Business Conference sets records, inspires community connection

Featured Image: RIGHT: Attendees at the opening ceremony of the business conference fill the room. LEFT: Senior and MBC CEO Emily Moody presents the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of the conference on Nov. 13. McKenna Howenstine | Marlin Chronicle

With the end of the semester approaching, Virginia Wesleyan students and faculty can always expect the Marlin Business Conference to be in full swing. This fall’s conference occurred from Nov. 13-16. The conference is a requirement for the MBE 301: Principles of Management class.

Professor of Management, Business and Economics Dr. Frank Futyma has been teaching MBE 301 since Spring 2021, making this fall’s conference his sixth. Futyma’s role is to assist and guide students as they make decisions about how the conference will proceed, giving and teaching them the skills necessary to be successful. 

“The Marlin Business Conference is a Wesleyan tradition,” Futyma said. “It is events, such as the Marlin Business Conference, that help to differentiate VWU from other colleges and universities. Having a conference every semester gives MBE 301 students the opportunity to take part in a real-world project.”

For the class, students are assigned the project of fundraising for, planning out and successfully putting on the week-long conference. Comprising a variety of keynote speakers, debates, panel discussions, student competitions and workshops, the Marlin Business Conference provides opportunities for attendees to network and get exposed to what Futyma refers to as “new business and technology trends.”

With the purpose of teaching students the skills of business organization and management, a student Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief of Staff are chosen by the class. Since fundraising to make the conference financially possible is done entirely by the students, committees are also formed to get certain tasks done. 

Junior Joslyn Woodard, the Chief of Staff for this fall’s conference, commented on the fundraising done. 

“We worked extremely hard this year to fundraise for the conference,” Woodard said. “We actually broke records this year with our fundraising total due to the hard work. We did concessions for many sports games and ran very successful car washes as well as other things.” 

The theme for this year’s conference was “Creating Opportunities through Technical Innovation.” Senior Emily Moody, the CEO, explained the process behind how the class came up with this title by brainstorming in small groups before coming together to find threads between all their ideas. 

“Everything is so digital now, especially with things like ChatGPT and AI. We decided we wanted to focus on the technology of the business world because it’s so prevalent in today’s society,” Moody said. “The biggest purpose of the conference is to create opportunities and looking at the technical side of that is what we wanted to highlight.” 

A particular highlight for each conference is the opening ceremony with its featured keynote speaker. Dr. Angela Reddix was invited as this semester’s keynote speaker. Reddix is a community leader, philanthropist, three-times bestselling author and founder of two organizations: ARDX, a professional services management and consulting firm, and Envision Lead Grow, an entrepreneurship program for young girls. 

“At the beginning of the semester, we always have a meeting with President Miller to talk about the conference, and he had Dr. Reddix in mind,” Moody said.

Moody expressed her excitement in having the opportunity to hear from this prominent woman. 

“Dr. Reddix is very impressive. She’s worked really hard for what she’s done,” Moody said. “She is a leader and a fantastic, self-made entrepreneur.”

Another exciting part of this semester’s conference was Tuesday night’s event at The HIVE, Virginia Beach’s Business Resource Center in Town Center. Moody touched on the importance of involving the business community outside of Virginia Wesleyan through events like this. 

“Being able to go off-campus and involve other people in the community, not just our campus, is something that I think is really cool,” Moody said. 

The Marlin Business Conference not only “is helping students learn new skills, but also teaches them how to go out in the business world,” Moody said. Involving the business world via the HIVE is one such way it accomplishes just that. 

The Marlin Business Conference presents opportunities for those involved in business, both on and off campus. Students are given valuable opportunities to hear from and talk with many successful business people, and the possibility of securing a future job or internship is not unheard of.


By Phoebe Cox