Collaboration of MBA organizations results in successful conference
Posted: 03/14/2005
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More than 120 people attended the first business and leadership mini-conference hosted by The University of Texas-Pan American MBA Association (MBAA) in collaboration with the McAllen Chapter of the National Society for Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA).

Held at the UTPA Student Union Feb. 26, the conference, titled "Embracing Growth and Opportunities in the RGV: Connecting Current and Future Leaders," was well received by participants that included local business professionals, students and UTPA College of Business Administration faculty.

"I wish we had access to more quality conferences such as this here in the Rio Grande Valley," said David Martinez, a MBA student at UTPA, responding to a post-conference survey.

Pictured at the conference from left to right are keynote speaker Al Serrano, regional vice president, Wal-Mart; Imelda Leal, chapter executive vice president, NSHMBA; and Gilbert Gonzalez, chapter vice president for education, NSHMBA.
The day-long agenda featured distinguished MBA alumni and community business leaders who presented topics related to industry growth in various business sectors, new opportunities for business graduates and the challenges faced by local businesses in one of the fastest growing regions in the country.

"In addition to being highly informative, this event provided ample networking opportunities for business graduates who wish to find appropriate employment here in the Valley," said Jayshree Bhat, president of MBAA, who credited the event's high quality and success to the support of planning committee members and staff members of the UTPA Division of External Affairs.

Lourdes Servantes, president of NSHMBA, said her organization seeks future opportunities to link current students with successful business leaders. "The Rio Grande Valley is growing; the need for talented, educated professionals is tied with this growth. NSHMBA is committed to continuing its work with MBA students and looks forward to future collaborations," she said.

NSHMBA is a nonprofit organization that encourages career progression to the highest levels, providing direction and leadership to companies in recruiting and developing talented Hispanic business professionals. In line with its national goals, the chapter is focused on increasing the enrollment of Hispanics in undergraduate and graduate management programs.

Moderated by Octavio Saenz from Noticias 48 Univision, the conference featured keynote speaker Al Serrano, regional vice president of operations for Wal-Mart Corporation, who commended the organizers for such initiatives and reiterated the need for such ongoing dialogues between the University and the local business community.

In comments read by Solomon Torres, district director for Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), who was unable to attend, Hinojosa congratulated the MBAA and NSHMBA for bringing together future business leaders with important current business leaders in the community.

"Today's discussion about the future of business, economy and employment in the Rio Grande Valley is so critical. As a former businessman and a MBA graduate of UTPA, I know how important it is to be at the top of your game," Hinojosa's statement read.

Other presenters during the conference included Alonzo Cantu, owner of Cantu Construction; G.M. Adams, chief operating officer, Renaissance Hospital; Richard Vela, chief financial officer, La Joya ISD; Edna De Saro-Perez, vice president of business development, Lone Star Bank; Keith Patridge, executive vice president, McAllen Economic Development Corporation; and Dr. Cynthia Brown and Dr. Goykce Soydemir, faculty members of the UTPA College of Business Administration.

At the end of the day's activities, a door prize of a set of golf clubs donated by Academy Sporting Goods in McAllen was awarded to a Wal-Mart store manager attending the conference.

For more information, log on to NSHMBA at or MBAA at