innovative program utilises current and former business executives to equip formerly incarcerated women with strategies to found or grow their own businesses and increase their contributions to their families and communities.
I’ve always been clear about what I want to do, but I also remain very open to where opportunities present themselves and where I feel I can make the biggest impact. One of my core beliefs is that we all have more potential than we recognise and that we often need outside help and support to realise it. The most rewarding part of my career is helping to empower people who have so much to contribute but may not have the access or specific skill sets to catapult them into the arena. I never imagined that my company would grow as quickly as it is, or that I’d be working so closely with so many amazing partners and leading companies at this point, but following my passion is what has brought us together and what energizes my work with clients.
Starting your own business is a rollercoaster ride and I think I’ve experienced ten things that didn’t work out, or ten failures, for every big win. Of course, it’s never easy, but I really do try to celebrate failures because I consistently find that I learn so much more from those than I do from successes. The key for me has been disciplining myself to view trial and error as crucial feedback and to actually prepare for failure by thinking about what we will do next and how we will counter setbacks when they inevitably come. That way, failure becomes learning that actually accelerates progress.
What I’m most proud of in my professional life is the team we have put together at Monica Motivates and how we work together to drive change for others. We are a diverse group of entrepreneurs, educators, artists, engineers, designers, women and men, and people of varied races, ethnicities and backgrounds united in our shared purpose of helping all people, including those often overlooked, to increase their capacity to contribute.
There are so many things that come together to create positive outcomes. Something that has helped tilt the scales for me is my steadfast belief that progress is possible in almost every situation. I am a hardcore optimist and, for the most part, that serves me well. I recognise the hurdles that exist, especially for women and people of colour, but I know with certainty that each of us will be more successful professionally and personally when we understand the challenges, master the skill sets required to overcome them, and have a champion who can help you appreciate and exploit your own potential. I am honoured when I get to be that champion for others. I’m also a person of faith and that often sustains me.
The research is so clear on the power of mentoring to help people overcome weaknesses, build on strengths and better understand organisation dynamics. We know that mentored team members receive higher salaries and more promotions and are more satisfied with their careers. The strongest mentoring relationships are built on an authentic connection with someone you trust and respect, and then that person’s ability to challenge, encourage and guide you.
I have been greatly enriched by numerous mentors in various aspects of my life. One of my most powerful professional mentors is a gentleman who is a CFO of a significant company. His insights have been particularly valuable in helping to ensure that I explore all relevant and appropriate business strategies as I work to rapidly scale my own business. I still turn to him regularly for his insights and for a little push to reach higher. I hope I serve that same function for all of the people on the Monica Motivates team, and I enjoyed mentoring other team members when I worked at Coca-Cola. One of my greatest sources of satisfaction is the contribution I can make to another’s growth.
There is so much powerful data about how gender-diverse and ethnically diverse workplaces drive stronger performance, yet women continue to face barriers at every career step that men do not. And those barriers are even higher for women of colour and LGBTQ+ members. I believe that informed is empowered, so we always start with data to help individual women, as well as both male and female company leaders, understand that we have not yet achieved gender equity and there is no time to rest. Change starts with individuals understanding that the status quo is not working, where things are breaking down and that change is possible. Then, we move on to strategies that make a difference on both the individual and company level. There are few things more gratifying than watching diverse entrepreneurs graduating from programs such as our Global Supplier Diversity Accelerator (GSDA), pitching to corporate executives and seeing both sides light up with the possibilities and potential of working together.
The more I progress in my career and in building Monica Motivates into a global consultancy, the more I respect the concepts of flexibility and adaptability. Establishing a clear direction, and setting goals in concert with that, is foundational. But once the journey begins, there are going to be twists and turns and you need to be ready to pivot. Every day, I encounter both unexpected obstacles and opportunities; the power comes in striking a balance between sheer persistence and creative adaptability. I call that giving your goals some “fluidity.”
I’m especially excited about launching our new London office, in addition to new offices in South Carolina and Alabama, to complement our Atlanta headquarters. These are examples of fluid goals in action. I had not anticipated this growth so early in our history, but all of us at Monica Motivates are encouraged to see more doors opening for talented people who may not have been at the table before, and we are committed to doing everything we can to prepare individuals and organisations to make the most of these new opportunities.