BWTT Presents Founder Friday Series: Latesha Byrd

Latesha Byrd is the founder and CEO of Perfeqta– a talent development agency that helps companies build high-performing teams and put equity into talent. They work with high-growth startups looking to enhance company culture to recruit better, retain, and advance talent. Aside from being the CEO, Latesha is a Certified Career Coach, talent developer, and advocate for creating safe spaces and building equitable communities. 

With a decade of experience in DE&I fields and talent acquisition, she has directly impacted the career journey of many across the globe. Her virtual membership and career coaching experience, the Career Chasers Members Club, has a community of over 600 women of color throughout the U.S, Africa, and Europe. 

She has been featured in several publications, including New York Times, Forbes,  and Black Enterprise, along with serving several high-profile clients. However, her accomplishments are only a fragment, so who is the woman behind the success? Who is Latesha Byrd?

Tell me about yourself. How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself in two parts: My professional self is very strategic, hard-working, and goal-driven. My personal self is very social and creative; I love traveling and trying new experiences with my friends. As a CEO, it’s really important for me to keep my work and personal life separate; to have balance. 

My identity as a Black woman is extremely important to me, so my work is rooted in my identity and providing safe spaces, opportunities, and value to Black and brown women worldwide. I’m very passionate about workplace well-being and building inclusive communities. 

I’m an avid reader and journaler. I love living a full and abundant life, so I spend a lot of time shopping, at the spa, or with my tribe. Also, I love teaching, coaching, and leading.

Growing up, did you ever think you would be a business owner? What was your relationship with entrepreneurship?

Since I was a child, I knew I wanted to be very successful professionally. I grew up doing really well in math and wanted to be an accountant as a child. I just knew I would own my accounting firm one day! My relationship with entrepreneurship was pretty unfamiliar to me, and I’ve learned a lot since starting my business through investing in self-development, coaching, courses, and training. 

 But once I started working in the corporate world, I realized I wanted to start a business where I could support other career-driven Black women. That’s when I launched Byrd Career Consulting at 25, which was rebranded to Perfeqta in 2021.”

Now that you are an entrepreneur, how do you stay motivated? How have your entrepreneurial motivations changed since you first started?

I love setting goals and seeing my goals come true. I’m a manifesting generator, so these professional accomplishments are inspiring. Also, having a team of people who work at Perfeqta inspires me to create a workplace where they feel safe and feel like they can grow professionally. Then there are our clients who I really love working with – They also have business goals, and I want to make sure we’re able to help their teams achieve those goals as well – nurture their workplace cultures, launch DEI strategies, and recruit and advance candidates from historically underrepresented communities.

It’s one thing to stay motivated by yourself, but who would you say is your greatest support when facing hardships in business?

My tribe is everything. I have a lot of friends who also have their own businesses and work in executive roles. I always go to them when I have questions or just need someone to talk to about the challenges and wins I experience in my role. 

Therapy has been a huge part of my life since 2017 to help me confront trauma and areas where I have to focus on self-healing and self-development to navigate how to show up better as a leader. 

How important is having a sense of community in your day-to-day?

Having a community is everything in my career. I also stress this when talking to Career Chasers, our virtual membership community for Black women and women of color. I created Career Chasers in 2020 because I saw there was a lack of community and support for us. Not only do we provide them with career resources and coaching, but we also emphasize the importance of using this network of over 500 other women who will support and guide you throughout your career. As you move up in your career, you can feel more alone as a Black woman in the workplace because fewer people look like you. You have to have people outside of work you can lean on.

Briefly tell me about your career background and journey.

I started my career working in accounting and transitioned into a Sr. Recruiter role, managing recruiting efforts for offices up and down the east coast. That’s when I started my business and eventually quit my full-time job three years later to start Byrd Career Consulting. I recognized how many people needed community and support rooted in our identities as Black women at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. I launched Career Chasers Members Club to service a wider community of women of color across the globe is still running and growing today. I also began supporting organizations internally in 2020, building talent and DEI programs and training. That’s when I decided to change the focus of Byrd Career Consulting and take the B2B, which is how Perfeqta came about. 

I’m just not a business owner; I’m an employer. I have a team of Black & Latinx employees. I’m really proud of having the opportunity to lead and help them focus on their career growth as the business continues to grow and promote them into positions of influence.

I’m also really proud of the caliber of clients that we’re able to serve each day. The clientele has grown over the years, and we’ve helped companies transform their cultures. We work with high-growth and mission-driven companies across various industries that care about their people. 

What idea inspired you to start your business?

After working with so many career coaching clients and helping them create career strategies and advocate for what they deserve, I realized there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done inside the organizations that people work in. People can advocate for more opportunities, higher pay, and a safer workplace. Still, suppose companies aren’t prioritizing employee growth as much as they are company growth. In that case, systemic inequities will exist and widen the developmental gap of employee growth, which always significantly impacts historically excluded employees more. Perfeqta comes in as a trusted partner for these companies to help them accomplish their DEI and talent development goals to support and advance diverse talent.

How did you come up with the name of your company?

Perfeqta is made up of 3 words: Performance, equity, and talent – which are the core of the work we do. We worked with a talented design agency, Valyoo, to collaborate on rebranding the business and new name. Our goal is to build high-performing teams and put equity back into talent.

Do you feel that your career background directly impacts your business?

My background has a huge impact on the business, especially our mission and values. As a Black woman, I know what it’s like to face microaggressions in the workplace, have people doubt my abilities, and feel alone and unsupported. Our mission is to work with organizations and help them build DEI and talent development strategies that make their workplace safe, equitable, and inclusive for historically excluded and marginalized employees.

What are the main roadblocks or challenges you experience when starting your business? If any, what are your current challenges?

The main challenges I’ve experienced are creating a work-life balance and ensuring I have time to achieve my personal goals outside work. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks and professional goals without taking care of yourself first. Prioritizing my physical and mental health is important to me.

What are the next steps for your business? What do the next five years look like?

In the next five years, I’d like to grow our full-time team, focus on building Perfeqta Academy, land multi-year deals with our amazing clients and grow our client roster globally. 

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

The further I get in my career, the more I realize setting boundaries and focusing on my overall well-being will lead to long-term career success as a Black woman. If we don’t advocate for our own needs, no one else will.

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