Dr. Sharon Freeman has worked in more than 100 countries and traveled more roads than she can count. But the distance that best defines the 1998 PhD in Applied Management and Decision Sciences graduate and innovator extraordinaire is as modest as 10 miles.
Every day, Freeman walks 10 miles, no matter where she is in the world. “It’s so important to clarity of thought,” she says.
It’s that kind of rigorous commitment that has defined Freeman’s career. As an African American woman, she’s a trailblazer in global economic development and trade. She is CEO of Gems of Wisdom Consulting, a firm she founded in Washington, D.C., that is focused on international development, trade, and regulatory compliance. She is also the author of 31 books and an appointed advisor to the U.S. secretary of commerce.
When she embarked on international work decades ago, she says it was “virtually unprecedented for a black American woman to work in this domain.” That didn’t deter her. She spent the early part of her career with a global consulting and government contracting firm. She then moved to Hong Kong to serve as regional director for Asia for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency before founding several global trade consulting firms.
Much of her work focuses on developing strategies for improving ecosystems of support for business startups and firms owned by minorities and women. It’s a complex process, and her Walden PhD with its focus on decision sciences research helped hone her systematic approach.
“You have to master yourself to know how you can do things,” she says. “If someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer, I know what my process is and how long it will take to get that answer.”
Whether on a global, local, or personal scale, “if you’re willing to do the work, you can go from ignorance to enlightenment in a pretty short period,” Freeman says.
You have to master yourself to know how you can do things.