It was not just for Black people or civilians. The 34th annual conference of the National Black MBA Association just concluded in Indianapolis, Indiana. The primary focus was leadership and career development. Specialized training sessions on leadership and entrepreneurship were conducted in two different day-long series of seminars. General sessions examined branding, productivity and community impact. Approximately 8,000 registrants plus another 2,000 sponsors, speakers and VIPs attended. Journalist Ed Gordon moderated a panel and Charlie Wilson, formerly of the Gap Band, performed.
The U.S. Marine Corps led an interesting workshop on leadership. They emphasized the 14 characteristics that all Marine Corps officers are expected to master for which the acronym J.J. D.I.D. T.I.E. B.U.C.K.L.E. was created to help memorize so many leadership traits. Lieutenant Colonels Douglas Lamont and Sarah Diehl gave an upbeat back-and-forth presentation with PowerPoint slides. They asked and answered question and showed a moving video on the history-making Montford Point Marines who desegregated the Corps in 1942 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The surprising piece was the presence of several uniformed female marines of various ethnic backgrounds who talked about diversity in the Marine Corps and how they are treated the same as men and are expected to perform the same with the exception of a few activities requiring significant upper body strength. Officer diversity is a priority for the Corps which is actively recruiting on historically black college and university campuses and at conferences attended by college-educated minorities of organizations like the NBMBAA.
There was a good sprinkling of non-black attendees at the conference. Ten years ago this would have been a bit unusual. A group of two dozen Indian students enrolled in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus attended. Most of them were freshmen who want to get an early start on planning their careers. Three of them already own and operate their very own I.T. business. The NBMBAA welcomes participants of all ethnic and racial backgrounds to attend the conference.
The conference highlight was the annual Career Expo with three hundred employers who put on elaborate exhibits and actively recruit job applicants. Many conduct job interviews onsite so participants come prepared with their resumes. Nearly all companies represented were Fortune 500 corporations such as Wells Fargo, PepsiCo, Cummins, Dell, Massachusetts Mutual, Target and many more. The Houston chapter is now preparing for the 35th conference.