TN Tech’s College of Business Women’s Leadership Conference Nov. 16

Dr. Reatha Clark King, Leigh Lafever-Ayer and Robbie Samuels

By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor

COOKEVILLE – The Tennessee Tech College of Business will host its first Women’s Leadership Conference on Nov.16 featuring Reatha King, Leigh Lafever-Ayer and Robbie Samuels. The event will be held in the newly renovated Multipurpose Room in the Roaden University Center.

Dr. Reatha Clark King could have had a Hidden Figures story written about her.  After earning a Ph.D. in Chemistry in the 60’s, her invention of a coiled tube that allowed fuel to cool instead of exploding was a crucial advance in the space race. She served as President of Metropolitan State University before becoming a vice-president for General Mills overseeing the General Mills Foundation. She remains active on numerous boards and is an active, engaged voice for social change.  Dr. King’s session will be “Aiming to be Excellent – Excellence as a Virtue, Excellence as a Value.”

Robbie Samuels is a best-selling author, speaker, coach and podcast host that has been featured in Forbes and the Harvard Business Review. Samuels is an expert on networking.  His session will focus on “The Art of the Schmooze – Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking.”  He will provide tips and techniques to help introverts and extroverts learn how to work a room. This will be an interactive session where the attendees will be able to practice the new techniques they have learned.

“The networking session developed from a meeting with the business faculty,” said Cheryl Montgomery, COB development director. “They wanted to have a session dedicated to teaching networking skills. Our students and our young alumni want to hone their networking skills.”

“I think all of us need a refresher,” added Dr. Susan Wells. “I’m really excited about it. I’m excited to get his book. He has a really cool take on networking.”

Cookeville native, Leigh Lafever-Ayer, the 2018 Louis Johnson Outstanding Alumnus will present the keynote address. Lafever-Ayer is the AVP of human resources for Enterprise Holdings in the UK and Ireland, where she champions, advises and sponsors diversity initiatives at Enterprise.She was recently recognized by Financial Times as one of the Top 50 Champions of Women in Business for the second consecutive year. Lafever-Ayer’s keynote will be on “Finding Your Voice.”

Although it’s billed as a women’s leadership conference, men are encouraged to attend.

“Our students are excited about the conference,” Montgomery added. “I even had a male student come to me and say that he had looked at the list of speakers and asked if he could attend. We encourage anybody to come that is interested.”

The individual conference registration fee is $75 and will include breakfast, lunch, and a copy of Robbie Samuels bestselling book, “Bagels vs Croissants: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences.” Attire is business casual.

Pre-registration is recommended and tickets can be reserved here. The conference is scheduled for 8 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. Parking will be provided in designated areas with a dedicated shuttle to the Roaden University Center.

Donations for the COB Clothes Closet will be accepted at the conference.

This conference was the brainchild of Dr. Thomas Payne in honor of his mother.  He tasked Cheryl Montgomery fulfilling his vision.  This is the first year for the conference but planning for next year’s conference will begin the week following the conference. Anyone with suggestions for speakers should contact Cheryl Montgomery or Dr. Susan Wells.

Michelle Price is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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