University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Black MBA Network Expands its Mentoring, Recruiting Reach

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Throughout 2014, the Pitt Black MBA Network (PBAN) will ramp up its efforts in three primary areas: mentoring programs for diversity students and recent alumni of the Katz School, the recruitment of high-quality candidates to its graduate programs, and, in partnership with Katz, fundraising for the PBAN student scholarship fund.

Established in 2010, PBAN is a global alumni network run by graduates of the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. Its members span three generations of Katz graduates and its leadership ranks are populated by individuals who are business leaders in their respective fields.

“PBAN wants to make sure we are engaging alumni by giving them opportunities to give back. As stated in our bylaws, our mission is to support the prominence of a Katz Graduate School of Business education. We have various membership types to encourage open membership to those in support of diversity and our mission,” says Tricina Cash (A&S ’89, EMBA ’09), PBAN president and board chairwoman. Those interested in becoming a member of PBAN should e-mail Cash, who is the president and CEO of the Pittsburgh professional services consulting firm the Osmosis Group LLC.

Elected in January and formally at the PBAN board meeting in April 2014, Cash succeeded founding president Gloster Current, Jr. (MBA ’72). In recognition of Current’s efforts in growing PBAN from a grassroots effort of handful of classmates from the Class of 1972 into an organization that now boasts more than 100 members, the Pitt Business Alumni Association bestowed the 2014 Distinguished Service Award upon Current. 

“Mr. Current continues to honor us with his service to PBAN as a board member dedicated to advising it in the capacity of its immediate past president,” Cash says.

Starting in fall 2014, PBAN will implement a formalized version of its mentorship program, which until now had been done on a sporadic, informal basis. Because of the high number of diversity alumni, students will have the opportunity to have one or multiple mentors from their field of study. The mentoring services will be available to current Katz MBA, Executive MBA, Master of Science in Accounting, and PhD students, as well as alumni who have graduated within the past five years.

“The structure is meant to provide a safe harbor for students to have candid conversations about the choices they are making in their careers and to receive guidance from the people who have been there,” Cash says.

PBAN board member Timothy Sanders (MBA ’87), president of Capital Lending and Mortgage Group in Baltimore, will lead the mentorship program. Incidental to the mentoring program, PBAN is actively seeking out partnerships with companies that are interested in becoming role models in supporting a diversified workforce. Several companies have already hosted PBAN board meetings.

Another major push for PBAN in 2014 is its student recruitment program, where the organization will work as a partner with the Katz Admissions Office in identifying and recruiting top-quality MBA students. The five primary target markets are Atlanta, Indianapolis, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C.

PBAN board member Nate Mitchell (MBA ’12), development manager with the Simon Property Group, is serving as the national recruitment initiative director.

This recruiting support is similar to the on-the-ground support PBAN offers the Katz School each year at the National Black MBA Association annual conference. At the September 2014 conference in Atlanta, PBAN will once again send a large contingent of supporters — perhaps its largest yet given the large concentration of diversity Katz alumni living in Atlanta — and they will help students by introducing them to their network of contacts and by providing feedback on students’ interview readiness.

Cash says another priority for PBAN going forward is to build up its scholarship fund, and to that end, the organization is working closely with Pitt’s Office of Institutional Advancement and the development staff at the Katz School. This past year, two diversity MBA students received a PBAN scholarship: Brian Burton, a Texas native, and Monique Manning, a Maryland native, both of whom will be interning with The Hershey Company this summer.

Heading into the 2014-2015 school year, PBAN is also considering renewing the practice of having its prominent members teach a guest lecture in the classroom, Cash says. For example, in 2011 PBAN alumni taught in marketing and international finance classes during Black History Month.

In a long-term project, PBAN plans to grow its membership ranks through its new Class Champions initiative. The goal is to identify a class champion for all 45 classes, going from 2015 all the way back to 1970. This class champion would be responsible for reaching out to the other diversity students in his or her graduating class and serving as the point of contact to keep them engaged in PBAN activities, particularly those during Homecoming Weekend. PBAN Board members F. Lydell Clark (MBA ‘93) of State Farm and Tracey Grace (MBA ‘93) of IBEX IT Business Experts have undertaken the objective of helping PBAN to attract more than 200 new members this year.

“In terms of representation, we have about 150 members,” Cash says. “We know that there were about 600 African American and international graduates of the Katz full-time MBA program. That doesn’t count the part-time or Executive MBA graduates.”

“One of exciting things about PBAN now is that we actually have representation of three generations on the board. That’s really exciting when you think about it,” Cash says.