Successful alum returns to keynote Business Week activities

12:45:37 PM CDT - Friday, February 25, 2005

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

When Robert Blackwell, a 1966 psychology graduate of WSU, was hired straight out of college to be a systems engineer at IBM, he professes that he didn't know a thing about computers.

Now he owns the largest minority-owned management and information technology company in the Midwest with more than 260 professionals and $28 million in revenue.

Blackwell will talk about his experiences and philosophy about entrepreneurship as the keynote speaker for WSU's Business Week, March 7-11, which is sponsored by the W. Frank Barton School of Business. Blackwell's talk will be held from 7:15-8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, in 208 Hubbard Hall.

Blackwell Consulting Services is based in Chicago, and among its successes are a $5 million, three-year contract with a national insurance company and multiple long-term contracts with the city of Chicago. The company offers a range of IT services, from Web portal development to networking, messaging systems and workflow application work, and its clients include a number of Fortune 1000 companies and government institutions.

After joining IBM out of college, Blackwell did a 26-year stint with the company, and in his last position ran IBM's consulting services. He ventured out on his own in 1992, starting with four employees and $2.7 million in revenue.

Business Week, in its fifth year, provides numerous sessions about the business world. Professionals and alumni lead the sessions, which cover such topics as communication and writing skills, interviewing skills, leadership and even dining etiquette. The events are open to all students and the WSU community.

A complete schedule of events can be found at www.wichita.edu/business. Here are some of the sessions:

"Resisting the Abuse of Credit Cards," 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Monday, March 7, 203 Rhatigan Student Center. Bankruptcy judge Robert E. Nugent will talk about the dangers of using and abusing consumer credit.

"Success through Teamwork," 5:45-6:50 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, 215-217 RSC. Chris Lamb, who coached WSU's volleyball team to its best season ever, will talk about characteristics of a team player.

"How Volunteer Work Can Advance Your Career," 9:30-10:45 a.m. Wednesday, March 9, 107 Devlin Hall. Panelists Ron Holt and Kathy Sexton from Sedgwick County government, Debbie Kennedy of the Alumni Association and Sheryl Wolford who owns Automation Plus will talk about volunteering serving as a springboard into a career.

"The Balancing Act," 5:45-6:50 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, 203 RSC. Presenters Jena Lysen, vice president with Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, and Kimberly Ernzen, a director with Raytheon Aircraft, will talk about balancing family, school and work.

"Fresh and Frigid Franchising: Sheridan's Frozen Custard," 7:15-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, 107 Devlin Hall. Brooke Bauersfeld, the Wichita franchisee for Sheridan's Frozen Custard, will talk about entering the franchise world and its benefits and drawbacks.

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