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Brandon Jones

20 Years of Reaching Out, Building LGBTQ Talent in Business

by Brandon Jones Monday, January 8, 2018

Over 1800 MBA candidates and 90 national and multi-national companies gathered at the Seaport Hotel in Boston Harbor for this year's Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) conference. ROMBA, an organization focused on promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender participation in top tier MBA programs, uses this annual conference to match nascent business talent with potential employers and provide valuable programming to help address the unique business challenges of tomorrow. I was excited to attend this year’s conference as it was the 20thanniversary of the organization’s creation. While Anderson Cooper as the Keynote speaker would have been enough reason for nearly anyone to attend, there were several other reasons why ROMBA 2017 was an amazing experience.

The opportunity to network with other LGBT MBA candidates was the main draw for me and the conference did not disappoint.Meeting so many of my colleagues at different schools was a great way to learn about current industry trends as well as exchange ideas with fellow entrepreneurs. I attended sessions on what to expect in rotational programs as well as TED-style talks from people who have attended the conference in years’ past.

Of course, networking conferences like these are most important for the connections one can make in their chosen industry. I was able to meet with companies whose opportunities I pursued feverishly as well as those which were less familiar to me, all in an environment that was mostly free from pressure. The lunches provided an opportunity to hear from successful LGBT business pioneers like Dr. Martine Rothblatt, who launched a billion dollar company from research in artificial intelligence, while affirming our fellow first and second year students. Dinner provided more networking opportunities, as well as a hilarious performance by comedienne Margaret Cho. 

While the cost of attending conferences can be largely prohibitive, I am grateful to be in a program whose alumni provide partial financial support for meaningful experiences such as this. Attending ROMBA was an amazing and invaluable experience, one I look forward to repeating next year.

Reaching Out MBA is a 501(c)(3) organization that educates, inspires, and connects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) MBA students & professionals/alumni, and their related graduates at business schools around the world. Reaching Out MBA provides year round programming for LGBT students and professionals anchored by its annual ROMBA conference.