Business (Not) As Usual: Recap of the Fall 2020 Career Conference

This year’s Kellstadt Career Management Conference featured outstanding guest speakers, who all shared incredible insights on how to navigate the world of business that has certainly evolved in 2020. Each speaker offered unique perspectives that can be extremely helpful to DePaul students as they prepare for their careers. Here are the recaps of both days:

Day One: Discussion on Diversity and Inclusion

Each guest speaker shared their own unique ideas and experiences on furthering company diversity. It really starts with companies taking initiative. Steven Johnson, senior manager of inclusion and diversity at American Airlines, explained that the organization advances their commitment to diversity by creating outreach programs to underprivileged communities. Other speakers mentioned how companies are developing training requirements for their employees to educate themselves on diversity.

One of the key requirements of building a culture that includes awareness for diversity and inclusion is asking the right questions. For instance, how should you approach sensitive topics? These conversations can be tough, but the guest speakers emphasized that having these difficult conversations is imperative. Once people start dialogue about topics like oppression, racism, inclusion, etc., the more people become aware of how different ethnicities deal with these issues every day.

Some people may be too stubborn about questioning their pre-conceived notions, and many choose not to hear the issues that plague communities of color. Hence, this is causing division among us, and lends itself to creating conflict in society. As a result, businesses are beginning to take action when it comes to diversity, inclusion and equity, which is becoming an increasingly important part of the modern-day business model. This culture shift includes outreach programs, diversity-friendly policies and open-door policies that allow employees to speak up about diversity issues, creating a more unified workplace. The guest speakers did an outstanding job acknowledging that more needs to be done and communicating the requisite steps needed for a safe workplace culture.

Day Two: Relationship-Building & Improv Workshop

As business students, relationship-building is arguably the most important part of our job no matter what field we are in. It’s crucial to network and develop relationships throughout the workplace and beyond. And believe me – we all are going to meet a variety of colorful personalities in business, and the more connections we make, the better we will be able to find the right occupation. Jim Mourey is an associate professor of marketing at the Driehaus College of Business at DePaul and led the workshop on day two of the conference.

During the workshop, Jim discussed improvisation based on his experience from The Second City, a famous comedy club in Chicago. How much can improv techniques really help us in business? You’d be surprised. No matter the type of business we do, people will inevitably run into situations where improvisation is needed. We aren’t going to be prepared in everything we do. There’s a chance we may run into a high-level executive in a company and need to create dialogue off the top of our head in order to make a positive impression, or we may work on a project where we need to make a quick decision, or lead a sales call that is becoming stale.

The point is that the better we can think on our feet, the more we can impact the outcome in impromptu situations. We can then build relationships with anyone in business thanks to improv skills that will allow us to adapt to every unique situation we come across.

CMC Fall 2020 Main Takeaway:

All in all, both workshops proved to be indicative of the overarching themes of 2020. The first being diversity and the racial discourse within our country. The second theme being improving the way we do business, thanks to COVID-19. The workshops were examples of how society today is evolving and how we have an obligation to evolve with it.

Steven Raju is a current MBA candidate at Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. He graduated from Northern Illinois University (NIU) in 2020 with his Bachelor of Science in marketing and obtained a professional sales certificate. In addition, Steven served as vice president of NIU’s Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity and served as an alumni advisor to his undergrad brothers. He currently works as a part-time sales consultant as CarMax and is in the process of creating his own sports website and podcast.



Posted on

November 4, 2020