BDPA conference to spotlight change and innovation
Speakers, workshops, a chance to network and a lively career fair will highlight the event.
By Adriene Marshall
The National Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA, www.bdpa.org) will hold its 35th Annual Technology Conference from August 13 to 17. The event, which includes a wide variety of activities, will take place in Washington, DC at the Washington Hilton.
“Washington is a great conference location,” says Monique Berry, BDPA national president. “This is going to be one of our biggest conferences ever.”
The theme of the conference is “Diverse opportunities in the age of convergence,” which speaks to the changes taking place in the world of information technology. “Technology changes every day, and the focus is no longer just on computer programming,” says Berry. “With the emergence of social networking, cloud computing, and smart appliances, and the need for graphic interfaces everywhere, a variety of new career opportunities allow for greater creativity within the IT field.”
Berry points out that the BDPA conference is the only conference in the United States geared toward African Americans in information technology. “While the numbers are growing, there is still a disproportionately low percentage of African Americans in the science, technology, engineering and math fields,” Berry says. “This conference is an opportunity for African American IT professionals to meet people with similar cultural, educational and professional backgrounds. For college students, it’s a great starting point to develop relationships and learn about companies who seek to hire them.”
According to Berry, the conference is a networking opportunity for anyone thinking about changing careers, looking for new opportunities, or just trying to get feedback from their peers. “In addition, IT professionals who are interested in creating their own business can learn about best practices from other companies and corporations.”
Certification class and a stellar speaker roster
Conference director Pamela Sexton agrees that this annual event is an ideal occasion for engagement. “Some companies will conduct interviews on the spot, and students will have the ability to talk to corporations about internship opportunities,” Sexton notes.
ScrumMaster certification is being offered at the conference this year as well, she says. This two-day course will be taught by Arlen Bankston, who has led Agile and Lean deployments and managed process improvement projects for such clients as Capital One, T. Rowe Price, Freddie Mac and the Armed Forces Benefits Association. After they complete the course, participants can take the certification examination, which allows them to be registered as certified ScrumMasters and includes a two-year membership in the Scrum Alliance. “There is a cost associated with this activity but conference attendees are eligible for a discount,” Sexton says.
Sexton notes that many top speakers are scheduled this year. Among them are Roland Martin, nationally syndicated columnist and commentator for the TV One cable network; Sherri Littlejohn, senior vice president of networks services and operations at Wells Fargo; Fumbi Chima, a vice president at Walmart; and Dr Julianne Malveaux, renowned economist, author, liberal social and political commentator, and businessperson.
“The BDPA is committed to our national strategy, and organizational transformation is a key component,” Sexton says. “We strive to improve our conference each year. We invite everyone to attend this year and take advantage of our efforts.”
ITSMF quarterly symposium highlights
From August 15 to 17, the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) will hold its third-quarter symposium in parallel with the BDPA conference. “ITSMF is an organization of chief information officers and other senior-level executives in the technology industry,” says Viola Maxwell-Thompson, ITSMF executive director. “Our mission is to fill the pipeline with the next generation of African American IT executives.”
The simultaneous meetings are a tradition from ITSMF’s beginnings, explains Thompson. “The organization was founded in 1996 by eight CIOs who were attending the BDPA conference. They felt a forum was needed to foster continued professional development and create a platform for networking and collaborating with peers. They wanted to prepare individuals in the pipeline for continued career advancement to C-suite positions,” she continues. “Meeting during the BDPA conference is an opportunity for senior-level executives to engage with everyone from entry-level to mid-level management.”
The ITSMF symposium will kick off with a networking reception on Thursday evening, followed by two days of speaker presentations. The symposium’s theme is “Star Wars revisited: cybersecurity strategies in the age of digital warfare.” It will include a presentation by a senior-level executive from Lockheed Martin.
ITSMF members and guests can expect to explore the theme of reinvention: how American corporations, as well as governmental agencies coping with sequestration, are adapting to changes in today’s economy. “Senior executives from Fortune 500 companies will be on hand to talk about how their companies have reinvented themselves in order to be successful in this new age,” Thompson promises. ITSMF will also showcase innovation labs where member companies will demonstrate leading-edge technology solutions.
“We want BDPA attendees to have the opportunity to engage with senior-level executives so they can see the possibilities that lie ahead,” says Thompson. “ITSMF hopes to show that our members are leaders who are transforming this industry.
“We value our relationship with the BDPA and look forward to having another great event with them.”
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