National Black MBA Association’s Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) program
Accept the challenge, reap the rewards
Celina Colby | 9/7/2016, 11:46 a.m.
When Brittani Jones began her high school career at Boston Trinity Academy, she didn’t know what her future would hold. When she found that the school didn’t offer much in way of business education, she joined the National Black MBA Association’s Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) program to fill the gap.
“I am so grateful for LOT,” Jones says. “It was a great supplement, and through it I found my calling.”
This year the LOT program celebrates its 25th anniversary and has helped more than 8,000 students gain invaluable pre-college business experience. The program runs on a September-to-June cycle, following the school year. One Saturday a month, the students meet for a session covering relationship building, college preparation, community service and business knowledge. Any high school student may join, free of charge. Part of LOT’s mission is to make its opportunities accessible to students of all incomes. Sharhea Wade, executive director of LOT Boston, says there are about 50 students enrolled per session, and a core few reach higher by joining LOT’s special initiatives.
Jones took part in one of these initiatives, the LOT Business Case Competition. This is a national challenge in which teams from all over the country analyze a real company and present their findings. Jones’ team analyzed Nissan’s lease program to search for more productive ways to market and monetize the process. “Case competition has been the heart and soul of LOT for a long time,” says Wade. “It’s a full MBA level case, and they work tirelessly on it.”
Business Case Competition students dedicate every weekend from February to June preparing for the competition. But going above and beyond can make all the difference for LOT participants. “It’s really about commitment,” says Wade. “And with commitment, programs like these can give students a gateway to goals that seemed unattainable.”
On the web
Visit the National Black MBA program's website: http://www.nbmbaa.org/
The latest addition to the LOT program has a STEM focus. To further serve students with interests in engineering and technology, a handful of teens from around the country were selected for an educational trip to San Francisco. On the trip, student Laurent Toussaint of Boston was able to visit the offices of Facebook and other Silicon Valley hot spots, making connections and gaining exposure that he couldn’t find anywhere else.
In addition to teaching students skills for future careers, LOT gets them involved in their communities. In LOT’s integral community service component, students volunteer at a local organization one or two weekends a year. This past year students conducted a Cradles to Crayons collection drive. Wade stresses that LOT is for people of all interests, not just those looking for a technical or business career. The program is designed to grow students as thinkers, individuals and community leaders.
Last year the Boston chapter collaborated with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Mentors from NSBE presented a workshop on business careers in engineering and IT. They also provided several tickets to their annual conference, which was held in Boston in March. Seeing these opportunities bloom in their cities allows students to see the potential in their hometowns, no matter what circumstances they come from.
Jones still is involved in the LOT program from UMass Dartmouth, where she’s studying business management. She has taken on a mentorship role and also makes contributions to LOT’s marketing efforts. For younger students, she advises taking advantage of the opportunities provided and working hard at every task.
“LOT makes it easy for you to raise your hand,” says Jones. “All you have to do is accept the challenge.”