Point Scholars and Alumni Join Future LGBTQ Business Leaders for ROMBA Conference in New Orleans

Point Scholars & Alumni Attend 2013 ROMBA Conference

(Clockwise from Top Left): Scholars Eric Nakano and Adaobi Kanu, alumnus Jason Nichols, scholar Bryan Blaise, alumnus Brian Casebolt and scholar Mira Patel

Recently, I attended the Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) conference in New Orleans, Louisiana  along with fellow Point Scholars Byran Blaise, Adaobi Kanu and Eric Nakano and Point Alumni Brian Casebolt and Jason Nichols. The gathering brought together LGBTQ MBA students to “inspire, connect, and educate…and to build a network for future LGBT business leaders of tomorrow.” This year’s theme was “Building Visible Leaders, Connecting a Community,” and focused on “uniting our community and stimulating dialogue on LGBT issues in our careers and their impact on business, education, and society.”

Although there is a very supportive straight and cis-gender ally community at Wharton, LGBTQ students represent less than two percent of all students. That is why I relished the opportunity to go to ROMBA to meet other queer business students from across the country and world, including Russia, Mexico, and China, and reuniting with old friends who are applying business approaches to further social justice and activism in education, healthcare, and community organizing.

Despite the MBA focus, ROMBA was not your typical conservative corporate gathering. It featured a range of important activities from a women’s leadership forum and networking event, to learning sessions on transgender issues in the workplace and nonprofits and community engagement, to hands-on roundtables like the case competitions and start up boot camp. And of course at night all the attendees went out to explore NOLA’s fantastic food and nightlife options.

The career fair was a particularly helpful event. It provided a chance to speak directly to companies and organizations committed to workplace diversity and furthering LGBT rights who are actively seeking out MBA students. Since the recruiting excitement kicked off at Wharton in October, I was thrilled with the opportunity to connect with potential advocates and contacts in a more informal setting to explore various career paths. In addition, we also created a table to feature Point and had a blast speaking with potential applicants about our experience and tips for applying.

On the  Saturday of the conference, I participated in a town hall on international LGBT issues featuring Wesley Adams, the COO of All Out, Tim Lane who co-chairs of the Board of Directors of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Graeme Reid who directs the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch, and Brian Rolfes who is a partner at McKinsey and the Director of Global Recruiting. The discussion covered a wide range of important issues including U.S. government interventions when anti-LGBT laws go into effect and the role that the private sector can have in forwarding human rights on the ground, centered on the theme of empowering local activists to ensure they have the tools and support necessary to lead change in their nations.

The next Reaching Out LGBT MBA Conference will be held in San Francisco on October 2-4, 2014.  I hope you’ll join me and other Point Scholars in the Bay Area next year for this great event!

This post was written by Estée Lauder Point Scholar Mira Patel
Wells Fargo Point Scholar Mira Patel Mira Patel grew up in Massachusetts and is a proud graduate of Wellesley College. After working for Hillary Clinton in the Senate on defense and finance policy, Secretary Clinton asked Mira to join the State Department on the Policy Planning Staff where Mira advised her on gender and human rights issues. As an MBA student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Mira strives to be an ambassador between the public and private sectors, facilitating innovative partnerships that further human rights, economic development, and social justice internationally. Learn more about Mira.