She is fierce, flawless, and successful in a man’s world. Talk about success through adversity on ten! When she is not building visions and exceeding expectations, she is somewhere captivating audiences of very diverse backgrounds. She uses her storytelling to motivate, uplift, empower, encourage, and light internal flames inside audiences. One thing people know is, she loves people. This full-time business owner, mother of 4 elementary school children, president of a board, active board member to numerous organizations, mentor, former PTA president, and blogger on her company website just launched a T-shirt company, and in her free time, she does a podcast. Even with all this, she still has time to serve her community and empower those around her.
Akilah Darden is the President of The Darden Group, LLC. The Darden Group, LLC is an executive construction management firm specializing in the management of large commercial projects. Akilah has managed over $1B in commercial construction in her over 21 years in the construction industry, and in over 15 market sectors.
When asked, Akilah attributes her success to being vision-centered, excellence-focused, team-oriented, and a complex problem-solver. Akilah strives to be the best in the industry while bringing others up with her. She also attributes her success to her parents, who told her she could do anything, and North Carolina A&T State University, where she majored in Architectural Engineering.
The vision of The Darden Group, LLC is to inspire the next generation of builders, to empower individuals within the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, and encourage others to turn their dreams into reality. The Darden Group, LLC weaves their clients’ visions, goals, and expectations through the entire construction project while setting up budgeting and cost control measures to execute on time and within budget.
“We are in the business of pro-active problem solving, team collaboration, effective communication, and teaching efficiency to positively impact the quality, schedule, and execution of each construction project,” states Akilah.
Akilah is so passionate about assisting construction project teams to be more efficient and effective on projects; she has created an online course that provides training, and she will speak on topics that will positively empower the industry and professionals alike.
Even when she wants to take a back seat and volunteer to help, by the end, she is executing a leadership role. But she will say that it is not she, but her team. Akilah puts more emphasis on her team’s being successful than she does for herself. Akilah has mentored many women, from administrative roles to seeing their potential as a project manager all the way up to a corporate executive.
It can be exciting to see and hear an African American female speak about being a builder and all of the projects she’s built, and one can equally get excited to hear her speak. During and after people hear Akilah speak, they will have tangible and actionable items to instill in their lives to continue to be motivated to pursue their goals and dreams.
If you ask Akilah, she will tell you this story: “When I arrived at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, there was a freshman meeting in the campus auditorium. The Chancellor asked us to write down what we wanted to be when we graduated… I stated an Architectural Engineer. He told us to stand up and to look at what we wrote down. The Chancellor then stated, “Here at A&T, dreamers become achievers.” That is all she needed to hear. Over her 21-year career in construction, this is what she lives by and empowers others to do the same.
With her quick wit, real examples of how she moved through adversity and people telling her ‘no’ and that a mother doesn’t belong here, Akilah will leave people wanting to conquer the world. She shares, “I survive on coffee, Mt. Dew, and Jesus…and not in that order.” Her keynote message, “You can have it all, just may need help doing it” is amazingly delivered.