Every year, Kellogg students, with the help of key administrators, plan and execute tremendous conferences for the benefit of the Kellogg, Northwestern and the greater Chicago community. And, every year, the Black Management Association (BMA) Conference is one not to miss. This year’s conference, themed “Cultural Capital: Cross-Cultural Influence in the Global Marketplace,” took place three weeks ago on Nov. 9, but the insights and leadership takeaways will be valuable for the next three decades.
Nneka Rimmer ’01 provided energy and passion as she set the tone for the day. When asked how one brings an authentic self into the workplace, she shared a personal story of how some of her musings on social media were discovered by a client’s spouse. In an unexpected twist of events, those very real and personal thoughts on domestic current events landed her a position on a non-profit board. In an era where the risks of oversharing and social media personal brand management are critical career considerations, it was refreshing to know that one can bridge personal and professional culture.
The lessons learned at the event are widely applicable regardless of industry or function. That was no more evident than when creative marketing guru Steve Stoute shared his “10 Commandments of Cultural Curiosity.”
The first three struck deep nerves in the audience:
- Confess ignorance
- Ask naïve questions
- Engage emerging subcultures
Coincidentally, these things are easier said than done but, when well executed, can open up a treasure chest of opportunities for anyone looking to thrive in his or her career. Being a career changer (Stoute was formerly a music industry power player) definitely made Stoute’s journey more relatable for the MBAs in the audience (past, present, and future).
Additional sessions on the power of pop culture, perception management and entrepreneurship rounded out the day. And judging by the bustling conversations during breaks and after the event, everyone left a bit wealthier.
Evan Sharp ’12 (@evancsharp) is currently a management consultant at Accenture, based in Chicago. His extracurricular activities include actively serving in the Chicago chapters of national non-profits with which he is affiliated, serving on the Associate Board for LINK Unlimited and remaining active in the Kellogg community.