African-American MBA Association on its 31st Annual DuSable Conference

AAMBAA is currently preparing to host its signature event, the 31st Annual DuSable Conference: “Work Hard. Network Harder.” ChiBus recently sat down with conference co-chairs Kelly Henry ’16 and Kharay Kenyatta ‘16 to learn more about this conference and what makes it so special.

ChiBus: Why did you choose to focus on networking for this year’s conference? And what does “Work Hard. Network Harder.” mean to you?

Kharay: I saw the value of networking firsthand throughout my career before Booth and even here I’ve noticed that some of the best opportunities I’ve had have been because of connections I’ve made. I get the impression though that many Boothies would rather be in a spreadsheet than out networking in person. However, when we get to our post-MBA roles it’ll be incredibly important to know how to exert the power we do have because at the end of the day, if you’re not getting the right exposure your hard work won’t necessarily get you where you want to be. Your network is a differentiator.


Kelly: When looking at “performance, image, and exposure” you find that exposure is the most important factor for getting ahead and networking helps you achieve the necessary exposure for personal and professional advancement.

ChiBus: Who is the conference geared toward?

Kharay: Anybody! We’ve purposely included speakers and panelists from different professional backgrounds so that attendees can spot trends within and across industries.

AAMBAA Co-chair Kharay Kenyatta '16

AAMBAA Co-chair Kharay Kenyatta '16

AAMBAA co-chair Kelly Henry '16 

AAMBAA co-chair Kelly Henry '16 

Kelly: DuSable is held during Booth Alumni weekend intentionally. We target current students, alums, and prospective students. We also have a strong track record of attracting high level executives who want to give back to Booth and meet current talent. There’s a misperception that DuSable is for Black people but I feel like that’s largely because people like to network in circles of comfort. DuSable has such industry and attendee diversity that it forces you to network past that--which is a great thing because it grants exposure that most other conferences cannot. DuSable really is for everyone!

Chibus: What makes the DuSable conference unique from other conferences?

Kelly: The fact that it draws such a mixed crowd: alumni, prospective, and current students and the fact that it’s not industry specific.

Kharay: The fact that the theme changes annually and is universally applicable so attendees gain value from every speaker. It’s one of few conferences to have speakers that range from 28 to 66 years old and everything in between. Attendees will connect with professionals fresh out of school who can identify with their situation, as well as hear from people who have been working for decades and can guide your long term perspective.

ChiBus: Thank you Kelly & Kharay for sitting down to speak with us and good luck on what sounds like it will be a phenomenal conference!

After this interview ChiBus was curious about what others had to say about networking and we did a little research of our own. One Business Insider article we found states "The New York Times reports that companies like Ernst & Young emphasize referral-based hiring. Last year (2013), 45% of non-entry-level placements at the professional services giant came from referrals, a jump from the 28% in 2010."[1] Further, in a recent Ted Talk prominent American sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis expounded that the architecture of one’s network has a profound on their life experience.[2]

With that in mind it seems like the DuSable conference might be on to something afterall. Check it out Saturday, May 14th at Gleacher.

[1] Baer, Drake. "Who You Know Is Even More Important Than You Realize."Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 07 Apr. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

[2] "The Hidden Influence of Social Networks." Nicholas Christakis:. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.