National Black MBA Association Conference 2018

by Chris Johnson

The 40th Annual National Black MBA Association Conference was an event that not only lived up to the hype eluded to by friends, colleagues and faculty; it exceeded my personal expectations. Shared experiences from previous MBA-SBP cohort members who attended the conference and rave reviews from professors at the University were the reason for my initial interest in the conference. Now, after attending it, I feel as others must have felt sharing their insight about the conference – it is now my duty to pass the word along to others about how great it was and how much of a resource it is for MBA candidates. The conference took place at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan from September 23 – September 28. The theme of the conference was One Voice One Mission. Different sessions took place throughout the week, but the big draw was the Career Expo on the last two days of the conference. The Expo had businesses represented from all over the country. There were about 300 companies in attendance, ranging from Target to FedEx to Delta to Vibrant Pittsburgh. You were guaranteed to find an organization of interest at the Expo. Some companies were even arranging onsite interviews.

A large number of Duquesne MBA-SBP cohort members traveled to experience the Career Expo, but I went a day earlier to participate in some of the wonderful sessions I heard so much about. THEY WERE AMAZING! The opening session began with Mel Parker, President & CEO of Take the Limits Off, LLC. He did a phenomenal job speaking about his book “Parker Principles – 10 Leadership Force Multipliers.” I also attended a panel discussion titled Big Data: Algorithms vs. Human Analysis sponsored by LinkedIn, Lockheed Martin, and Microsoft. This was very exciting to experience after recently completing an Information Systems Management course in which we discussed Big Data, AI, and Blockchain. Another session I attended was titled Who You Are is Non-Negotiable sponsored by Target. The presenter was Caroline Wanga, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Vice President of Human Resources at Target. She was such an inspiring speaker! By the time she finished presenting, the room was giving a standing ovation. The final session I attended was How to Transform Your Brand, Network and Expand Your Influence Via LinkedIn sponsored by LinkedIn. It was an all-female panel that provided a wealth of knowledge and insight for MBAs looking to optimize their brand and actively engage with others through LinkedIn. The panel included people from their Partnership for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging department, Sales Solution department, and Marketing Solutions department. Not only was this an amazing conference, it provided me with the opportunity to gain business and professional development insight from professionals across a spectrum of organizations and to connect with MBAs around the country who could relate to my academic experiences. On top of the amazing experience at the conference, I was also invited to a reception hosted by the NFL at Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play. Another cohort member and I were able to take a tour of the facility and walk the end-zone of the field. How’s that for a first-time experience at the National Black MBA Association Conference and first time in Detroit?!

I look forward to the next conference and can’t wait to pass the word along to others about how great it is.