This post is a part of the Student Blogger series - each post is written by a current UCLA Anderson student, and provides first-hand perspectives and experiences about being an MBA student at UCLA Anderson.
Student Blogger: Alexander Cain '17
Undergrad: Cornell University- Applied Economics And Management, Accounting
Pre-MBA: Bankruptcy Auditor
Summer Internship: Wrigley - Marketing
The below is an excerpt of an original post "When an MBA Diversity Conference Delivers" in the UCLA Anderson Blog - please click here to view the whole blog post
Whenever I, an African-American male, hear about any “diversity” event, two predictions run through my mind: either it’s an event where universities push current diverse students involved in their program to attract other diverse prospects, but then fail to show how diversity matters to the greater student body; or it’s a diversity event that emphasizes diversity of thought and doesn’t include many multicultural students.
As someone who has gone through the MBA application process and attended several diversity events at business schools, I understand how hard it can be for an MBA program to find the proper balance required for a successful diversity event: promoting an expansive ideal of diversity encompassing women, LBGTQ and multicultural candidates while still addressing each community’s unique set of challenges and opportunities.
A common mantra I always heard growing up in a predominantly African-American neighborhood was, “Give back to those who come behind you.” I decided to participate in UCLA Anderson’s annual Embracing Diversity Conference to tell my Anderson story, gain an understanding of the pressing challenges among new prospects and give back to my community of African-Americans.
The kickoff event afforded a glimpse into what it’s like to be an Anderson student via the social context of Anderson Afternoons, the weekly happy hour where students reconnect over drinks and a small meal. The first full day of the conference began with Dean Olian expressing her commitment to ensuring we embrace diversity of thought and cultures. Discussions focused on the unique professional network Anderson provides its students and offered insight into how hiring diverse MBAs has become a long-term business priority for companies. Prospective MBA students were able to envision what a career might look like with industry leaders such as AIG, Amazon, AT&T, Danaher, E. & J. Gallo, Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley and PwC.
The evening was capped off with a dinner and discussion with Rick Welts, president and chief operating officer of the Golden State Warriors and the first prominent sports executive who is openly gay. He talked about his journey starting as a ball boy with the Seattle Supersonics on up to winning championships as president of the Golden State Warriors. While it’s great to hear from current students about the value of being a diverse candidate, all of the prospective students were excited to hear a C-suite executive talk about his experience and overcoming challenges.
The last day gave us another chance to tell prospective students about the Anderson brand as we see it — a fun, collaborative, smart group of individuals working together to achieve professional and personal success.
One attendee remarked, “The diversity conference was a real surprise. It was organized, had great speakers, and wasn’t just focused on Anderson’s diversity numbers. It was great to also see ‘non-diverse’ students volunteer at the event, which was a bit different than other schools.”
The Embracing Diversity Conference assuaged my initial hesitations about yet another event of this sort by demonstrating the school’s commitment to diversity at all levels of the Anderson staff, by the upscale presentation at the new UCLA Luskin Center, and through pledging the budget and careful planning necessary to make the conference empowering to prospective students, not only with respect to their MBA, but to their professional career going forward.