Teresa Ward-Maupin: Championing Underrepresented Small Businesses
As Senior Vice President, Customer and Digital Experience for Comcast Business, Teresa Ward-Maupin leads Digital and Customer Experience strategy and execution for the company, including the launch and development of Comcast RISE, a multi-year commitment to provide small businesses owned by women and people of color with monetary grants, technology makeovers, and marketing services. Teresa also serves as the executive sponsor of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee for Comcast Business and as a member of the Comcast Cable National DE&I Leadership Council.
We recently spoke to her about the impact of Comcast RISE and what drives her to mentor and sponsor others. Read the conversation below to learn more.
Q: Why was Comcast RISE created?
A: “Comcast Business is the nation’s largest cable provider to small and mid-sized businesses, so we knew that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we could really make a difference there. Small businesses owned by people of color already face so many obstacles trying to start, scale, and grow their operations and the pandemic just exacerbated that. While many companies talked about their plans to support communities during this time, Comcast was one of the first to take meaningful action. We set out to determine how we can make the biggest impact, not just during this moment in time but to help businesses recover and prosper for the long term. Based on the program’s success, and to continue to help address the systemic lack of support, resources, and funding to underrepresented small business owners, we’ve recently extended eligibility to include all women-owned businesses, regardless of race or ethnicity. Our goal is to truly lift businesses up.”
Q: Tell us one of your favorite success stories from the program.
A: “Right here in Philadelphia, it is always wonderful to hear the stories of local businesses in the area that have gained the confidence to grow and evolve through their resiliency and our support. Dr. Sanul Corrielus who owns Corrielus Cardiology, received technology support to be able to see patients online when in-person visits were no longer an option due to the pandemic. It’s a great feeling to know that his business was able to thrive through the increased accessibility and that he could keep more members of the community healthy and thriving as well.”
Q: You have such a collaborative nature, how have you used that to create success for Comcast Business and Comcast RISE?
A: “My focus in Comcast Business is on our customer needs, so I leverage my marketing expertise, and knowledge of software and technology, to inform our business goals especially as we continuously improve the digital and overall customer experiences. It is also a priority of mine to creative a culture that encourages my team to work together utilizing their subject matter expertise to manage even the most complex projects.”
“Through championing the next generation of leaders, I believe that we can create long-term success for programs like Comcast RISE. That’s why it’s important to me to offer whatever I can to my communities – whether that is within our organization as the executive sponsor of the DE&I committee for Comcast Business, the people I mentor or through local and national programs that drive access to STEM skills for youth like Black Girls Code.”
Q: Do you have an example of a mentor that made a difference for you in your career?
A: “I have a mentor who has made a difference in every facet of my life for the past 20 years. His name is Melvin McArthur. I am so glad I met Melvin early in my career. At the time, there were very few people of color in technology leadership positions and even fewer females. As a Black woman, I was dealing with somewhat of an “imposter syndrome” – doubting whether I was good enough even though I had the experience and credentials to prove otherwise. Melvin understood this and because he had already been there himself, helped me to overcome and navigate many obstacles. He reminded me that I was not given a seat at the table, I earned it. His faith-based perspectives have taught me to be humble and to pay-it-forward. That is why I sponsor and mentor so many young people today. Navigating corporate America can be challenging and having someone like Melvin in my corner, who understood the obstacles I faced, supported me, and wasn’t afraid to offer direct and constructive criticism when needed, was invaluable. It is for these reasons that I make it a point to be an ally to all the people I sponsor and mentor.”
Q: What’s next for Comcast RISE?
A: “I’ve been so proud of how we’ve been able to support entrepreneurs of color with marketing services, tech upgrades, and monetary grants. And I could not be more pleased that we’ve expanded the program to all women business owners so that we can continue to grow the positive momentum. The number of women owning businesses is rapidly increasing and at the same time, they have limited access to capital and debt-free funding options. This presents a tremendous opportunity to partner. Overall, we aim to support 13,000 small businesses by the end of 2022, helping many entrepreneurs build community wealth in neighborhoods across the country.”
Q: Personally, what does Comcast RISE mean to you?
A: “While I’ve had great experiences in my career, launching startups, and transforming areas of the business in previous roles, I’ve never led an initiative with the kind of impact Comcast RISE has been having on communities, small businesses, and even our employees. It’s been an unbelievable and a lifechanging experience for me and all of the employees who support this program at Comcast HQ and in our divisions and regions.”
Under Teresa’s leadership, nearly 6,700 entrepreneurs nationwide have been selected as Comcast RISE recipients, receiving marketing support, technology services or a monetary grant. Initiatives like Comcast RISE are part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive $1 billion commitment to help advance digital equity and build a future of unlimited possibilities.