Tag Archives: Woman to Watch

Woman to Watch: Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Birthplace: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK

Occupation: Actress

Education: Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London

Family Affair: Her father, Patrick, is a South African doctor and her mother, Anne, is a English nurse. Her parents separated when she was a year old. She remains close to her father, and she was raised by her mother in the town of Witney, Oxfordshire.

Paying Her Dues: Gugu’s mastery of Shakespeare led to her first professional role in an Open Air production of “As you Like It,” playing the role of Celia. Soon after she landed roles at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in “Antony and Cleopatra,” and the title role of Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” It wasn’t long before she caught the attention of the critics and the public eye after her performance as Ophelia opposite Jude Law’s ‘Hamlet’ in the Donmar Warehouse production of ‘Hamlet’ which ran in the West End, followed by a successful run on Broadway. Her British television credits include “M15,” “Dr. Who,” “Marple: Ordeal By Innocence,” “Bonekickers,” and “Fallout.” .

Accolades: In 2005, she won the Manchester Evening News Award for Best Actress and in 2008 she was selected as a Star of Tomorrow by industry magazine Screen International.

Triple Threat: Gugu is not only a talented actress but she is also a singer, dancer and plays the saxophone. She joined the Oxford Youth Music Theatre when she was in her teens.

Big Break: Beginning September 22, 2010, Gugu will star opposite Boris Kodjoe in the new NBC drama “Undercovers”. This will mark Gugu’s first major American television debut.

Fun Fact: Her full name is Gugulethu and it means “our pride” in Zulu.


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Woman to Watch: Suzanne Shank

Occupation: President and CEO of Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., LLC, since its inception in October 1996.

Education: Graduate of The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with a Masters of Business Administration in Finance, and the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

Previous Career: Suzanne functioned as an engineer with General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division, where she worked as a Design Engineer on various design projects.

Childhood Dream: To become a Social Worker

What She Does Now: As a founder and co-owner of the company and a member of its board of directors, Shank has participated in municipal financings totaling more than $356 million. Suzanne has led financings for large-scale projects for many issuers, including in the Northeast, the cities of New York, Philadelphia and the State of Connecticut.

History Maker: Siebert Brandford Shank is the largest minority- and women-owned municipal finance firm. They have been lead manager in issuance of $5 billion in tax-exempt bonds.

Awards and Recognition: Suzanne was honored by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the “50 Most Influential Black Women in Business” (February 2006 Issue), and as one of the “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street” (October 2005 and October 2006). She has also been recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of the 40 outstanding leaders under 40. Additionally, she was named National Entrepreneur of the Year by the Madame CJ Walker Center and named as one of  “Metropolitan Detroit’s Most Influential Black Women” by the Women’s Informal Network (Detroit and Wayne County).

Volunteer Efforts: She has a deep commitment to and passion for public service as evidenced by her contribution to charities that help those less fortunate. She spearheaded the formation of the Detroit Summer Finance Institute, an internship program that has introduced more than 70 high school students to the financial world in the past three years. She also is vice president of the founding board of W.A.V.E., an initiative to help poor residents pay their water utility bills. Ms. Shank serves as a Board member of CAMERA, the Caribbean American Mission for Education Research in Action, which links educators and educational institutions to develop and implement programs that support, augment and strengthen the capacity and capabilities of educational systems in the Caribbean and the region that includes Philadelphia, the District of Columbia and New York. She is also a founding member of the Michigan Women in Finance and is a member of the Board of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Recently she served a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the Bond Market Association, and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

Family Ties: “My favorite undertaking in life is raising my two daughters, Devin and Camryn, with my husband,”

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