As both diversity and a career / talent development consultant, I seek innovative programs in those areas and am always willing to assist and present at community activities to support diversity and talent development efforts. In this blog for Black History Month (link) (February in the USA and Canada), I would like to introduce an excellent program focusing on development of emerging talent – the “Leaders of Tomorrow” Program.
The NBMBAA RDU LOT program (link) is part of a national network of middle and high school students and distinguished professionals who focus on empowering African American students by challenging, stimulating and teaching them to grow in leadership and professional development. The effort is administered, coordinated and financially supported by the local chapters of the National Black MBA Association, whose overall goal is leading in the creation of educational opportunities and economic growth for African Americans.
I first connected with our local NBMBAA RDU chapter (link) when I met their volunteer VP of Operations and LOT Program Director, Mr. Marion Johnson, at a local event for business leaders sponsored by the Triangle Business Journal (link to blog about that event – African American local business leader and General Manager at Biogen Idec, Machelle Sanders, presented a fantastic overview of key leadership attributes.)
After meeting Marion, he invited me to the annual NBMBAA RDU-LOT Fundraiser and Gala where they introduced the participants of that year’s LOT program, celebrated the successes of the Program and held an awards
ceremony for the students. I was so impressed by this work. Truly, all of us need to support activities that help build a diverse pipeline of excellent leaders – it is only by providing strong encouragement and excellent resources across all segments of our society can we truly reach our full potential for economic development.
This past December, I was invited to be a workshop presenter at the NBMBAA RDU LOT December meeting. I presented “Leading in a Diverse World” highlighting how the best leaders will understand the full spectrum of diversity and realize that leveraging the diversity within groups and teams will lead to the best results and maximum productivity from each participant. These students were sharp and attentive and I look forward to seeing them in the future as our community and business leaders.
In addition to having these workshop sessions one Saturday per month, the NBMBAA RDU LOT program also selects and prepares five students to represent the RDU Chapter at the National Business Case Competition where LOT programs from around the country develop and showcase their proposed solutions to a real business issue. In preparation for the competition the students are taught advanced math, critical thinking, analytical skills, writing, research, and public speaking skills, financial projection development and plan implementation. In 2013, they placed 3rd in the nation, winning a $5,000 scholarship. As part of my diversity presentation, I emphasized how building their team with a diverse group with various experiences, talents and backgrounds could lead a stronger overall competitive solution- much as in the real business world!
To close, I encourage every reader of this blog to look for ways they can participate and have an impact somewhere in their community to help foster diverse leaders for tomorrow.