Tuesday, April 07, 1998

Conference addresses blacks in business

Conference addresses blacks in business
The Chicago Maroon
By Pamela Appea

The African American MBA Association (AAMBA), hed the 13th annual DuSable Business Conference April 3-5. The event was entitled “Managing Ourselves: The role of image and Perception in Defining Our Success.”
Over 300 U of C Graduate School of Business (GSB) students, alumni, faculty and Chicagoland business men and women attended lectures and panel discussions that addressed the role of blacks in the domestic and international business world.
“This is probably the most successful conference so far,” said Renee Hagins, a DuSable conference co-chair and MBA/MPP ‘98. “From the staff, faculty, and students we have had a great response. Even though AAMBA does not have a large number of people as a student body, we have really managed to come together, and I think that says a lot about the importance of this conference and the importance of diversity in the business world.”
Hagins, Ruby Davidson, and Teresa Halsey, second-year students in the GSB, served as the co-chairs for the DuSable conference. They stated that the conference serves as a vehicle to explore issues such as racism and limited business opportunities that affect African-American professionals and the community at-large.
An awards ceremony was held Friday evening, April 3, at the DuSable Museum to honor the GSB Alumni if 1998. Arthur Turnball, Class of ‘26, the first black to get an MBA from the U of C, Maurice Baptiste, Class of ‘40, and Joseph Southern, Class of ‘45 were presented with awards. Lionel Wallace, Class of ‘42, was posthumously awarded.
“I am awestruck that we were able to find the first four black minority alumni at the GSB,” said Rodney Tyson, president of AAMBA and a second-year student in the GSB. He went on to add that in the first half of the centurry, corporations or firms “did not allow the opportunity for diversity” and that these four 1998 GSB alumni epitomize success even when the opportunities were not necessarily available to them.
Connie Evans, President of the woman’s Self-Employment Project (WSEP), Thomas Jones, vice chair and director of the Travelers Group and chief executive officer of Smith Barney Assets Management in 1997, and J.P. Morgan & Co., Inc. were also honored with awards.
Jones shared insights with the audience in recounting his successful career. “Most of us don’t have the opportunity , whatever the task is, to do it in an excellent way,” he said. Jones went on to state that operating at a level of 95 percent versus 100 percent in work is crucial in ones level of success.
“If you get to where I am 27 years down the road, the difference between 95 percent and 100 percent make a difference. Others didn’t even perceive hwo the race was being lost,” he said. According to Jones, character, continuous personal self-growth, and lots of practice are also instrumental in success in any professional field.
Evans, who has 17 years of experience in developing grassroots programs, discussed the importance of economic self-sufficiency for women. “We don’t just help women to find jobs but tto create jobs of their own,” he said.
The conference continued on Saturday, April 4providing a full day of workshops, lectures, and award ceremonies downtown at the Graduate School of Business’ Gleacher Center and the Sheraton hotel.
Workshops included such topics as business ethics, black enterpreneurship, and the role of the lobal marketplace for blacks.
One topic at the Global Marketplace workshop was President Bill Clinton’s recent visit to several African nations and recent efforts to facilitate the growth of these nations.
Marvin Zonis, a professor of International Economy at the GSB, discussed the importance of starting out from an area and/or geographic location where [there] is less competition and building the way up.
“Seven or eight countries in Africa will be growing and profitable in the years to come,” he said.
Zonis stressed the students and recent GSB graduates can find opportunities to network and start the foundation for international business opportunities in the future. “David Greer [a first-year student at the GSB] recently left for Cairo, Egypt, another country that is underutilized [in the current market.]”
Greer, who was featured in the February issue of the GSB alumni magazine, aims to own his international business one day.
During the GSB scholarship luncheon, several Hyde Park high school students were honored with Ronald H. Brown awards. Rae Lewis Thornton, a Chicago-based AIDS activist, spoke at the scholarship luncheon. Lewis-Thornton discussed the importance of self-knowledge and personal development.
“She talked about cards, houses and dating successful men, which used to be a priority for her,” said Dale Caldwell, a senior manager at Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group and national director of diversity recruiting for the GSB and Wharton School of Business.
“This is the biggest limiting factor as African-Americans, who are too focused on our own success without thinking about where we have come from and the community as a whole,” he said.
For the evening dinner banquet, Edward Lewis, CEO & Publisher of Essence Magazine, gave the keynote address. Lewis touched on his expansion of Essence Inc. and the importance of support for black-owned businesses.
“Mr. Lewis’ speech was excellent. It was both motivating and inspiring to young entrepreneurs,” said Sherman Galbreath, a fourth-year student in the College.
On the morning of Sunday, April 5, a GSB alumni Brunch was held at the Sheraton. Most attendees and AAMBA members felt the conference could be improved by having a more diverse group of attendees.
“I would like to see other groups attend the conference as well including Hispanics and Asian-Americans. In order for us to succeed, we need to know how to relate to each other,” said Johnnie Watson III, a first-year student in the GSB.

Originally published Tuesday, April 7, 1998