But being around other leaders can help hone even the most polished leadership skills.
Founded in 1975, NSBE is one of the largest student-run organizations in the nation with participation of more than 400 colleges. The NIU chapter is based in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.
The chapter’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”
NIU’s chapter dedicates itself to following this mission by creating intensive programs to stimulate, develop and retain students in the STEM fields. These programs, initiated both within and outside the university, serve to better the community and help members in academic studies and into professional industry.
The region is made of chapters from schools across the Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The purpose of this conference was for members to experience a few days of life-changing leadership training geared toward position operation, skill-building and personal development.
“Our theme was ‘Strategic Leadership: Inspiring a Unified Vision.’ This speaks to the direction we are moving as leaders and as a society,” said Solomon Mason, Regional Leadership Committee chairperson for the National Society of Black Engineers.
“Strategic thinking allows one to create plans to accomplish their goals; the use of this tool can create a framework to ensure feasibility and execution of those goals. Strategy will be a consistent theme throughout the upcoming year, as we focus on our directives: academic excellence, and the development of technical professionals,” Mason added.
“We really wanted to focus on personal development in the workplace – things like dressing appropriately, creating a brand and designing resumes; all the important things that people need to learn in order to be successful getting jobs.”
The goals of the conference were also intended to help the NSBE officers learn how to plan and execute the visions and direction sent from the national levels down to the regional levels down to the chapter levels to get a unified vision for the work in the organization in the future.
Members also had the opportunity to network with members of the regional and national boards to gain knowledge on leadership training, jobs and other important skills.
Participants also received training in such areas as NSBE structure, parliamentary procedures, board management, membership retention, fund solicitation, public relations and program implementation.
“It really comes down to not how many people you have but what you do with the people that we have,” Mason said. “We want to leave positive impacts on our school and community while achieving our professional goals.”
The organization also has the backing of Dean Promod Vohra, who functions as head adviser of NSBE.
“I have been associated with NSBE for the past 25 years and the society has evolved into bringing pride, success and competence for its members. NIU-NSBE chapter hosted other NSBE chapters on the NIU campus. It was a privilege to witness enormous amount of enthusiasm, intellect, collaboration, leadership potential and passion in one room,” Vohra said.
“My message was to be excellent engineers so their talent became the first consideration for others. Other message for all the black engineers was to recruit more minorities into the STEM pipeline and to be the best advocates for the engineering profession.”