The Opus College of Business was proud to sponsor the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s 2015 Diversity in Business Awards. We invited Evening MBA student Rashad Buckner to attend and share his impressions of the event and what it shows about diversity in the Twin Cities business community.

As you entered the event, you were immediately able to find lively conversations filled with smiles and engaging discussion. From the outset of the event everyone was able to partake in conversations amongst peers, friends and business leaders. I could tell this was going to be an electric event.

Before we sat down, I made an effort to talk to as many of the honorees as I could. I was able to make a few new friends of my own which I hope will lead towards a long term friendship. I was pleased to find that most if not all the honorees felt they not yet achieved their greatest potential.

The event started off with a great presentation from a St. Thomas MBA student, Amiri Brotherson. You could feel the energy in the room as he spoke about diversity in business and the importance of the night’s honorees. As he was speaking, I noticed lots of young diverse individuals wide eyed and ready to carve out their path as future business leaders.

You could tell the honorees were all truly honored and humbled by the experience. I also noticed the sense of hunger amongst them as their names and biographies were read—they all knew even greater achievements lie ahead.

As the honorees accepted their awards, I thought about my top business leaders to watch out for in the future.

First, I will be watching Amol Dixit, founder and owner of Hot Indian Foods. His successful debut at Target Field has many fans of the Twins asking for more. He is poised for future success.

I will watch Erica Fields, president and co-owner of Brooks Grain as well. During a time where transgendered people are still fighting many stigmas and injustices, she has built her company to compete with the giants in the industry. The crowd roared as she was introduced as providing grain for top flight liquor companies.

And finally, I can’t wait to see where Jamil Ford Sr. takes his company next. Most individuals would not be willing to invest in North Minneapolis. Jamil seized the opportunity and proved you can be successful serving that market. With his bravado and gusto, I have a feeling he is prime to take his company to the next level as the sky is the limit.

The diversity amongst the candidates was amazing as many if not all had a touching story that helped build them up to be successful business people in the community. I felt each honoree had a connection with their community that allowed them to become and remain successful.

After the presentations were over, most people stayed to network with the honorees. Many people commented on the inspiration the honorees created through their successes.

This event is meant to be an inspiring and uplifting occasion that provides everyone insight into how diversity of people and ideas can lead our community into the future. It met that objective and will create a drive for more diverse business leaders to emerge and create their own legacy within our communities.

Rashad Buckner ’15 M.B.A. is an operations manager at Medtronic and is studying strategic planning and consulting.

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