Visionary Marketing Group Recognizes Diversity And Empowers Business Professionals At Its 11th Minority Business Summit

LaRian L. Finney, president and CEO of Visionary Marketing Group, Inc., said it is important that people on the frontline to get recognized but also hold them accountable for what they need to do. Photo Credit: Olivier Rousset. Report and interviews by Ibrahim Dabo.

LaRian L. Finney, president and CEO of Visionary Marketing Group, Inc., said it is important for people on the frontlines to get recognized, and also hold them accountable for what they need to do. Photo Credit: Olivier Rousset. Report, Audio, video and interviews by Ibrahim Dabo.

Visionary Marketing Group (VMG), recognized as a leader in marketing, branding, and event management in the area of diversity and inclusion, hosted the 11th Minority Business Summit at the Baltimore Hilton hotel between Feb. 18-19, 2010, featuring some of the big names in the private and government sectors.

The theme for the event was “How to Prosper in the New Economy”.

Dr. Randal Pinkett gave the keynote address with a subtitle "combining old school solidarity with new school sophistication."

Dr. Randal Pinkett gave the keynote address with a subtitle "combining old school solidarity with new school sophistication." Photo Credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

A Diversity Trailblazer Awards and Power Reception set the stage for a memorable Thursday night.

Dr. Randal Pinkett, founder and CEO of BCT Partners—also, 2005 winner of American reality television show, The Apprentice—gave an energetic keynote address.

Pinkett’s keynote titled, “Finding strength in numbers and reaching a scale” had a subtitle: “Combining old school solidarity with new school sophistication.”

He said there are two trends—one in the marketplace and the other in the broader society—that undermine the ability of minority businesses to thrive, the recession being one of the trends. He said in the marketplace, he sees the trend of consolidation.

“We are in the midst of an era of consolidation, an era when large corporations are getting larger, but certainly, as you have seen in the recession, they are claiming bankruptcy, being merged and acquired, [and] creating real consolidation within their industries,” Pinkett, who holds five degrees said, citing Enron, General Motors, and Trump Entertainment Resorts (his former employer) as companies that have all recently filed for bankruptcy.

Pinkett said today, more than ever, size matters, adding that we are in an age where large companies are getting larger, thus making it difficult for smaller businesses to compete.

“As a result, the ability to grow and rescale is a paramount importance in today’s economy,” Pinkett said.

L-R; LaRian Finney and Herbert C. Buchanan (senior vice president and cheif operation officer, University of Maryland Medical Center). Mr. Buchanan told Ib's Blog that the award acknowledges the efforts his organization has made to develop closer ties with the minority business community. Photo Credit: Olivier Rousset.

L-R; LaRian Finney & Herbert C. Buchanan(senior vice president and cheif operation officer, University of Maryland Medical Center). Mr. Buchanan said the award acknowledges the efforts his organization has made to develop closer ties with the minority business community. Photo Credit: Olivier Rousset.

Amongst the Diversity Trailblazer Award Winners were the University of Maryland Medical System and University of Baltimore, falling under the category of Healthcare and College/University, respectively.

Herbert C. Buchanan, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the University of Maryland Medical Center, told Ib’s Blog in an exclusive interview: “The award and the recognition by VMG represents an acknowledgement of the effort [University of Maryland Medical System] UMMS and [University  of Maryland Medical Center] UMMC has made to develop closer and more productive relationships with the minority business community and to take meaningful steps toward significantly increasing the amount of business we do with that community.”

Mr. Buchanan added that “the organization’s award reinforces the importance and benefits of our business diversity strategies.”

Darlene Smith, dean of the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business. Photo Credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

Darlene Smith, dean of the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, said the college is committed to enterpreneurship. Photo Credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

In her acceptance speech, Darlene Smith, dean of the University of Baltimore’s Robert G. Merrick School of Business, said her institution provides mentoring and coaching, adding that the college has a very strong entrepreneurship center, and as university sponsors of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Inc. (NFTE), the award could not have been more perfect and rewarding.

