Standing at 5 feet 3 inches, it isn’t necessarily her physicality that commands the attention of international audiences when she takes center stage for events around the world.
It’s her intelligence and character that shines through to captivate.
Combine that with a dash of Southern warmth and you begin to understand why Alanna Cotton, vice president and general manager for the mobile computing division of Samsung Electronics America, has come to be recognized as one of the most powerful women in consumer technology today.
Yes, she has all the trimmings of a high-powered executive – degrees from elite universities, a string of impressive career achievements, power suits – but it’s her dedication to helping others that makes Alanna all the more impressive.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” she says. “For me, that means encouraging more young women and minorities to seek STEM degrees, and opening up the hiring pipeline to more diverse candidates. The more diversity in tech, the more innovation we’ll see—and the bigger impact we’ll have on society as a whole.”
Growing up as the youngest of four in a small Mississippi town, Alanna always excelled in math and science. So much so that when she was 16, she left home to attend The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, the state’s only public, residential high school specifically designed to meet the needs of its most academically gifted and talented students.
“I was very lucky to have that opportunity,” she says of her experience there. “I had excellent teachers, many of whom were former college professors, from whom I learned to really stretch myself academically.”
From there she went on to earn her undergraduate degree in environmental engineering from Northwestern, built her career with Procter & Gamble, then earned an MBA from Stanford University before growing her career for a decade at Pepsi.
“With my background in science and technology, it really felt like coming home,” she says of her joining Samsung in 2014 after a career in consumer packaged goods.
And even in the incredibly fast-paced environment of Samsung – she’s overseen the launch of more than 25 products in two years – Alanna makes giving back a priority. Continuing her notable efforts to help women and minorities throughout her career, Alanna is now serving as an executive sponsor of Samsung’s newest initiative to increase the representation and retention of women.
“I am extremely excited about this,” Alanna says. “In today’s competitive market, a diverse and inclusive work environment is key to building long-term business success. And this is a great next step for Samsung in this journey.”