Angelia Pelham is executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Cinemark Holdings who are headquartered in Plano and whose movie theaters are found throughout the United States and in Latin America. She’s also the company’s first African-American executive officer—and the first female one too.
A Florida-native, Angelia Pelham started her career at the Walt Disney Company, ultimately becoming the director of HR for the Magic Kingdom. She later joined Frito Lay as vice president and eventually relocated to the company’s headquarters in Plano. Since then, she’s held leadership roles at Yum Brands Pizza Hut and Main Event Entertainment.
“I grew up in a home that was at the poverty level,” she says. “But I’m driven, there’s nothing you can tell me that I can’t do; I was one of the first in my family to get an advanced master’s degree. As a result of my strong faith, persistence, and hard work; I have reinvented myself from where I grew up and what I’ve accomplished in life.”
When it comes to women in the workplace she does feel progress is being made but she also believes there is a long way to go.
“Companies are realizing their own unintended biases, and women are being empowered to bring all of who they are to the table,” she says. “Capability and contribution need to be leading factors in hiring and promotion, not who you’re most comfortable with or who you played golf with last week. Women are highly capable and significant contributors on all levels. If those things were the major deciding factors, we’d have more women at the top.”
Pelham finds “fear and complacency” are roadblocks to change. “Either they are fearful of what will happen if they make the change or they are too complacent with status quo, so they feel there is no need to change,” she explains. “When it comes to my role in [making] change, I try to be as transparent as I can and be a truth-teller when it is needed.”
Career aside, she considers her most significant achievement to be her daughter.
“My husband and I have managed to raise one beautiful, loving and grounded teenage daughter,” she says. “She knows who she is; nothing and no one can shake her. Nothing in my life will ever matter more than that.”