Black History Month Spotlight: Viola Maxwell-Thompson

Viola Maxwell-Thompson, the first Black female board member for Insight Global, has a story of resilience, determination, and triumph over adversity. Viola’s journey began in Brooklyn, New York, born as the youngest of three girls to a family with humble beginnings. Her mother was a high school graduate, and her father, an immigrant from Jamaica, West Indies held a 6th grade education. Viola was instilled with an unwavering belief in education. College was not just an option, but a given.

Viola went to college and majored in psychology and education with aspirations to attain a master’s degree and become a school psychologist. However, fate had different plans for her. After college, she found herself working as a bank supervisor where challenges with technology piqued her interest in programming. This marked the beginning of Viola’s illustrious career in technology.

Her journey led her to consulting at Ernst & Young where she broke barriers by becoming their first Black female partner in the Management Consulting Practice in 1997. The challenges were immense. “I felt like I was always under a microscope and that people questioned if I belonged in the room. Sometimes it was assumed I was an assistant or in the room to record the meeting minutes,” she said. Despite this, Viola persevered. She battled imposter syndrome armed with lessons from her mother that nothing comes easy; everything has to be earned. She later began a career in the non-profit sector as an Executive Director, and ultimately President and CEO. The organization’s focus was on creating more opportunities for Black people to advance into executive levels positions in the IT field. This role marked another milestone achievement for Viola – proving that beginnings do not define one’s destiny but rather serve as steppingstones towards greatness.

We asked Viola to share what qualities she thinks contributed to her success in her career. These qualities have been instrumental in her illustrious career and can help others in their career journey.


Viola emphasizes the importance of clarity in communication. It is essential to understand the question or request being asked and convey a response that is clear and concise. It is equally important to ensure that the person understands your response and confirms their understanding. Sometimes, we say words believing that the solution we are offering is clear, but the person walks away still unclear of the path forward. Clarity in communication can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.


Empathy is another crucial quality for success in your career. Viola believes that it is essential to understand the challenges faced by the person you are talking to and how those challenges have impacted the individual, our customers, and ultimately the company overall. Empathy is vital because individuals can only be effective if they are “okay.” In some cases, companies have forgotten or minimized the importance of being empathetic, which often leads to a lot of turnover. Empathy can help build strong relationships and foster a positive work environment.

Being Results-Driven

Being results-oriented is another quality that Viola considers essential for success in your career. It means that you have to weigh all of the information you have and then make an informed decision that allows you to move forward.Strive to be comfortable and confident in your decision and remember that you were hired and are being paid to deliver results. A drive to results mindset can help you stay focused and motivated, even when faced with challenges or tough decisions.

Viola Thompson sees clarity, empathy, and a drive toward results practiced at Insight Global today. The culture at Insight Global is one of the reasons Viola chose to serve on the board of directors. “It was clear how important the individual was to the company,” she said. Insight Global possesses empathy as a company by being the light to the world around us. “The work that is done as a company to go into the communities and different countries to provide opportunities to people is amazing,” she said. Viola sees clarity and a drive toward results from the Insight Global leadership team in the boardroom every time. “For example, the leadership team goes out of their way to make sure everyone gets an explanation of the Insight Global acronyms and shared language. Incorporating these qualities into the company culture helps build strong relationships, foster a positive work environment, and drive productivity and results. It is inspiring to see how Insight Global is incorporating these qualities into its culture.”

Viola Thompson lives by the quote a mentor shared with her, “If they take away your title, will they still follow you?” She believes that it is important to be a genuine person so that people want to follow you because they respect you, not just because they fear you. Her favorite book is It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor authored by Rebecca Shambaugh. The book provides insights for women on how to recognize and break through barriers. Viola contends that it is especially relevant for women of color. You may be able to free yourself from the stickiness on the floor because it can be self-inflicted. However, you still need someone above you who is willing to break the ceiling from above, while you’re breaking from below, and then help pull you through.

You can connect with Viola on LinkedIn.