Florida A&M University’s School of Business and Industry’s (SBI) 5th Global Leadership Conference was held during the Classic Weekend on Thursday, Nov. 19 through Friday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
This year’s conference theme was “Encouraging Innovative and Sustainable Business Practice.” SBIans along with students in other majors participated in two days of dynamic networking and empowering sessions allowing students to develop new and expand existing partnerships with alumni and private stakeholders to maintain the relevance and currency of their academic programs.
The conference kicked off Thursday with a welcome mixer featuring Sherwood Brown Jr. and the Loud Pack. Students arrived on the following day to take part in the plenary sessions facilitated by FAMU alumni.
The first plenary session was about, “Investing in Innovative Business Practices for Sustainable Success,” facilitated by Tylana Byrd Hill, a senior/finance manager at the Walt Disney Company. Hill engaged with the students by having them break into groups and constructing a list of rules that needs to be altered or discontinued on FAMU’s campus. The purpose of the activity was to get the students to be innovative and learn how to conduct certain business practices that are easily implemented, but highly impactful.
Michelle King, director of finance at the Walt Disney World Resorts facilitated a plenary session on, “Creative Approaches to Innovative Sustainable Business Practices.” The importance of how a professional approaches failure.
“One of the things I ask myself is, ‘what have I learned and how do I grow from that,’” King said. “Open up to being vulnerable and taking risk. When you have a goal there are many ways to get to it, which is why I encourage creativity.”
As the conference proceeded with more interactive sessions about the importance of cross-cultural exchange, managing director of The Global Citizens Community based in Hong Kong, Elijah John Bowdre, expanded on how to remain relevant in today's global society through his experiences as a professional in China.
"As an undergrad student, I saw the opportunities in China, one of the largest economies in the world, the most populous place on the Earth. The hub and the driver of the global economy, along with the United States," Bowdre said. “When I was studying abroad in Shanghai, China, one of the things that I did not see was myself and people that look like me. That's when it took a hold of me. I was able to leverage my culturally background with the need that was in Shanghai.”
With The Global Citizens Community, which was started by Mr. Bowdre and his wife, Raushanah Bowdre, developed this company with the mission to bridge cultural gaps and engage with the rest of the world.
"We want to teach people what exactly they need to know about the global society so you can avoid risk and leverage the opportunities, but you need to be aware that they are around and be interested in engaging in it," Bowdre said.
Students took notes after each presentation and asked questions pertaining to each speaker's focus. Towards the end of the final session for the day, participants in the conference had the opportunity to experience a guided tour with two FAMU alumni, Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, at the Epcot Theme Park exhibit, "The Great American Heritage Gallery," featuring The Kinsey Collection.
The Kinsey Collection is one of the leading private collection of African American Art. With exhibits nationwide and its first international exhibition in Hong Kong starting in December 2016. Additionally, The Kinsey Collection will open up an exhibit at the Foster Tanner Fine Arts Gallery on FAMU's campus in late January 2016 through late March 2016.
"The education you are getting at FAMU is everything you need in life," Kinsey said. "Another word for success is progress. Discovery means learning, therefore you want to emulate success. You do fit in the world. Take the opportunities that FAMU is giving you."
On the last day of the conference, participants continued to engage in plenary sessions learning about utilizing proactive strategies to promote personal, professional and organizational success along with innovative sustainable initiatives for K-8 schools.
Before the participants close out the conference to head to the Florida Blue Football Classic game against the FAMU Rattlers vs. Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats, the last plenary session feature student presentations and the FAMU APP Challenge winners.
Shelby Avery, a MBA student from Saginaw, Mich., and a student presenter, expanded on all the valuable information she gained from each presenter throughout the conference.
"One of the things that a presenter said that stuck out to me the most, was when Michelle King stated that we are always looking at what we need to do," Avery said. "But instead let's look at it as what if we did this, and why are not doing this?"