BDPA expects hefty crowds in Philadelphia
“I think we’re going to pull in a lot of people from companies and universities. There’s been a lot of buzz already!” – Milt Haynes, a BDPA director
'We’re really looking forward to having our meeting in Philadelphia,” says Monique Berry, who is a project manager with the Vanguard Group (Valley Forge, PA) and BDPA’s national president elect and VP of business management. “Sixty percent of the U.S. population is within a twenty-four hour drive so we expect even more people than we had last year in Raleigh.”
BDPA director Milt Haynes echoes her enthusiasm. “Philly is so close to so many large metropolitan areas,” he says. “I think we’re going to pull in a lot of people from the 200-mile radius and more: companies and universities. There’s been a lot of buzz already.”
The thirty-second annual BDPA Technology Conference takes place July 28-31 at Philadelphia’s Marriott Downtown. This year it will highlight two emerging trends: entrepreneurism and government IT initiatives.
Phyllis A Coleman, adult workshop delivery manager, notes that “We’ve heard a lot of discussion that the economic recovery is going to be fueled by small businesses, so we’ve brought in a number of presenters talking on entrepreneurial topics. ‘Small business emergent: opportunities, risks and rewards’ will be a special panel this year.”
How government drives technology
“We’ve formed strategic partnerships with a number of U.S. government entities and it’s exciting to see how they work and how they drive technology in this country,” says Berry. Another special panel focuses on federal IT initiatives.
“The U.S. military is using technology that the general public won’t see for another ten years,” Berry explains. The status of the military as a cradle of IT invention will be underscored by Admiral Gary Roughead, guest of honor and keynote speaker. As Chief of Naval Ops, Roughead is the senior military officer at the Department of the Navy, and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he’s the principal naval advisor to the president and the Secretary of the Navy on the conduct of war.
The networking opportunity
Highlights of the conference are the opportunities to network with other IT pros and to interact with potential employers. “You get to meet the cream of the crop. That’s what keeps people coming back,” says Berry. And Haynes, who created the www.blacksgonegeek.org website, reveals that “Each job I’ve had has been with a company I met through BDPA.”
Berry points out that many employers offer continuing education credits to working professionals who attend some of the project management workshops that will be presented at the conference.
In 2003 Haynes created the Epsilon Awards program, recognizing companies that provide challenging and fulfilling IT career opportunities for African Americans. “When the award first started about five companies received it. In recent years there have been around ten, and this year we have named fourteen topnotch companies for blacks in IT,” he says.
Working with students
Supporting students is an essential part of the BDPA mission. Berry notes that “Last year we partnered with Oracle to give $50,000 in scholarships to high school students.” In addition, “Many local chapters give out scholarships all year long,” she says.
This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the IT Showcase, a two-day event where high school and college students present and demonstrate their research.
Dr Jesse Bemley founded the highly popular High School Computer Competition (HSCC) in 1986. This year twenty-five or more teams are expected to compete for scholarships and awards, Haynes reports.
Career fair and tech expo
As usual, the career fair spans two days: plenty of opportunity for top national and local employers to check out the concentration of talent at the conference. They contact, screen and even make offers to the highly qualified candidates.
A companion technology expo showcases the activities of companies and organizations.
Finally, there’s ITSMF
The third-quarter meeting of the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (www.itsmfonline.org) takes place along with the BDPA conference. The management forums and workshops are designed for execs who are interested in advancing IT folks as well as increasing the overall number of people of color in IT.
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