Vanessa Abrahams-John, J.D.

    Vanessa Abrahams-John, J.D.

    Chief Diversity Officer, Director of Talent Acquisition

    Praxair Inc., Danbury, Connecticut

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    After a 15-year legal career, Vanessa Abrahams-John assumed a global diversity and inclusion leadership role at Praxair Inc., one of the world?s largest industrial gases companies. ?Diversity and inclusion was a corporate value Praxair wanted to strengthen and the organization was seeking an internal candidate to leverage knowledge of the business and critical relationships,? she explains. From senior legal counsel, Abrahams-John became the firm?s chief diversity officer and director of Talent Management. ?Though I didn?t seek the change in my career path, I wholeheartedly embrace the challenges of continuous learning, continually influencing culture shift across business lines, working with senior leadership and stretching myself out of my comfort zone,? she says. ?Shifting from a tactician to strategist and change agent allowed me to change the way I work and the way I lead. I now think about setting a vision for the people I work with so they are inspired to keep the culture around us one of inclusion and equity for all.??

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    Embedding this value into the fabric of the organization is her biggest challenge. ?The underlying issue is, why should a successful company focus on enhancing its cultural capabilities?? she muses, and responds: ?The key asset in any successful company is its people, and companies should always challenge themselves to foster a culture where everyone from different backgrounds is included and leveraged for maximum impact on its bottom line.?

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    Abrahams-John graduated from the University of Western Ontario in Canada and holds a Juris Doctor, summa cum laude, from Howard University School of Law. She is a board director for Bronx Bethany Community Corp. and AMBYESE Yes I Can Program. Along with motherhood and family, her professional life and Jamaican heritage, she cherishes time spent cooking, reading and traveling globally. ?Cooking is a way to artistically and culturally express and share my heritage with family and friends,? she says.

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