Eastern Regional Sales Director • Black Enterprise Magazine • New York City • Age: 36
To Gerard Simmons, the secret to success is simple: “I love what I do.” He graduated from Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, N.C., with a bachelor of arts in communications and is currently enjoying hisposition as eastern regional sales director of Black Enterprise. Simmons joined Black Enterprise in 2000. In the eight years that he has been with the company, he has established accounts with leading corporations worldwide, bringing top-tier national businesses such as fashion designers Cole Haan and Polo Ralph Lauren and silversmith George Jensen to the pagesof the magazine.
Simmons began his career in advertising sales in 1995 at The New York Post. Three years later he became an account manager at American Airlines Publishing, where he honed his research and business-development skills. His career path is paved with successes and he is adamant about thanking those who have assisted him and who continue to support him in his personal and professional growth. These people include his mother, Ethel Simmons, who worked full time and attended college and raised eight children while attending to her husband until his untimely death; his wife, Pauline Rene-Simmons, who taught him that “if you don’t give your all, the move is not from the heart, so why make the [career] move”; and his mentors Ralph D’Nofrio and Patrick Judge. Learning from their unwavering support, Simmons feels it his duty to share the rewards of his success with his community. He does so by mentoring local youths, donating to the Belize Y.M.C.A. and providing Christmas gifts each year for less fortunate children. He also has sponsored an underprivileged youth by paying her college tuition.
Simmons’s list of philanthropic activities and professional achievements may be awe-inspiring to some, but to the humble sales director such activities and achievements are just a part of a day’s work.