Fatimah Gilliam ESQ

Founder and CEO, The Azara Group

Fatimah Gilliam, Esq. is the Founder and CEO of The Azara Group, a consulting firm that promotes the development of business leaders in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace.  Her company provides a broad range of career strategy and negotiation services to companies, universities, student-athletes, sports industry professionals, and private clients from Fortune 500 corporations to leaders in sports.  Its mission is to improve the competitive advantage of organizations and people by helping them strategically use influencing skills to get what they want, achieve objectives, and enhance careers.  Her company also specializes in offering services promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and improved career mobility for diverse employees.  

As the Founder of The Azara Group, Ms. Gilliam has counseled her institutional clients on being strategic in negotiations to expand their leverage and bargaining power, and has worked with companies on improving diversity initiatives.  She has advised her private clients in negotiating compensation and severance packages, and counseled business leaders on navigating their ascent up the corporate ladder and how to be more effective leaders and managers.  She has spoken to groups of professionals, top executives, and students about how to position themselves for career success – including women and people of color.  Ms. Gilliam has also advised leaders in sports in negotiating more lucrative business deals and spoken to and counseled athletes about leadership, career mobility, and life after sports.  As an expert negotiator and career strategist, she has been interviewed and written articles on negotiating and the “art of persuasion.” 

Prior to starting The Azara Group, Ms. Gilliam was the Head of Finance and Fundraising for North America in the Private Partnerships Division of the United Nations World Food Programme.  For WFP, she was responsible for strategy, budgeting, and multi-million dollar fundraising operations with corporations, foundations, and other private partnerships in the United States and Canada.  While at WFP, she negotiated partnerships with Lionsgate Entertainment Corporation and The Hunger Games film franchise, and rapper 50 Cent in connection with his energy drink Street King.  Her direct philanthropy efforts provided roughly 20 million meals to children in famine-stricken Africa. 

Prior to joining WFP, she served in a corporate strategy role as the Director of Diversity Recruitment for Citigroup.  She oversaw Citi’s recruitment of graduating diverse business candidates across the United States – overseeing the diversity recruiting strategy for thirty training programs across fifteen Citi businesses.  Ms. Gilliam managed the company’s diversity recruiting operations, oversaw its multi-million dollar budget, and supervised the recruiting staff engaged in Citi’s diversity hiring efforts.  In her role, she served on the Corporate Advisory Boards of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (The Consortium), and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA). 

Prior to joining Citi, Ms. Gilliam had a successful legal career negotiating multi-million dollar deals.  She worked as a real estate attorney for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, and as a corporate lawyer for Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP.  During her legal career, she represented and advised clients from large international corporations, financial institutions, and nonprofit organizations to low-income housing real estate developers in transactions often involving hundreds of millions of dollars.  

She holds a law degree from Columbia Law School (participating in the Mediation Clinic), a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (with a concentration in Conflict Resolution and Negotiation), and an undergraduate degree from Wellesley College.  

Originally from Berkeley, California, Ms. Gilliam lives in New York City, is an active member of her community, and mentors rising professionals.  She loves lively discussions, great humor, and traveling around the world to haggle in street markets.