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Best in the West - Leadership Conference for Emerging Business Leaders
Best in the West

What better way to learn about the business world than to experience it first hand? In April 2009, the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management hosted the first-ever annual Best in the West Leadership Conference for Emerging Business Leaders.

After a call for applications, five students from the UTSA College of Business were selected to participate and were reimbursed for their expenses. The participants were business students Kori Fisher, Jamaal Hollingsworth, Will Jones, Regina Malagamba and Taralah Russell.

Joining fellow business students from other universities such as Arizona State University, UT-El Paso, and UT-Arlington, students participated in a two-day conference providing them with networking opportunities as well as offering them an inside look at how businesses operate. The two-day event consisted of meeting with local Phoenix businesses as well as a day trip to Tucson, Arizona for a campus tour of the University of Arizona.

Beginning early in the morning, students met with local corporations such as Intel and Edward Jones. Students also Best in the Westvisited with the Director of Marketing and Event Manager of the local sports arena. The following day consisted of several guest speakers and concluded with student presentations that provided an opportunity for the students to demonstrate what they learned at the conference, while also providing them with a final networking opportunity.

Meeting with several local business professionals, the students received unique insights into the corporate world. John Schneider, the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission, discussed events management, while stadium managers and city planners discussed their roles in the City of Phoenix. The students also observed brokers in action on the trade floor of Edward Jones. Offering a glimpse into their approach to conducting business, the students traveled to Intel’s corporate offices in Chandler, Arizona.

Dividing the students into groups of three and assigning them a city to research, the conference concluded with a competition. The students had twenty minutes to create a slide and oral presentation that would attract recent graduates to pursue employment in their assigned cities. The students made their presentations before a panel of judges. Both Fisher’s and Hollingsworth’s group presentations won awards.

Jones felt that the “real life business communication skills” he learned and practiced were the most valuable aspect of the conference. As Jamaal Hollingsworth put it, not only was this a learning experience from the academic stand point, also just getting to travel to another city, meeting new friends, networking with others that you may come across later…it just overall benefits you as a student in the long run.”

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