Janice Bryant Howroyd is a successful entrepreneur, businesswoman, and author.
She is the founder and CEO of The ActOne Group, the largest privately held personnel company owned by a minority woman in the United States.
Additionally, Howroyd holds the distinction of being the first African-American woman to establish and lead a billion-dollar company.
Janice Bryant Howroyd is the CEO of Act-One, the largest certified full-service staffing agency owned by a minority woman, operating locally and globally.
With over 40 years of experience, Howroyd has achieved a billion-dollar valuation for her company despite facing economic challenges and overcoming racial barriers. She is a well-respected executive in her industry and a source of inspiration for many black entrepreneurs.
In addition to being a successful businesswoman, Howroyd is also an author, mentor, educator, ambassador, and speaker. She credits her parents and Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made black female millionaire in the US, as major influences and role models in her business journey.
As “JBH” to her close associates, Howroyd has invested millions in developing one of the most advanced technology and talent platforms in the industry. Act-One provides a range of services, from employee background checks to executive travel management, to Fortune 500 companies and others. Her expertise lies in connecting top companies with top talent, which has been the key to her firm’s success.
Janice Bryant Howroyd’s accomplishments include being appointed to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities by former President Barack Obama in 2016, and receiving Black Enterprise’s A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award in the same year. Act-One Group was also named BE 100s Company of the Year in 2012.
Despite her achievements, Howroyd’s success was not effortless.
Janice Bryant Howroyd was born in the 1950s in Tarboro, North Carolina, as the fourth of 11 children. During her teenage years, she was among the first black students to attend the previously segregated high school in her town following its desegregation.
When reflecting on her upbringing, Howroyd stated, “I don’t want to sugarcoat my experiences growing up. It was harsh and unjust, but my mother always told us that in order to be exceptional, we sometimes have to stand out. So I took that to heart and worked hard to overcome obstacles and not let anything hold me back.”
With a combination of her own savings and borrowed funds from her mother and brother, Janice Bryant Howroyd started Act-One Personnel Services in 1978 in a small office in Beverly Hills, California. She initially acquired clients by offering to provide the right employees or refund their money if they were unsatisfied with her services.
Howroyd never looked back. In 1990, she relocated the headquarters of her company to Torrance, and by 2000, it had offices in 75 U.S. cities, serving clients such as Ford, Toyota, Cingular Wireless, and Sempra Energy, Southern California’s largest utility at the time. As her company grew, it expanded into other areas, including e-business solutions. Revenues for Act-One skyrocketed from $75 million in 1997 to $483 million in 2002.
In her book, “The Art of Work: How to Make Your Work, Work for You,” Howroyd shares her business and life lessons.
An excerpt from the book reads, “The one thing I encourage you to always keep in mind as you turn your challenges into opportunities is to never compromise who you are personally in order to be professionally successful. This is the first and only rule I wrote for myself when I started my company, and I still keep it framed in my office today.”