Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Minor League Baseball CEO and President Speaks During Distinguished Entrepreneurs Forum

Minor League Baseball’s (MLB) Chief Executive Officer and President Patrick O’Conner bridged the gap between the industry and Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Business and Industry (SBI) students. O’Conner was the guest speaker at the SBI’s Distinguished Entrepreneurs forum.

“This is our second trip to FAMU,” said O’Conner. “We were here a year ago. We thought it was important to reach out to HBCUs as a source for motivated, energized and talented young men and women of color specifically. Being in Florida and understanding FAMU’s tradition and reputation, we thought it was one of our must stop campuses.”

During the forum, students received insight on how imperative it is for the industry to incorporate savvy ready-to-work minority businessmen and women.

In December, O’Conner invited a group of FAMU students to the MLB’s winter meetings. FAMU students Jimarcus Bickers and Gavin Molden, who were both present at the forum, received numerous offers during the winter meetings.

“The forum today was very important for the sport of baseball and blacks,” said Molden, a fourth year business administration and marketing major and native of Birmingham, Ala. “For the longest we [African Americans] were excluded from the organization and the sport, but now with Mr. O’Conner’s initiatives we will be able to impact the sport and the world on a larger scale.”

As part of the MLB’s diversity initiative, MLB has identified five pillars in the industry that are susceptible to influence on a diversity front. Those areas are ownership, executive level management, mid- and entry-level management, staffing, fans and business-to-business.

“For us to influence and move the needle along this diversity issue, we need a more diverse workforce,” said O’Conner. “The young men and women at FAMU are in a position where they are job ready.”

Bickers received five offers with MLB.

“The forum went well,” said Bickers. “I received everything I expected from Mr. O’Conner. You can tell he is passionate about what he does and he loves what he does, which makes us all feel welcome.”

O’Conner shared with the students some advice that would help them excel.

“The biggest piece of advice I can give is to not narrow your scope, think broad-based,” said O’Conner. “There is much more to a career in sports than playing, coaching and selling tickets.”

O’Conner spent 29 years in professional baseball including the last 18 in the MLB office. He joined the Minor League staff in May 1993 as chief operating officer and added the title of vice president for administration in December 1995. He was elected the 11th president of MLB in December 2007.

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