MBASA conference focuses on change management

In today’s constantly evolving business environment, change seems to be the only constant.

This was the theme of the second annual conference of the MBA Student Association (MBASA) of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, held on Friday, Feb. 23 at Gore Recital Hall.

“We decided to focus on change this year,” said Alex Brooks, an MBA student and MBASA’s Conference Committee co-chair (pictured above). “Disruptive technologies, election results and other random stimuli have the power to alter the business landscape in an instant. We want to equip our colleagues with the practical tools to recognize opportunities for change, and to view change as an opportunity for immense personal growth that adds value to any organization.”

Conference attendees heard from leaders in a broad range of industries as they shared their stories about managing change, from recognizing opportunities to implementing strategies that embrace transformation.

The conference opened with remarks from the Conference Committee and Lerner College Senior Associate Dean Jack Baroudi.

A panel discussion followed, moderated by Kurt Norder, associate professor of management. Senior professionals from diverse industries explained how their organizations identify critical trends, plan and strategize for change, and how these changes impact the future of their respective industries.

“Today’s conference attendees are getting firsthand insights from top executives into the ways leading companies assess the need for change and implement challenging solutions,” Norder said. “MBA students who can adopt that mindset will likely succeed as they set lofty goals and leverage the many opportunities at Lerner to push beyond their limits.”

N. Scott Phillips, mid-Atlantic director for MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center – Baltimore (pictured below), delivered the conference’s keynote address, entitled “Personal Perspective: Preparing for Change.” The address encouraged attendees to keep open minds in today’s ever-changing business environment.

“Staying open to advice means you gain opportunities that others see that you might not,” Phillips said.

After a networking lunch with alumni and regional employers, participants attended several sessions on a range of topical business issues, including a workshop on key economic trends led by Jeffrey Tobacman, associate professor of economics, and a panel discussion on women in business moderated by Wendy Smith, associate professor of management.

“Women can be tremendous contributors to an organization’s strategy and leadership, but often feel left out and left behind,” Smith said about the event. “Men seek to engage women’s leadership, but feel stumped or challenged to do so.”

“This panel sought to break down some of those challenges,” Smith continued. “Gender equity is not a women’s issue – it’s a people issue, and I was particularly thrilled that the audience for this panel included both men and women.”

MBASA also presented a session on presentation and case competition skills delivered by Brooks and Sarah Meadows, two-time winners of the Carol Ammon Case Competition.

“We wanted to provide a varied set of opportunities to help our diverse participants build their toolkit,” said Arjun Kasi, MBASA’s executive vice president and Brooks’ co-chair. “Our sessions focused on understanding how organizations identify and manage critical trends while further exploring creative and innovative techniques that are evolving the entrepreneurial landscape.”

The student-led conference drew 128 attendees, including 14 Lerner alumni and a handful of undergraduate students.

“The conference was a great learning and networking experience,” said MBA student Anyelo Correa. “The panelists and guest speakers were very informative. I was interested to hear what is changing in the current business landscape and how we can adapt ourselves to be successful in the future.”

“We delivered an experience that went beyond the classroom to provide tangible examples of how we can operationalize  so much of what we have been learning,” Brooks said. “We got great feedback, and the Lerner community is still talking about the ideas they heard at the conference.”

More information on all of Lerner’s MBA and master’s programs will be available at the Lerner College’s next open house on Thursday, April 5 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Trabant Center. Register for the April open house here.

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