Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing • BET Networks • New York City • Age: 34
Alvin Bowles Jr. had a natural aptitude for business at high school in Detroit. “I liked math, but business was more than just about math, it was about communication and I was good at that,” says the senior vice president of integrated marketing at BET Networks. He is responsible for creating revenue-generating and nontraditional solutions for clients, including last year’s partnerships with Toyota, Tide and McDonald’s in support of BET programs like Sunday Best and College Hill. He is also part of the senior management team that launched BET in the United Kingdom in February. The company plans to launch BET in South Africa by the end of 2008.
Bowles earned a bachelor’s from the University of Michigan and began his career as a financial analyst at J.P. Morgan and Co. “I like doing deals because they appeal to my task-oriented nature. Even if we don’t close every deal, each project gives me new opportunities,” he says.
Finance soon lost its luster and in 1997, as a “creative outlet,” Bowles and several partners launched Black Diamonds Entertainment, a promotion and event-planning business in New York. Moonlighting as a promoter, socializing and connecting with professionals in various industries, Bowles had finally tapped into his passion.
The following year, he entered media and entertainment full time as a senior analyst at Sony Music Entertain-ment, but left in 2000 to pursue a master’s degree at Harvard Business School. He returned to Sony after Harvard, subsequently joining other media outlets, including Time Warner, AOL and finally BET in 2007. And the time he once spent volunteering with at-risk youth is now spent with his wife, Terri, and daughters, Kayla, 4, and Sydney, 6 months.
He concedes that a healthy dose of competitiveness has been a driving force throughout his career. “I hate to lose and I will outwork my opponent to win,” he says. “I will lose gracefully, but I will not be outworked. I will not lose by not working hard.”