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A Babson Graduate Affinity Scholar’s Experience at #nbmbaadetroit

Ayodele Allu, Babson MBA’19

By Ayodele Allu, MBA’19

NBMBAA 40th Annual Conference: One Voice, One Mission
Privileged as a Babson Graduate Affinity Scholar, I attended the 40th Annual National Black MBA Association Conference in Detroit that was held from September 25-29, 2018. This was also my first real introduction to the US job market. It was an event that connected more than 10,000 professionals with over 900 potential hiring companies.

The atmosphere was filled with a lot of energy and hope as most of the professionals were current MBA candidates from highly ranked business schools. Others had recently earned prestigious graduate degrees or were just seeking new job opportunities. And no, it was not an “All Black” event – a large fraction of the participants were in fact not Black, but represented diverse races.

National Black MBA Association was created in 1970 to create educational opportunities and economic growth for Black professionals. To achieve this goal, members are supported to succeed in “seemingly” unfamiliar and challenging environments. The association has grown over the last 40 years as members charged to “send the elevator down” and improve their influence through professionalism of the highest standard.

The Conference
Detroit was a strategic choice location because of its strong Black community and also to stimulate its ailing economy. The event held at COBO Convention Center in Downtown Detroit, just across Windsor Ontario.

Registration at the MBMBAA Conference, 2018

The conference started with a 3-day (Sunday to Tuesday) Project Management preparatory course which is required to earn the PM certification. There were several workshops and break-out sessions on Wednesday, all held at the same time. Thursday and Friday were mainly for the career expo.

Some Hiring Companies
The program was sponsored by Fortune 500 companies who also provided perspectives on subjects related to their industries. The expo attracted even more companies of various sizes and industries.
They include: PepsiCo, Inc, The Coca-Cola Company, Accenture, Procter & Gamble, LVMH, ExxonMobil, Nintendo of America, Bank of America, HSBC, BlackRock, Federal Reserve System, LinkedIn, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Caesar’s Entertainment, Microsoft, and Apple Inc., among others.

Breakout Sessions
Big Data: Algorithms vs. Human Analysis
Jointly sponsored by LinkedIn, Microsoft and Lockheed Martin, the session addressed the question of the future of work as data advances. Sponsors were represented by HR professionals and Data Scientists who provided informed perspectives on the subject. The speakers agreed that the relevance of data can only be enhanced by reasonable human intervention. After all, data is created and managed by humans.

Who You Are is Non-negotiable

Caroline Wanga, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and VP Human Resources at Target

Caroline Wanga, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and VP Human Resources at Target, led the interactive workshop that inspired participants to be proud of their roots and identity in the workplace. That said, it was advised that employees should prioritize work obligations above cultural issues.
Other sessions include: Parker Principles sponsored by Marriott International; Dynamic Leadership Sponsored by Johnson and Johnson; Digital Emerging Trends Changing the Culture, Systems and Capabilities of the Financial Services Industry sponsored by Wells Fargo, and Women in Leadership sponsored by Georgia-Pacific.

To achieve equal employment opportunities, companies are looking to hire professionals from all races who meet their requirements. NBMBAA understands this and takes initiative to develop black professionals to meet the minimum requirement. They thereby provide a platform for prospective employers and thousands of young people to meet. The result has been outstanding, and the conference that has just concluded for the 40th time has proven to be relevant. It now is a platform for more than only Black people. Indeed, I was glad to attend as a Babson Graduate Affinity Scholar.