President’s Pen

NEIU International Business Conference


“Opportunities are global.” That is the tagline used by Northeastern Illinois University’s (NEIU) International Business Conference (IBC). With business changing constantly and exchanges occurring between businesses all over the world, it is important for students to be aware of business practices in different countries. This is what the College of Business and Management (COBM) hopes to expose its students to as it prepares to host the 12th annual IBC. Previous conferences have focused on Africa, Asia Pacific and East Central Europe. With the USA exporting approximately $174.1 billion goods to Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile, and importing approximately $236 billion from Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia, one can see why Latin America was selected as the focus of this year’s conference.

Completely driven by students, IBC was started by Polish exchange student Lukasz Dobrzynski in 2002. The first conference had an attendance rate of 450. Previous speakers have come from the U. S. Department of Commerce, Federal Reserve Bank of India-Mumbai, Korean Institute of Finance, Abbott Laboratories, Apple Computer, United Parcel Services, Stanford University, University of Chicago and the Warsaw School of Economics – Poland. Last year’s IBC had an attendance rate of 1,726, almost four times the initial attendance rate.

Dr. Durward Hofler, Professor Emeritus, College of Business and Management, has been involved in the conference since its conception. He continues to stay on as Conference Faculty Advisor because he believes that it is a tremendous experiential learning experience for students. Through the years he has been able to witness concepts he taught in his Management classes, such as the importance of prioritizing, sequencing and timing, assignment and acceptance of responsibility by students as they plan the copious details of the conference. This sentiment is echoed by student Alex Ulyanov, a second year IBC volunteer. Asked what skills he has developed while working on IBC, Ulyanov speaks of learning how to manage difficult situations and organize work to fit into timelines.

In his third year volunteering with IBC, Hector Ochoa is this year’s Conference Coordinator. During his involvement with IBC, Ochoa’s leadership and networking skills have improved greatly. His determination and follow through led to Omar Duque, Secretary of the NEIU Board of Trustees, agreeing to moderate a panel of speakers on the topic of An Open Dialogue on Doing Business in Latin America.

This year’s IBC also moves forward technologically. Ulyanov has been creating a website dedicated for all things IBC, where students would be able access the schedule of events and read biographies of speakers. The IBC has also amped up their presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. These make it easier for NEIU students to be in the know and have direct contact with the IBC Executive Committee. Plans for this year’s IBC include live social media with students posting content on Facebook as it occurs in real-time.

Confirmed speakers include Ralph Biedermann, President of The MRB Group. He will be speaking about the North American Free Trade Agreement Corridor. Dr. Joseph Files, Executive Vice President, Operations of Summit Industries, LLC will be speaking about the challenges of doing business in Latin America, while Michael L. Hetzel, President, Northern Galaxy Corporation will be discussing manufacturing in Latin America. Francine McKenna, CPA, will be talking about the benefits multicultural and international experiences can bring to one’s career, specifically those in accounting and finance roles. With many more speakers lined up, IBC is working to put the finishing touches on what they hope will be a memorable conference for the NEIU community.

The conference will take place on the main campus March 4 in Recital Hall and March 5 in Alumni Hall. IBC is still seeking volunteers for the conference and encourages all students to gain first-hand knowledge about the ins and outs of planning a conference. If you are interested, please email [email protected].

IBC Executive Committee

Hector Ochoa

Naeem S. Dhiraj

Ana Duenas
Business Management

Gabriela Duran
Business Administration

Rachelle Garcia

Bianca Munoz
Business Management

Samira Savani

Alexander Ulyanov
Management/Computer Science

Diana Valdez

Dr. Durward Hofler
Professor Emeritus of Management
Conference Faculty Advisor