Marissa Rogers, an auditor for International Paper, is not a member of the National Black Master of Business Administration Association (NBMBAA). Her attendance Thursday at the association's regional symposium was an instance of trusting her ability to discern where she needed to be.
"A friend emailed me the advertisement for this event and the mention of recalibrating your life looked interesting," said Rogers. "I'm taking what I learn from today, apply it, and look forward to where it takes me in the future."
Nearly 100 participants chose to be at the NBMBAA® Southeast Regional Symposium held at the FedEx Institute of Technology on the campus of the University of Memphis. The theme was 'The Art of Leadership – Recalibrate Your Reality: Practical Steps from the NBMBAA."
Memphis was the first stop in a series of regional symposiums leading up to the annual NBMBAA® Conference and Exposition in Atlanta on Sept. 16-20. Each targets professionals and will feature discussions of innovative trends within the workplace, along with a changing global workforce that "sometimes requires one to recalibrate their professional and personal realities."
Networking among the business professionals started earlier and stretched throughout the Thursday (April 10th) event. During the networking luncheon, participants were encouraged to sit with someone they didn't know to facilitate making business contacts.
As the day got underway, Kermit Madison, national sales manager for the Memphian Convention and Visitors Bureau, was clear about his intentions.
"I'm looking forward to networking, seeing old friends and hearing the speaker (Judy Smith)," said Madison.
Smith, the president and CEO of Smith and Company, is a crisis management advisor and the inspiration for ABC's hit series "Scandal."
Dr. Atira Charles, assistant professor of Management at Florida A&M University and CEO of Think Actuality, LLC, a diversity consulting firm, said she heard Smith speak a couple of months ago during a visit to FAMU.
"I was able to pull a lot of nuggets of knowledge from her then," said Charles. "And today what really stood out was when she said. 'Figure out what you're good at and do that.'"
During the afternoon, a panel discussion explored best practices and trends in recruiting, with a focus on developing, retaining and promoting African-American talent. The session featured local, regional and international business notables, such as Gina F. Adams, corporate vice president Government Affairs, FedEx Corporation; Orlando Ashford, president of Talent Business Segment, Mercer; Leslie Coleman, global human resources leader, Cargill; and Michael C. Hyter, senior partner and managing director, Korn/Ferry International.
"We are taking notes and tomorrow my team and I have a debriefing," said Roby S. Williams, a former NBMBAA Memphis board member and president of The Black Business Association of Memphis.
"We will document and talk about what we learned so that everyone here will have the benefit of knowing what was shared here today.
The NBMBAA® Southeast Regional Symposium was sponsored by FedEx Corporation and Cargill, Inc. Other southeast regional chapters include: Atlanta, Central Florida, Charlotte, Nashville, Piedmont Triad, Raleigh/Durham, South Florida and Tampa.
(For information on joining your local chapter or general information, visit www.nbmbaa.org)