“What is a Crack in the Door becomes a Door Wide Open:” Bradford Banquet Speaker Offers Words of Wisdom
Last week, the Black MBA Association and the Latin MBA Association hosted the 19th Annual Bradford Minority Awards Banquet, an event which celebrates excellence in the African American and Latin American communities at the University of Maryland. The event is a chance to celebrate student contributions to African American and Latin American communities and to recognize alumni involvement with the business school.
This year’s keynote speaker was Henry Hernandez, a former Vice President for SAIC. Mr. Hernandez’ speech was extremely relevant to the theme of this year’s event: “Leveraging Diversity in Your Personal Brand.” Trained as a Mechanical Engineer, Mr. Hernandez said that taking risks, having your had up to volunteer for the tough jobs, and leveraging past success into new opportunities is what allowed him to move fluidly into the CIA as an Intelligence Officer, and later into an MBA program and a consulting career. However, he recognizes that this is sometimes a difficult thing to do for ethnic and racial minorities because of cultural reasons for not wanting to stand out or to not wanting to grandstand and take credit for hard work.
His advice to differentiate ourselves to build our careers and our personal brands included:
- Figure out what’s important to your boss. Ask, “What keeps you up at night?” and then try to do something about it.
- Volunteer for the work no one else wants to do. People will remember you for it.
- Don’t burn bridges
- Keep your relationships warm to maintain the quality of your network; you never know when you will need to use it.
- Keep your eyes open to opportunities but don’t over think things – you can never fully know the implications of your actions until after you take them.
- Play up your successes to show what you can accomplish.
Mr. Hernandez is one of the original founding members of the National Soicety of Hispanic MBAs. Mr. Hernandez later achieved an MBA and served as a strategic consultant for private and government clients.
The Banquet is named after Prof. William D. Bradford, who initiated the annual banquet. While at the Smith School, Prof. Bradford served as a Professor Finance, Finance Department Chair, Associate Dean, and Acting Dean.