One of the most common questions that I receive is, “How did you conceive the idea of starting something like this?” So I thought I’d share a little about how this all began.
About seven years ago, I heard about the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) and National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) conferences. Since I was a diversity practitioner at the time, I decided to go check it out. First, I went to the NSHMBA conference in Houston. I didn’t know what to expect, but when I got there, I was so inspired and challenged by what I saw. The event was massive. There were around 8,000 attendees that year and all of the downtown hotels were filled with the conference attendees. Besides the large number of attendees, there were so many Hispanic business leaders and also huge number of American companies recruiting Hispanic MBA students.
I was challenged by seeing so many Asian students there. In fact, out of 8,000 attendees, 4,000 of them were Asian students. That meant half of the total attendees were Asians at a HISPANIC event! I spent a lot of time asking them why they were there, and they all said, “Well… we have to go somewhere and we (Asians) don’t have events like this.” Being aware that they are so many Asians at most of the MBA schools, I had to ask myself, “How come we don’t have one?”
After coming back from the conference, I discussed with many people why we don’t have a such a event when there is such a huge need. No one seemed to have a good idea why this was so. Seeing so many Asian students at Hispanic and Black MBA conferences - and I could sense that many of them didn’t feel completely comfortable being at the event that wasn’t designed for them - I had to do something, and quickly.
Using my experience and contacts from organizing the Asian Diversity Career Expo for many years, I spent a year designing, planning, and executing our 1st Annual Asian MBA Leadership Conference & Career Expo in New York City in 2009. It was an instant success! When I made the announcement to the companies that I would be organizing this conference, instead of asking what this event was about, their response was, “What took you so long?” or “It’s about time!” Over 90 companies and 3,000 attendees came to the first year’s conference. Ever since, the conference has grown to be the largest Asian professional event in the U.S.
Up until now, our website has been a traditional and static website. I’ve decided to completely re-launch the website as a professional online community because:
- The target audience is highly tech-savvy and have a huge need for networking
- Employers and recruiters have been asking me how I can help them engage the Asian MBA community throughout the year since their talent needs are year-round
- Having a robust interactive online community will enable me to start many more new projects to help MBA students and alumni with internships, full time jobs, and localized networking
The vision is to build the largest global online/offline community for MBAs to connect talent with companies and help everyone to get connected as much as possible, since we all know how important that is.
There you have it. This is how it all began.