Partners produce Young Professionals of Color Conference


Keith Wyche. Courtesy Cascade Engineering

The Young Professionals of Color Conference this Wednesday will focus on the theme “Good is Not Enough: Excellence Should be Your Standard.”

Conference attendees will receive advice on “how young professionals of color can lay a foundation of excellence in their careers and entrepreneurial endeavors.”

Grand Rapids-based Cascade Engineering is hosting the conference in partnership with BL2END in Holland at the Herman Miller Greenhouse, at 10201 Adams St. A networking reception will be held afterward in Grand Rapids.

One hundred attendees are expected at the conference.

Keynote speaker

Leadership consultant and author Keith Wyche will give the keynote address.

Wyche has more than 30 years of experience with companies like Ameritech, AT&T, IBM, Pitney Bowes and SuperValu.

As president of Cub Foods, a division of SuperValu, Wyche led the division to double-digit sales growth in his first year. He later led the turnaround of SuperValu’s larger Acme Markets division.

His position with Cub Foods made him one of the highest-ranking African-American executives in the U.S.

Wyche is also a bestselling author. He has written two books, “Corner Office Rules: The 10 Realities of Executive Life” and “Good Is Not Enough: And Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals.”

He will focus his keynote address on “inspiring young professionals to be visible in their organizations and stay current in their profession and industry.”

Mercedes Barragan, president of the Grand Rapids-based nonprofit BL2END, said Wyche will talk about the “hidden rules” of corporate America and how to “navigate” them.

He will share anecdotes and insights from his and his colleagues' journeys up the corporate ladder to provide real-world strategies for career advancement.

Breakout sessions

Conference participants will also have the opportunity to participate in two of three 60-minute breakout sessions that will focus on entrepreneurship.

Session one, Blazing the Trail, will include young entrepreneurs of color sharing their journeys of how they started their successful businesses and organizations in Grand Rapids.

They will share their trials and triumphs as they navigated being an independent business owner in West Michigan.

Session two, The Art of Negotiation: Leveraging Yourself, Your Skills & Your Knowledge, will teach participants how to use their "untitled" talents to help them negotiate salaries and promotions in their careers.

Participants will also learn how to identify and capitalize on their latent talents and skills.

Session three, Career Paving: Creating and Understanding Your Career Strategy, will teach participants some of the key elements of building a successful career strategy.

Attendees will gain insight into the when, how and why of job hunting, hopping and career shifting.

Networking reception

A networking reception will be held following the conclusion of the conference in Grand Rapids’ Alger Heights neighborhood at The Old Goat, at 2434 Eastern Ave. SE.

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