Does the Black MBA Hold Any Value in Detroit?

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(By Corey Holmes)

The NBMBAA (National Black MBA Association) was founded in 1970 at the University of Chicago. The organization’s three key aims are education, employment, and leadership. To date, the organization has over 40 chapters, 26 collegiate chapters, and 25 Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) programs. The Detroit Chapter was established in 1976 and its vision is to provide a voice for the African American manager while the mission is to assist in creating intellectual end economic capital within the community.

The NBMBAA Detroit Chapter has several programs including community service, student affairs, corporate affairs, marketing and branding, fund development, and most importantly membership, but the LOT program is essential because it provides future leaders the opportunity to master needed skills.The LOT program is devised of professionals who focus on mentoring and student empowerment where students have access to business professionals around the world helping them develop skills in leadership, academics, professional development, community service, securing internships & scholarships, goal setting, and attainment.

The program was created by Anthony Moffet, a key member of the Detroit Chapter executive team. The city of Detroit depicts urban youth as lost souls but the LOT program shows with time and mentorship students can be successful even in insurmountable odds.The NBMBAA held its annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia in October and recruiters and job seekers were there in enormous crowds. The conference has everything from carousing with Hollywood Celebrities to town hall meetings with the political elite. The biggest attraction is still the career fair. Vast companies from every industry come to the conference to find the best talent for their organizations. There have been those who attended conferences and were offered jobs on the spot; (A friend of mine who is a director of a local collegiate institution was offered several jobs in three days because she had the mental capacity and the experience to seal the deal. She turned down all offers because she wants to stay in Detroit. Go figure!!).

This article has been scribed for three reasons; the first is to hear the perspective of a senior level Fortune 500 executive who has been involved with the Black MBA’s locally and nationally for over 10 years; The second participant is a meticulous perfectionist who is rising up the corporate ladder and secured her current position because of attending the NBMBAA Conference in Los Angeles, California, last year; Our last contributor is a small business owner and attended the conference to volunteer and to keep her mind and strategic skills sharp. All of the participants are on the leadership team of the Detroit Black MBA’s and their continued commitment to their community, profession, and organization is a pivotal reason why the NBMBAA Detroit chapter is a top 10 chapter in the organization.

John Williams, a senior level executive at Chrysler Corporation has been an active member of the Detroit MBA Chapter for over 10 years, and has several perspectives on the significance of a NBMBAA Conference as a recruiter and how the Chapter can help in reviving Detroit. As a leader in the NBMBAA Detroit Chapter, John Williams has seen the conference grow in numbers but also in ethnic diversity. He insists, “because of the Top Fortune 100 firms commitment in supporting the NBMBAA annual conference (ING, Chrysler, Google, Ford, and Bank of America for example), what was primarily an African American event now includes an array of professionals from different nationalities and ethnicities. He added that it would be interesting to see the breakdown analysis of how many ethnicities attend the conference, how many are students opposed to professionals in transition, and how many individuals have secured employment from the direct result of attending the conference.” As a member of the NBMBAA Detroit Chapter, John relishes going to different cities networking with old friends and colleagues and hearing some of the challenges and successes other chapters are having. He claims, “It is always good to experience and connect new opportunities with individuals who have the same mission stated goals.”

Everybody has different views and ideals on what an organizations benefit are or can be. Some people like to network, and others prefer mentoring or being involved with community activities but, the Black MBA’s are essentially here for two key reasons; the first is to connect undergraduate and graduate students with a network environment where they can talk to professionals who have travelled similar paths. Most former students will agree that having a conversation with someone who can give sound advice through experience and help make the connection for the student is always favorable. Secondly, business professionals want an environment that intersects socializing with potential business opportunities. The Detroit Chapter allots for dialogue between professionals to embrace their uniqueness whether being an entrepreneur, an executive, or a middle manager. Many connections have been made from finding an accountant or attorney to helping someone transition in their career in a downward economy. John continues to strategize with the rest of the NBMBAA Detroit Chapter leadership team and knows the value of marketing a brand. “The urban community needs to see the great things African Americans are doing in business and in turn the younger generation will have higher aspirations of what they can achieve.”

Tishia Garnett is the Membership Chair of the NBMBAA Detroit Chapter which is responsible for finding new members, reclaiming old members, and keeping present members abreast of current events and membership advantages. At the NBMBAA Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Tishia was asked to recruit new talent for her company. The irony of Tishia being a recruiter for Eaton Corporation was just over a year ago she was at the NBMBAA Conference in Los Angeles, California, not looking for a new job and fast forward to date is now recruiting new talent. Tishia Garnett is a very meticulous individual who exudes excellence in her professional work and expected nothing less from the participants she interviewed. “My experience showed that the MBA candidates exhibited strong academic credentials from top business schools and many of them displayed relevant internships and job experience on their resumes. I am looking forward to working with and mentoring our bright and energetic future leaders.

Valencia Hamilton attended the conference in Atlanta this year for two reasons; service and gaining knowledge. As a small business owner, Valencia is at a point where most MBA graduates want to be at some point in their careers. Many MBA recipients usually receive training in the world of corporate America and then want to test their knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship. Valencia is the treasurer of the NBMBAA Detroit Chapter and is usually giving advice or delegating tasks. The conference allowed her to meet various MBA backgrounds with a multitude of experience that she could apply to her business. “I love getting out of my comfort zone and connecting with individuals that have expertise in concepts I know nothing about.” When she was not volunteering at events or the career fair, Valencia attended town hall meetings on societal issues and watched students compete at case competitions. She testifies, “you are successful long-term when you are the least successful in your inner circle because that educates, engages, energizes, empowers, and elevates you to new heights.”

The NBMBAA Detroit Chapter is here to provide a platform for continued business professional’s growth and to give students a link between scholastic and real world successes and challenges. Many people go to the NBMBAA Conference to party, find a job, and network with potential new business, but they all have this in common; education is the key to the C-suite, starting a business venture, or teaching others strategic principles needed to sustain growth. The Detroit Chapter is in the community helping young minds evolve into tomorrow leaders, assisting with those transitioning into new careers, and finally providing a place where like minds can meet. Detroit, because of its labor intense image, high illiterate rate, and constant corruption in city politics, needs all skilled organizations on deck to help in its rebirth. The Black MBA’s look to play a critical role in its new improved modified look.



About Cory Holmes

Corey Holmes has had many opportunities to work and serve the community in different capacities (entrepreneur, franchise owner, consultant, sales, public relations, teacher, business professional, board member). He currently writes articles for SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) South Africa and is business counselor for SCORE.