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Randolph W. Cameron is an author, and former management associate in New York’s Avon distribution centre in Rye. He has also served as the director of inner city market development in the company’s New York head office.
He has also served as the vice president of D. Parke Gibson Associates, Inc, which is one of America’s first black marketing and communications consulting firm. He later on became the owner of Cameron Enterprises, a management consulting firm in New York.
In this book, he expresses his own thoughts and aspirations of mentoring minority leaders in the business world, especially ‘black’ executives. Author Cameron glances at the 1980s business events, which has concurrently represented some bad and good times for blacks, in the new corporate America.
Such good times can be marked by the achievement of Barry Rand, who was the president of Xerox’s U.S. Marketing Group, while the bad times during this period was signified by a stock market crash that mostly led to black managers feeling the axe of being downsized from various corporations around America. From this context, the Minority Executives’ Handbook becomes quite significant.
In this book, Cameron describes the scene in corporate environment, which is mainly characterized by the corporate attitude, punctuality, personal presentation, personal grooming, career planning, and the unbridled politicking.
He also emphasizes on having the right look for business and implores on black men to confine their facial hair to the more traditional mustache and nothing less short of that until they climb the corporate ladder and get into ‘real’ management.
By having and owning a corporate image, it creates a perception of knowledge and reliability, which will relatively matter both inside and outside the corporate. In his own view, author Cameron observes that every corporate has an exceptional way of doing business, which later defines the overall corporate culture.
He also confers in his sentiments, that black individuals who have aspirations in the business world, should first acquaint themselves on how information is passed informally while also being part of the relevant ‘office grapevines’. Although such office grapevines may help in keeping one a notch higher with significant information, Cameron however, cautions for a complete distinction from the mundane office gossip (Cameron, 1997).
Through case studies, Cameron enlightens the readers on the vivid picture of racism in the corporate world while also providing a check list, which describes a manager’s challenge in setting up an appropriate ambiance where people can realistically encourage themselves in utmost confidence. Such conditions set up a tone for corporate business since managers find it hard to motivate workers.
From Cameron’s perspective, a good number of young black managers usually step into the business arena with a ‘sizzling fire’ to impact the business world only to be smothered by the veterans.
In chapter three of this book, new minority managers are highly implored on self presentation, which is a fair perception than ones likeability. Cameron stresses need to maintain self identity due to the lily-white corporate scenery, which may occasionally rip through a young black manager’s background and leave them in a contradictory dilemma.
Through case studies, Cameron explores such unfortunate scenarios and this exemplifies his flamboyant managerial experience in the corporate communications business field (Cameron, 1997).
Mentoring and networking is vividly explored in the fourth chapter of this book with a major emphasis on diplomacy, personality engagement, tidy appearance, good memory, high energy and articulateness, which is generally characterized by good networkers.
Therefore, these elements will help in establishing inside and outside network of leads, which better positions the minority managers to have a superior understanding of competing in the market place. Someone who has a high level of willingness to display some degree of dedication to a career confirms Cameron’s definition of mentorship.
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He also suggests some question and answers on picking, choosing and being a relevant mentor (Cameron, 1997). He also adds that a good mentor is someone who will alert you to opportunities you would not be acquainted with on normal occasions. In this regard, Cameron suggests to minority managers to set up advance appointments with senior managers for the purpose of opening early channels for such opportunities when they arise.
By seeking and volunteering in various corporate projects, Cameron sees it as a good opportunity for the minority managers because it will put them in a better light and intently wipe out the past stigmas associated with them. He also illustrates how to save money for future ownership of business. The book closes from a networking guide to trade publications and groups point of view.
From Cameron’s book, I do observe his assertion that blacks are not as successful as whites in the business world due to the lack of inspiration. This bearing is quite contradictory in itself because to succeed in corporate America, there has to be a tremendous inspirational determination.
All minorities aspiring to shift on the new executive positions that arises must learn and know the written and unwritten rules that govern the corporate world since new employees are selected due to their expertise and ability to fit and judge the prevailing business environment.
This will therefore discourage employers from seeking ‘’their own kind’’ to indemnify acceptance of authority, loyalty and any other pattern of behavior that may lead to conformity.
African-Americans’ physical traits may differ them from the mainstream business executive but through assimilation, it may compromise for their integrity and credibility among their fellow employees and ultimately to their own selves.
Cameron, R. (1997). The Minority Executives’ Handbook. New York. Amistad Publishing. ISBN-156743021X, 9781567430219.