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Mendoza promotes diversity

Christian Myers | Friday, March 22, 2013


The 6th annual Notre Dame Diversity Conference will address building stronger businesses by fostering diversity, second-year MBA student and conference co-chair Andrew Bedward said.  

Bedward said the goal of the conference is to affirm the importance of diversity in both business and academia. 

“The primary focus is promoting diversity in the corporate world and academia,” Bedward said. “We also want to remind people that diversity is broad. It’s not just ethnic diversity, it’s gender diversity, it’s diversity of ideas, it’s diversity of backgrounds.”

The conference will primarily take place in the Mendoza College of Business, but events will also occur in the Notre Dame Stadium press box and in Legends, Bedward said. Friday will feature a case competition for MBA students, but also a networking session and a dinner that will be open to the public. Saturday the conference will be open to anyone, Bedward said. 

He said the conference will feature four speakers, including Mendoza College of Business Dean Roger Huang and keynote speaker LaQuita Hall, vice president of business operations at AT&T. The conference will also include panel discussions with guest panelists, break-out sessions with faculty and two networking sessions, he said.

Bedward said he expects the highlight of the event will be the speakers and panelists sharing their stories.

“We have a great group of speakers and panelists, so I’m most excited about hearing them discuss their experiences.” Bedward said, “They’re not going to stand up there and tell you something out of a book, they’re going to tell you their stories and the lessons they’ve learned.”

Bedward said the biggest change compared to last year’s conference is the addition of breakout sessions where attendees will split into smaller groups and discuss various topics related to diversity in the corporate world with Notre Dame faculty. 

The event is hosted and organized by the MBA program at the Mendoza College of Business, Bedward said.

He said the conference distinguishes the MBA program from the equivalent programs at other universities.

“This conference is one of the hallmark events of the Notre Dame program and I think it’s something that separates us from the other top ten programs. It shows a commitment to diversity that is more than words.” He said, “It’s grown every year and I expect it will continue to grow in the future. We want this to become a campus-wide event.”

With the help of faculty advisor Megan Stiphany, co-chairs Bedward and Dana Twomey, also a second-year MBA student, led the conference’s organizing team.

Bedward said each member of the group had different responsibilities, including contacting sponsors and organizing the conference agenda. 

The group began planning the conference at the end of the last academic year, Bedward said. Their first task was to choose the theme “building a stronger business through diversity,” he said.

Bedward said the organizing team then planned the various aspects of the conference and began fundraising.

“Once we had a theme, we had to think about the kind of companies that embody the theme and have a commitment to promoting diversity, map out the two days and reach out to our sponsors to fundraise,” he said.

The conference has eight corporate sponsors and each could send a speaker to the conference, send a panelist or give money -at various sponsorship levels, he said. NetApp and AT&T both gave money and provided a speaker and Skanska both gave money and provided a panelist.

Bedward said he is impressed by the value the conference’s corporate sponsors place on diversity.

“Companies sending C level executives out to South Bend, and those executives missing work, shows the importance they place on diversity,” he said.

Attendance is free and open to anyone. The organizers have made an effort to reach out to the South Bend community and undergraduates, Bedward said. Online registration is recommended via the conference’s web page on the Mendoza College of Business website, Bedward said.