Reflections on the 2023 National Black MBA Conference

The 2023National Black MBA Association(NBMBAA) recently held its 45th Annual Conference and Exposition in the vibrant city of Philadelphia. This 4-day event gathered more than 10,000 attendees and 300 major corporations. It allowed future MBA graduates to share and learn best practices and network with a wide range of industry experts and peers from across the U.S. in a single trip. With nearly 75 William & Mary MBA students in attendance, it was an invaluable experience offering a collective journey that will undoubtedly shape their future careers and academic pursuits. It has been one of the most highly anticipated annual events, and 2023 was no exception.

Key Insights and Takeaways:

会议给了the MBA students a wealth of insights and takeaways through keynote speakers, over 50 concurrent sessions, and a wide range of networking opportunities that offered valuable leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship lessons. Students collectively learned about the importance of adaptability in today's rapidly changing business landscape and how to harness diversity as a catalyst for creativity and success. A key takeaway is the emphasis on continuous learning and embracing change, enabling future MBA graduates to apply industry trends and foster a culture of innovation in any organization.

Ro-Derrick Branch, MBA '24, is currently in the Raymond A. Mason School of Business'sOnline MBAprogram and shared several of his valuable insights after attending the conference:

"I realized the importance of having a clear strategy for navigating such conferences. Prioritizing companies of interest and conducting thorough research beforehand is crucial. It saves time and helps make a better impression during discussions.

Face-to-face interactions are the most valuable. Talking to representatives can be insightful even when a company doesn't have immediate job openings. I had meaningful conversations with reps from companies I'm not currently considering, but these interactions could lead to future opportunities or benefit my network down the road. Being open to unexpected connections can pave the way for potential career prospects."

Networking at its Finest:

Networking is the lifeblood of the MBA experience, and the conference delivered an unforgettable networking opportunity. During a panel discussion on entrepreneurship, attendees connected with experienced entrepreneurs who offered to mentor them in startup ventures. These connections are game-changers for career goals, providing valuable guidance, access to a network of industry professionals, and a vision for entrepreneurial journeys.

Branch also highlighted the significance of spontaneous interactions:

"I had a memorable encounter with a representative at the conference, beginning with a personal observation. I hadn't planned to approach this company, but as I passed by, I couldn't help but initiate a conversation. Our interactions began with simply complimenting each other's hairstyles. It felt remarkably casual and akin to everyday encounters on the street. This was incredibly refreshing at a corporate conference, where such genuine interactions can be rare. These initial exchanges opened the door to deeper conversations, and we connected on LinkedIn with plans to explore potential fits with companies I may not have otherwise considered."

Inclusivity and Diversity in Focus:

An impactful moment at the conference occurred during a diversity and inclusion panel discussion. The panelists shared personal stories about their journeys in the corporate world and the challenges they faced due to biases. These stories underscored the importance of diversity and inclusion as ethical imperatives and essential drivers of organizational success. This collective experience deepened the students' commitment to promoting inclusivity in the workplace. It has reshaped their collective perspective on leadership, emphasizing the importance of empathy, fairness, and equal opportunities for all.

Inspiring Speakers:

One of the standout moments of the conference was a speech given by Napoleon Rutledge, SVP, Chief Accounting Officer and Controller at McKesson. "Napoleon Rutledge was incredible. He gave his story and his perspective to approaching his career in a very matter-of-fact way. His approachability and authenticity kept it simple and honest, but it felt more like a Sunday service. It was a renewal of energy by which to close the conference, and that was a perfect cap," said Branch.

Advice for Future Attendees:

部门说,“你的研究和应用vent early! Next year, I will be there and apply in the spring, if not sooner. I wish I hadn't waited so long to register. It's important to get a lay of the land with who will be attending and to have your resume on the job board to secure internships. Another key is to look up companies on LinkedIn and see if there are people with whom you have mutual connections or interests. From there, reach out on LinkedIn or try to get their email and let them know you'll be attending the conference."

Prepare with Purpose:Research the speakers and sessions that align with your career goals and interests. Come with questions and a clear plan for what you hope to gain from the event.

Engage Actively:Don't be passive observers; actively participate in discussions, ask questions, and seek opportunities to connect with fellow attendees.

Network with Intent:Networking is about building meaningful connections. Be genuine, listen actively, and follow up with your new contacts after the conference.

Embrace Diversity:Keep an open mind and be receptive to diverse perspectives. The conference is a unique opportunity to learn from and connect with individuals from various backgrounds.

Reflect and Apply:Take time to reflect on what you've learned and how it can influence your career and personal growth. Implement the insights gained into your future endeavors.

The 2023 National Black MBA Conference was a transformative experience, reminding attendees that their journey as MBA students is about individual academic achievement and collective personal and professional growth.

Established in 1970, the NBMBAA is a non-profit organization of black business professionals, students, and entrepreneurs. There are 40 professional chapters throughout the U.S. With 12,000 members, the organization represents a vast network of minority MBAs worldwide. Through national and local chapter activities, the NBMBAA provides continuing executive-level education to its members. It also provides outreach to students of all ages, support of small businesses, and exposure of its members to the corporate community. Next year's 2024 conference will be held in Washington, D.C., making it even more accessible and close to home!