Today, Florida A&M University (FAMU) announced Microsoft Chairman John W. Thompson and ESSENCE Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor as speakers for its spring commencement ceremonies scheduled Saturday, May 3 at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, in the Al Lawson Multipurpose Center.
“We are delighted to have two titans of business join us for our largest commencement ceremony of the year,” said Interim President Larry Robinson. “John W. Thompson, a FAMU graduate, has ascended to a top leadership role in one of the world’s most successful high-technology companies. Mikki Taylor has defined empowerment at one of the world’s most prestigious publications that addresses issues of health, style, beauty and other contemporary issues pertaining to women of color. Between these two outstanding individuals, our students will receive pearls of wisdom that will last a lifetime.”
Thompson first joined Microsoft's board of directors in February 2012, serving as a lead independent director, a role he will continue in tandem with his recent appointment to board chairman. Additionally, Thompson is the chief executive officer of privately held Virtual Instruments. He is the former chairman and CEO of Symantec, where he served for 10 years. Previously, he held a number of leadership positions at IBM, including sales, marketing, software development and general manager of IBM Americas.
Thompson received his bachelor's degree in business administration from FAMU’s School of Business and Industry (SBI) in 1971. He also earned a master's degree in management from the Sloan Fellows program of the MIT Sloan School of Management. Thompson was inducted into the FAMU SBI Hall of Fame in 2011.
For 30 years, Taylor served as ESSENCE Magazine’s beauty & cover director before assuming her current role as editor-at-large. In addition, she is the founder and president of Mikki Taylor Enterprises, LLC, which serves as a holding company for a number of vertical businesses, including Satin Doll Productions, a full-service image building and consulting division, and MT Communications, a strategic communications and branding company. Most recently, she hosted the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards Luncheon and served as a speaker and judge at the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy.
Taylor has offered beauty and style advice through various types of media, which led to her successful book, “Self-Seduction: Your Ultimate Path to Inner and Outer Beauty” (Ballantine Books/One World). In Fall 2011, she interpreted the style of Michelle Obama in her popular sequel, “Commander-in-Chic: Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady” (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster).
Taylor is the recipient of the Black Retail Action Group (BRAG) Business Achievement Award, acknowledging those who have penetrated and embraced the world of beauty in a significant way both in front of and behind the scenes. She is the winner of the Associated Black Charities Image Makers Award, ESSENCE Magazine’s Definining Excellence Award and the recipient of various civic awards in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the empowerment of women around the world.