Insights From the 2015 Black Business Student Forum Conference

These insights were captured at the 27th annual Black Business Student Forum (BBSF) conference, held 6 February at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. The student-led BBSF brought approximately 150 undergraduate students from historically black colleges and universities to the Darden School for the conference, “Emerging Domestic Markets: Finding Growth in the U.S.”

Insights From the Conference Speakers:

  • “The real challenge in Virginia is how to catalyze the non-public business sector. We need to stimulate private sector growth.”
    — Maurice Jones, secretary of commerce and trade, Commonwealth of Virginia, after noting that the U.S. Defense Department is by far the commonwealth’s largest employer
  • “You’re only as good as your network and your interpersonal skills will take you. It’s important to reach out in early stages for advice.”
    — Jim Powers, CEO, HemoShear, on starting a business
  • “In a community of color, it’s important to pass on a tradition of education and entrepreneurship. It’s important to keep the business in the family. That’s how you build intergenerational equity.”
    — Vasco Bridges, executive director, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
  • “‘Be mentally flexible’ is part of the recipe for success. When you start, you have a vision for your company. Then you quickly find out it should be different. You need to know how to pivot.”
    — Tracey Greene, executive director, Charlottesville Business Innovation Council
  • “I always try not to have lunch alone. It’s amazing what you can learn.”
    — Rob Masri, CEO, Cardagin Networks, on the importance of networking
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m amazed at how many people we didn’t even know, who we’re willing to help.”
    — Bill Harvey (MBA ’77), president – packaging & industrial polymers, DuPont

For more about the 27th annual BBSF conference, read “U.Va. Darden Black Business Student Forum Conference Explores Paths to Growth in the U.S.