David A. Lipscomb

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Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion • Sovereign Bank • Brooklyn, N.Y. • Age: 39

David A. Lipscomb has a black belt and two brown belts in Shotokan karate, full-contact stick fighting and Vietnamese martial arts. He credits martial arts actor Bruce Lee with inspiring him to excel in life with a non-defeatist attitude. “Setbacks are inevitable; failures are not. The right attitude can help you overcome and achieve anything,” he says, referencing his own rise from temporary employee to C-suite executive.

Lipscomb’s career at Sovereign Bank spans 10 years, culminating in his current role as the bank’s vice president of diversity and inclusion. Last year, he served as keynote speaker at the 2007 World Diversity Leadership Summit, held at the United Nations, where he discussed “The Sovereign Bank Diversity Playbook,” a comprehensive guide of human resources best practices he employs to improve the company’s performance. He sums up his drive for success in the words of Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict your future is to create it!”

Lipscomb acknowledges the advice and support he receives from his mother, Elizabeth Ann Lipscomb, and co-worker Nicholas Johnson. “One is only as great as his or her network; mine is awesome,” he says. He sits on the boards of the National Urban League, National Association of African American Human Resources, the World Diversity Leadership Summit and the African American Heritage Museum in Gettysburg, Penn.

Lipscomb holds a bachelor’s degree in information technology from the School of Computer Technology in Harrisburg, Penn., and Six Sigma Green Belt certification from the Juran Institute in Southbury, Conn. “Six Sigma certification is the major reason why I feel I am so successful because this gave me a better understanding of how things fit together. The reason why I am viewed as an innovator in the diversity space is because I have been able to tie diversity into our business,” he says. An avid cyclist, he has raced competitively for the past eight years.

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