Although they are on different sides of the spectrum when it comes to media, one thing entertainment journalist Sylvia Obell and Cassandra Illidge, VP of Partnerships and Executive Director of the HBCU Grants Program at Getty Images, agree on is the importance of being prepared for your work environment to change.

The way media is absorbed has changed over the last several years from traditional print to digital content to streaming platforms and more. During the “Paving Your Path in Media” panel hosted by Kamaron Leach, a reporter at Bloomberg News, at AFROTECH‘s annual conference, both women shared their perspectives on positioning themselves as individual brands and making connections that will allow them to smoothly pivot in the industry.


Many of today’s working professionals, starting with millennials, aren’t looking to have the type of careers their parents and grandparents did, working at one company and retiring after 20-plus years. Obell, who is the co-host of “The Scottie and Sylvia Show” podcast, gave her insight on how this transcends in media since corporations have new competition in the field, freelance journalists and creatives.

“Somebody sent it [an article] to me recently about how individual creators are starting to outpace media corporations. And I really do think it is something that some of us have spotted for a while where it’s like, ‘Oh, you know, we’re no longer in a situation where you’re going to be able to work for the same company most of your career.’ It’s going, you know, that’s from our parents’ era,” she explained. “Now you’re going to be moving around and around, and what you have to make sure is strong is like you in whatever it is that your content is. That that’s [your work] identifiable no matter where you’re housed.”

The former Buzzfeed employee believes when someone works on their time and not a corporation’s, they have a special advantage. She advised the attendees who do work for a structured organization to create a platform and utilize it as a portfolio to showcase their work so they’re ahead of the curve in an ever-changing industry.

“It’s really about having a strong presence that’s being documented outside of the workplace, whether it’s on social media like we see a lot of people doing. I also always encourage people to have their own personal websites where they’re uploading content because as we’re seeing with Twitter, that’s now X, these things can go. Like even with Buzzfeed folding…it is so crazy,” the culture writer said.

“We all have to really be like, all of our work that’s documented there [employer’s websites], where is it gonna go? Where can people find you, you know,” she continued. “So, I started to put my own stories from different websites on my own website now because I don’t know how long those domains are going be up. And I think that’s the thing about digital spaces is all our work is going to this like cloud and it’s like, make sure you are having ownership of some of your content, being able to distribute it on your own because what we are seeing is that that’s becoming where the monetization is coming [from]. It’s coming from being your own creative and working with multiple companies versus being tied to a specific one.”

Illidge, who has worked for Getty Images the majority of her career and is the “most senior person of color” at the company, chimed in to share how she navigates corporate America to ensure her career has longevity since storytelling is always evolving.

“It’s a little hard for me because I’ve been with the same company,” she said laughing. “I’ve been in the media space in production and in the creative environment I’ve always shifted and I will continue to shift. That’s it.”

She expressed why it’s key for people not to be glued to a role, but instead always be open to switch gears. The executive opened up about how essential relationship building is when it comes to expanding knowledge, staying informed about the latest trends, and being ready for new opportunities that may arise.

“I always find ways to partner with people who expose me to new adventures and I will continue to do that. That’s, that’s just who I am as a person,” Illidge told the audience. “I think that’s the way you navigate if you want to be in a corporation. But also I’m my own person, I’m my own brand, I have passions, and what I do on the grants program with the HBCUs is a passion for me because I’m on campuses. I see the power of what we can do if we follow through on things that we commit to.”

“And what I committed to is changing the way that people see imagery of us on the Getty Images platform. And I can only do that with partnerships. So the more partners I build out, the more I expose myself to other brands and that’s just opening a door for another career path that I may not have expected. But I’m always open to ways to change,” she added.

If you missed AFROTECH, be sure to sign up for the conference’s newsletter to attend next year when it arrives in Houston, TX.