Nikita Mitchell, a senior manager at IT company Cisco, says it was the 2016 election that spurred her to take action and found her newsletter, Above the Bottom Line.
“The inauguration happened last year, and like most people I was traumatized,” Mitchell says. “The immigration ban started shortly after.”
Mitchell recalls reading a story in The New York Times about CEOs who were speaking out against the immigration ban. At the time, she thought to herself: “I don’t think I’ve seen companies speak up as much as they have in the past few months, I wonder if there’s a resource for that.”
After searching though, Mitchell realized she just would have to create that resource. And so, Above the Bottom Line was born.
Above the Bottom Line is a weekly newsletter that tracks how major companies take stances on important issues. Sent every Tuesday, Above the Bottom Line covers issues like #MeToo, that Super Bowl commercial that used Martin Luther King Jr. to sell cars and, of course, the new Black Panther movie.
Mitchell’s career path has been far from linear. She grew up in Beltsville, Md., with a mother from Barbados and a father from Trinidad, who met while working at Howard University. Mitchell followed the family line and studied international business and finance at the HBCU.
“I knew I wanted to change the world, but I had no idea how,” Mitchell says. She worked at nonprofits but found that the industry took a toll on her mental health. So she quit and worked odd jobs while she worked to find her passion.
She dug into books like Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia and regularly read the Harvard Business Review. These reads helped Mitchell realize that she is passionate about making a change, but that she wanted to do it at a company, rather than at a nonprofit.
Eventually, she left the Washington, D.C., area and moved to California to attend the University of California, Berkeley. There she attended the Haas School of Business, receiving an MBA while acting as the president of the school’s Socially Responsible Investing Fund. After receiving her degree, Mitchell ended up at Cisco, where shecurrently works on strategy and planning.
Even though she works from home, Mitchell says managing a full-time job and a newsletter like Above The Bottom Line is hard work.
“I have had to give myself permission to let it fall when I had to,” she says. “When I was busy with work, just having designated times to working on my newsletter helped.”
Since its inception, Mitchell launched a Patreon, a crowdfunding campaign, to support her ongoing efforts. This has allowed her to hire an assistant who she is also mentoring.
As for what keeps Mitchell going?
“My greatest strength is my curiosity,” Mitchell says. “I want to get good at things.”
- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #42