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News & Events

Carole Brown ’89 delivers the keynote address at the Black Management Association Conference at the James L. Allen Center on Nov. 10.

2012 Black Management Association Conference - Carole Brown

2012 Black Management Association Conference

Keynote speaker Carole Brown ’89 talks struggle, growth, using business skills for civic good

By Daniel P. Smith

11/16/2012 - At an event characterized by candor and sincerity, Barclays Capital managing director Carole Brown '89 offered a fitting, story-filled conclusion to the 26th Black Management Association Conference on Nov. 10 at the James L. Allen Center.

In frank detail, Brown, a former managing director at Lehman Brothers, discussed the investment banking firm's much-publicized 2008 bankruptcy as well as the important lessons she learned from the chaotic string of events.

"The bankruptcy was a struggle in which I lost a lot of money and a lot of faith in people, but a time in which I also grew," Brown told nearly 200 students, alumni, professionals and prospective students during her keynote presentation.

Under the theme "Empowering You to Make a Lasting Impact," conference co-organizers Ashleigh Gibson '13 and Tanya Lindsay '13 ensured that the daylong event would give attendees tangible ways to improve their own lives and the lives of others.

Four key lessons
Even amid the turmoil at Lehman Brothers — daily conference calls, conflicting news and client panic — Brown said she was able to learn four key lessons that have since guided her professional life:
  • Never burn bridges
  • People rarely act or make decisions in your best interest
  • Continuously nurture relationships
  • Recognize that you are lucky and blessed
Though Brown said investment banking can be "a sharp-elbowed snake pit," she noted that she has remained in the field to help her clients, namely municipalities and nonprofits, think about their options and problems. Embracing the conference's theme of making a lasting impact, she encouraged attendees to use their power and talents to act civically.

"I'm as interested in solving the problem of public education as I am in helping the Chicago Public Schools borrow money," Brown said.

All about impact
Before Brown's event-closing keynote, five panelists, including Nuevo Labs co-founder Juan Hernandez '12 and Healthgreen CEO Ivy Walker '98, joined moderator, Kellogg lecturer and Muller and Monroe Asset Management Principal Alfred Sharp in a panel discussion about capital opportunities for minority startups.

All six professionals universally championed the importance of relationships in accessing capital and driving entrepreneurial success.

"You build relationships before you need anything," Sharp said.

Assembling thought leaders from business, government, media, entertainment and more, the daylong conference featured two additional panel discussions: one addressing successful turnaround management and another assessing the importance of board service to one's career.

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