With two high-profile jobs, Ethiopia Habtemariam, 32, might look like she has already achieved a career breakthrough. But she doesn't think so. "My breakthrough hasn't happened yet," she declares. "I have a long way to go and a lot I want to do. But I believe I'll get there."
It's that determination -- coupled with an excitement for R&B music -- that drives the young exec. While keeping a keen eye on hit songwriters, including Ester Dean and Hit-Boy, Habtemariam is busy revitalizing the Motown brand. To complement such familiar names as Ne-Yo, Chrisette Michele, Erykah Badu, Kem and Stevie Wonder, Habtemariam and her team have also signed buzzworthy newcomers like BJ the Chicago Kid, B. Smyth, Kevin Ross and Stacy Barthe.
Citing industry vet/mentor Clarence Avant as "an important person in my life," Habtemariam says trust is a prime factor behind success. "You have to be able to rely on your team. So it's also about encouraging and empowering them. There's no room for BS. We know we carry the responsibility of bringing this label back. We wear it on our chests every day."