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Essence Ventures Hires Caroline Wanga as New Chief Growth Officer

6/17/2020, noon | Updated on 6/17/2020, noon

Essence Ventures Hires Caroline Wanga as New Chief Growth Officer

Essence Ventures, the independent Black-owned consumer technology company focused on merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color, recently announced that Caroline Wanga will be joining as Chief Growth Officer, effective June 29.

In the newly created role, Wanga will lead new growth opportunities, market strategy and culture across the Essence Ventures portfolio, which includes ESSENCE Communications, Inc., Afropunk and Naturally Curly, among others.

Wanga will join Essence Ventures from Target, where she currently serves as Chief Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Vice President of Human Resources.

“We could not be more thrilled to have Caroline join our team at Essence Ventures to help provide the guidance, leadership and cohesion required to accelerate the growth of our portfolio of purpose-driven and community-centric brands,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder and chair, Essence Ventures.

“As we look to continue to serve people of color with the most prolific brands—whether ESSENCE, Afropunk, Naturally Curly or others—she will play a critical role in our cross-portfolio strategic positioning. We look forward to her joining our family and partnering with us to transform our brands in service to our communities in an even more holistic and unified way.”

Most recently, Wanga led Target’s strategic intent to champion an inclusive society with accountability for inclusive guest experiences, a diverse and inclusive work environment and societal impact. As a cultural catalyst, she helped fuel Target’s business objectives through the company’s first-ever performance based D&I goals, significantly improving areas including Supplier Diversity, Marketing, Philanthropy, Retention, Hiring, Representation and Engagement. She also had responsibility for reshaping Target’s organizational culture.

“Over the course of her nearly 15 years with the company, Caroline’s contributions have been significant, and it’s been rewarding to support her as she’s grown as a leader during her time at Target,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO, Target. “In recent years, she championed our approach to diversity and inclusion and built a leading strategy that drove measurable and meaningful results across the enterprise. As Caroline often shares, ‘we all have a role to play,’ and thanks to her leadership, that’s a call to action the entire Target team fully embraces. We look forward to extending Caroline’s legacy at Target as she joins Essence Ventures, one of our longstanding partners.”

Wanga began her Target career in supply chain, serving in a variety of transformational leadership roles, including modernizing Supply Chain, Business Intelligence, Digital and Strategy capabilities. Prior to that, she held several non-profit roles.

“Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible people and partners to drive business objectives, including diversity, inclusion, and culture efforts,” said Wanga. “I believe that a commitment to building communities is the path to success, and I am eager to continue on this path forward in my new role at Essence Ventures as I bring my experience to bear to advance the brands, provide increased value to partners and above all, develop more purposeful approaches to serving communities of color.”

Wanga earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from HBCU Texas College and is an inspirational thought leader and public speaker. She has been named a Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise and one of Savoy’s Most Powerful Women in Corporate America; is a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the Talladega College Board of Trustees, and the Intersectionality, Culture, and Diversity Advisory Board for Twitter; and is former co-chair of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Diversity & Inclusion Initiative.