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BMA co-chair Kevin Christie '03 and James Reynolds Jr. ’82 chairman, CEO and co-founder of Loop Capital Markets.

Black Management Association conference finds “winning combination”

By Colbert Boyd, Kevin Christie and Lynn Watkins

4/4/2003 - The Kellogg School’s 16th Annual Black Management Association (BMA) Conference was held April 11 to 13 on the school’s Chicago campus. This year’s conference theme, “Self, Family, Community, Career: Striving for a Winning Combination,” was inspired by the need for business professionals to maintain a balanced lifestyle in today’s increasingly hectic world.

Co-hosted by the Evening Black Management Association at The Managers’ Program, the conference represented the first student-run Kellogg event coordinated jointly by clubs in the full-time and part-time MBA programs.

The conference’s opening day offered Kellogg School alumni an update on the state of Kellogg. Associate Dean David Besanko ’82 and Director of Alumni Relations Jim Corboy ’94 each presented their perspectives on the latest Kellogg initiatives. Afterward, some past and present BMA members ventured to Hoops the Gym, the facility made famous by Michael Jordan, where they participated in the BMA’s annual alumni-student basketball game. The evening concluded at Wieboldt Hall with Alumni Reunion Night, an event that allowed Kellogg School alums, students and admitted students to network and share Kellogg stories and experiences.

The second day of the conference was filled with dynamic keynote speakers, timely workshops and the BMA’s 2nd Annual High School Business Plan Competition. Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain and Ed Thompson ’88, who coordinated the inaugural BMA conference in 1988, opened the day’s events. The morning’s keynote speaker, Wendy Lewis ’95, captivated her capacity audience while discussing how she balances her personal life given the demands of her role as a successful vice president for Major League Baseball.

Throughout the morning, students from across Chicago competed in the High School Business Plan Competition. The winning business plan focused on providing real estate services to Chicago’s Gold Coast.

During lunch, Jylla Moore Foster, CEO of Crystal Stairs Inc., challenged all conference participants to look inside themselves to maximize their potential and discover ways to share their talents with others. Workshops throughout the day explored topics such as: creating opportunities for self-employment and entrepreneurship; honing negotiation skills; financial planning for the first five years after earning an MBA; managing stress; successful mentoring; and launching a career that leads to being CEO.

Saturday’s events culminated with a banquet at Chicago’s Allerton Crowne Plaza featuring keynote speaker James Reynolds Jr. ’82. Mr. Reynolds discussed the excitement and challenge of his 20-year career in financial services and entrepreneurship, including his 10 years at Merrill Lynch as well as his 1997 co-founding of Loop Capital Markets, where he is chairman and CEO.

After a Saturday of learning and networking, the conference concluded with the annual gospel breakfast on Sunday at the Lakeshore Center, featuring the Northwestern Community Ensemble (NCE), a multicultural campus ensemble formed in 1971. NCE filled the room with their beautiful, powerful voices. The BMA was also honored to have Associate Dean Emeritus Ed Wilson, a long-time supporter, as a special guest.

Lynn Watkins, BMA Conference co-chair, said this year’s conference was a phenomenal success. “The 16th Annual BMA Conference was one of the best that the BMA and the Kellogg community has ever seen,” Watkins said.

This article’s co-authors are all members of the Kellogg School Class of 2003. Colbert Boyd and Kevin Christie are also co-chairs of the Kellogg Black Management Association.