“In the Merrick School of Business, we are spending a lot of our time, and our talent, and energy focusing on entrepreneurship. When you look at the local community, the regional economy, and the national economy, it is driven by small and medium businesses,” Smith said.

W. Maurince Bridges won the Diversity Champion Award.

W. Maurice Bridges, director of supplier diversity at BGE, won the Diversity Champion Award. "We'd like to create some of the economic development opportunities for our customer base," Bridges said. Photo Credit: Olivier Rousset.

After receiving the Diversity Champion Award, W. Maurice Bridges, director of Supplier Diversity at Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) said his organization is going through a transformation, and part of that transformation is the dissatisfaction at the amount of contracts being awarded to minority women and Service-Disabled Veterans.

Bridges said as a result of that, about eight months ago, BGE president Kenneth W. DeFontes renewed a commitment with the Public Service Commission.

“What that means is that 25 percent of all the goods and services, ultimately, we’d like to see awarded to people of color,” Bridges said, adding that as part of their transformation, about three months ago, BGE was awarded a $200 million grant from the Federal Government for smart grid.

LaRian L. Finney, President and CEO of Visionary Marketing Group, Inc., told Ib’s Blog in an exclusive interview that a lot more lies ahead but it is important to recognize those who are making a difference.

“It’s really just a start and we think it is important that folks who are on the frontline get recognized. But also, we continue to hold them accountable for what they need to do and we are just very thankful to have folks like Randal Pinkett come down and support [us],” Finney said.

A number of workshops were held at the summit, including a panel session that featured Michael Eric Dyson (professor, author and commentator), Earl G. Graves, Jr. (publisher, Black Enterprise Magazine), Patrick Turner (Turner Development), Daniel R. Meachum, Esq. (Daniel R. Meachum & Associates) and moderator Jeff Johnson (Black Entertainment Television and CEO of Jeff’s Nation, LLC.).

Finney said the goal is to have participants gain and walk away with invaluable information.

L-R: Ibrahim Dabo and LaRian L. Finney, president and CEO of Visionary Marketing Group.

L-R: Ibrahim Dabo chats with LaRian L. Finney, president and CEO of Visionary Marketing Group. Finney said next year's Minority Business Summit will be held in Washington, D.C.

“At the end of the day, I hope that folks who participate can walk away with tools and resources that they can take back to their companies and become better entrepreneurs, and get some better inspiration, knowledge, and resources to help them be better business owners,” Finney said.

The complete listings of the Diversity Trailblazer Award winners are from the following categories: banking (M&T Bank), construction (Whiting Turner), retail (Verizon Wireless), restaurants (Miss Shirley’s), media (Afro American Newspapers), college and university (University of Baltimore), Healthcare (University of Maryland Medical System), Government Agencies (Maryland Transit Administration), Hotel & Hospitality (Hyatt Hotel), Law (Saul Ewing, LLP), Suppliers (McCormick & Co.) and Diversity Champion (W. Maurice Bridges – BGE).

Audio:
| Click here to listen to Mr. Bridges’ comments |

Click on video below for Dr. Pinkett’s keynote:

Click on album below for event photos:

11th Minority Business Summit Powered By Visionary Marketing Group (VMG), Inc.

UPCOMING:

+ Report on Day II of Minority Business Summit
+ Video of Cathy Hughes
(founder of Radio-One, Inc.) keynote

Also See:
· About Ibrahim | About Ib’s Blog | Testimonials | Ib’s Blog Home

About Ib Dabo

Ib Dabo, founder and executive editor of Ib Talk Online, is a writer, journalist, photographer, and communications and IT leader whose mission is to inspire and work with people to make a difference in our world. Visit his official website - www.IbDabo.com - to learn more. Follow @IbDabo on Twitter and also @IbTalkOnline on Twitter.