Jones School MBA and professor hold panel discussion at this year’s NBMBAA conference

The National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) held its 35th annual conference and exhibition, titled Courageous Leadership: Owning Your Own Success, on September 10-14, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston with over 10,000 in attendance. The Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice was lead academic sponsor of the conference, joining Fortune 500 company sponsors such as Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil and Wells Fargo. The conference is regarded as one of the nation's largest business and professional conferences and expositions and drew attendees from across the country in addition to well-known leaders and personalities such as Rev. Al Sharpton and attorney and talk show host, Star Jones.

On Thursday, Rice held a Meet the Experts panel discussion, “Charting a Successful Game Plan in the New World of Marketing: Lessons from the Field,” which featured presentations by Julian Duncan (Rice ’99, Rice MBA ’06), Global Brand Director of Nike’s LeBron James line, and Jones School Visiting Professor of Marketing Constance Porter, PhD.


Duncan opened by discussing his own initial reluctance to refer to his student-athlete status in interviews and on the job hunt. Through a mentor, Duncan later realized that such experience was rare and a strong point of differentiation between himself and other candidates. He further illustrated the importance of differentiation, using a clip from the movie, “Hot Rod.” Duncan’s entertaining and enlightening talk continued to feature clips from popular movies to illustrate his maxims for success in both marketing and a successful long-term career.

He instructed the audience, varying from students currently working on their MBAs to those in mid-career, that they should know themselves, develop situational awareness, avoid hubris, learn to tell great stories and become the go-to person within their realm of expertise.

Following his riveting discussion was the high-energy professor Porter who took her lead for her discussion from the conference theme, Owning Your Own Success. Porter stressed the importance of remaining relevant in an ever-changing and dynamic business world and revealed that the key was embracing lifelong learning.

Porter discussed her own successful career transition from working in banking and finance to becoming a corporate marketing leader and later professor. She elaborated on Duncan’s advice about differentiation to include the necessity to “have the courage to shift whatever it is that differentiates you and grow it because,” she said as she quoted a business axiom, “‛today’s differentiator is tomorrow’s common sense.’”

Porter gave several examples of companies pushing themselves to the edge of what they do best and suggested that great marketing leaders must do the same to have successful, long-term careers. She also stressed the importance of marketers to be able to link their marketing successes to overall business performance, which means being comfortable with numbers and metrics as well as communicating effectively with the C-suite.

She told students that the safest time to risk pushing to the edge of their knowledge was while still in school and gave advice to those in mid-career on how to do the same.

The discussions were followed by a question-and-answer session, during which many audience members participated.

– M. Yvonne Taylor

To see more images from this event, please visit our NBMBAA album on Facebook.