BBSA Alumni Newsletter

Spring 2017


From Dean Glenn Hubbard


Dear Columbia Community Members:

Since its inception in 1973, the Black Business Students Association has been a keystone in thousands of students’ Columbia Business School experience. From humble beginnings, the BBSA has transformed into one of the longest standing and most successful of our 91 clubs at the School; with members serving as mentors, recruiters, tutors, leaders, and friends both in and out of the classroom. More than 40 years ago, the club faced adversity head on, and I could not be more proud of all they have accomplished today, truly embodying the values we hope to instill in all our students: to think like an entrepreneur, to connect the dots, and to develop as leaders.

A hallmark of the BBSA is the capacity to effect real change through open dialogue, programming, and positive outreach beyond Columbia. The successful annual BBSA Conference has been a powerful reminder through the years of just how extensive and meaningful the BBSA’s impact is. This year is no different. With a focus on “Building the Black Community from the Boardroom” this year’s conference will host influential leaders across numerous industries, including Columbia Business School Board of Overseers and alumni Tracey Travis ’86, EVP and CFO of Estée Lauder, and Robert F. Smith ’94, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. I am pleased to call these global business leaders colleagues, and I am even more delighted that they call Columbia home. The BBSA has served as home for countless students over the years, and I am confident they will continue this legacy. I hope you attend this year’s conference, and I hope you remain active and engaged members of our community, leaving your mark on Columbia and the world around you just as the BBSA has done.

With regards,

Glenn Hubbard

Greetings from the BBSA Co-Presidents

Malcolm X once said that “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” As Co-presidents of BBSA for 2016-2017 our goal has been to prepare the members of BBSA for their future as leaders in our changing environment we are constantly faced with. As an organization, we have taken the necessary steps to vertically integrate ourselves with our Alumni Association and the school’s senior faculty. As we approach the end of our term as Co-Presidents and look at what we have accomplished as an organization it gives us tremendous confidence that BBSA is on a steady path for continued growth. Since May 2016, we have implemented new initiatives that focus on BBSA’s academic, career, financial success and long-term growth. Please see below for a look at what our team has done so far:

  • Leadership Team: Rebranded BBSA as an “organization” rather than a “club”. Developed robust bylaws to ensure that during the transition period the core of BBSA remains intact. Aligned BBSA programs and initiatives with its mission.

  • Academics: Implemented a more hands-on and proactive approach to offering academic support to our members. We started the academic support before 1st year students arrived on campus and we extended it to the 1st term of the 2nd semester.

  • Alumni: Created an Alumni Advisory Board that supports the current BBSA board. Developed a stronger bond with our alumni through alumni mixers, gala, and quarterly meetings with 4a leadership.

  • Careers: Started a new program called “Career Champions” that encourages 2nd years to mentor 1st years that are in same career field.

  • Conference: Expanded the vision for conference by shifting it to the spring semester to align it with enterprise recruiting, increase the number of attendees by 38% and created a conference sponsorship package that yield new sponsorships for BBSA.

  • Community: Proactively engaged the community during difficult times of unrest by targeted programming that addressed the imbalance of justice in our community.

  • Corporate Sponsorship: Engaged and leveraged various contacts to secure sponsorship funding throughout the year.

  • Finance: Developed a robust plan to ensure that BBSA has a plan to become financially independent over the next 5 years through a BBSA focused endowment.

  • Marketing: Revamped all BBSA’s branding to ensure that BBSA has a consistent, clean and professional image on all marketing/promotional material including the new BBSA website.

  • Membership: Expanded the BBSA experience by launching our new program called “Extended Family” which supports non-black BBSA members to be more involved in BBSA, and created a better experience for recently admitted students.

We sincerely thank our e-board for all the hard work they have put in and our alumni that has been there for us every step of the way this year. We have a couple months left so let’s finish strong and keep pushing BBSA to the next level. #ELEVATE


Brian K. Hinds '17 & Niara Phillips '17

From the African American Alumni Association President


Dear BBSA & 4a,

I’d like to first thank the BBSA for the opportunity to share a few words with you. They have demonstrated their desire to build a closer connection with the 4a community. We plan to make that happen. We congratulate the MBA and EMBA graduates of the class of 2017 and welcome them into our ranks.

As we begin the spring season, it is a time for renewal and increasing activity everywhere. This includes 4a. There will be more news from 4a on horizon. In the coming days, you will see a communication on for an All Years Reunion Brunch for 4a and BBSA members and families. This will be held during the CBS reunion weekend on Sunday, April 23rd.  

We are pleased to announce that Wendy Urquhart has reignited her efforts on raising funds for the 4a endowment. Wendy was the one initially lead this task more than 15 years ago

We are also please to share in the excitement and celebration as the school as honors two of our own at the Annual Dinner on May 1st.

  • Robert F. Smith ’94, Chairman and CEO, Vista Equity Partners: Distinguished Leadership in Business Award
  • Robert Reffkin ’03, Founder and CEO, Compass: Distinguished Early Achievement Award

Kudos and congratulations to them both. Event tickets are still available and can be purchased at

We are looking forward to building stronger bonds across the entire 4a/BBSA community and we look for your support and participation.


Joy Williams '01

The 35th Annual BBSA Conference

We look forward to reconnecting with you! Don't forget to get your tickets. Visit for more info.

Reflecting on BBSA Gala 2016

Thank you tremendously for your support of 2016 BBSA Annual Gala and for making the gala a hit. It united students, alumni, and friends of the Black Business Students Association to network and celebrate diversity. Corporate sponsors had the opportunity to interact with potential candidates from BBSA, both at the current student level and experienced professional level. The event as a whole celebrated diversity at Columbia Business School and recognized the accomplishments of BBSA alumni. This year’s theme was Honor. Salute. Connect.

Along with the tremendous fellowship, we achieved a few noteworthy milestones:

  • The paddle raise and silent auction raised over $10,000 to benefit the endowment that provides scholarships to minority students. 

  • We awarded well-deserved honorees for their commitment to BBSA and their achievements throughout their career, including the BBSA Distinguished Alumni Award to Milwood Hobbs Jr. and the  Emerging Leader Alumni Award to Kristina Hunt.

  • Dean Katherine W. Phillips provided a empowering and heartfelt speech on the growth and impact of BBSA on the Columbia Business School community.

  • 95% of the allotted alumni tickets were sold & 38 students attended the event.

  • BBSA was pleased to have 4 of our dedicated sponsors support the 2016 Alumni Gala including: American Express, Bain & Company, Goldman Sachs, and McKinsey & Company.

We will continue this tradition and hope that your are able to join the festivities and fellowship in years to come. Please click here to view all the photos.

Best regards,

Fitz Robertson '17

Meet BBSA's Alumni Advisory Board

This year, we created an Alumni Advisory Board with the goal of providing mentorship, support, and guidance on various BBSA initiatives. Beyond elevating our ongoing initiatives, this team has been critical in fostering closer connections between current students and the BBSA alumni community. Thank you to the advisory board for making tremendous inroads with us already this year.