** Today’s post is provided by guest bloggers from Protiviti who attended the NABA Convention in Orlando, FL in June**

Last month, we attended the National Association of Black Accountants Convention in Orlando, Florida! The event is a five-day conference packed with information sessions, guest speakers and opportunities to recruit and network both internally and externally.  The conference is a great opportunity to connect with professionals in the accounting industry, sharpen individual skill sets and encourage professionals to ‘think outside of the box’ when working with teams and solving business problems.  This year’s theme was iVolution: Empower the Change Within. Since we couldn’t bring our entire audience, we thought we’d at least bring back the impactful  takeaways and share them with you!

(left to right) Teresa, Nicholas and Justine at the evening event during the NABA Convention

Justine, Manager, Internal Audit and Financial Advisory, Metro D.C.

Justine Brown

The first key takeaway that I have comes from our keynote speaker, Steven M.R. Covey, who opened the event. The former CEO and author spoke on the topic of “trust” and its impact on the effectiveness of trust.

Trust is the new currency of our economy. Trusting your supervisors and the staff on your teams is essential to a good and effective working environment.  As trust increases, both speed and cost decrease.  The opposite is also true — as trust decreases, both speed and cost increase.  While extending trust is risky, not doing so is a far greater risk.  As leaders, if you want to be trusted, you have to intentionally give trust.  This act is contagious.  Once you extend, you can also inspire trust.  There are three steps all leaders should start with to create trusting teams: (1) start with yourself, (2) declare your intent, and (3) lead by extending trust to others.

The next session I attended was a Women of NABA Network Executive Session: Black Women Ready to Lead: “Speaking Truth to Power. This session consisted of a diverse panel of accomplished women from different departments within Bank of America.  Some of the key takeaways were as follows:

  • There is no “perfect” way to behave. This is because perfection is based on interpretation.  However, over time and with experience, one gains confidence to “cover” less.  We always need to be conscious of our tone and other characteristics that can be perceived differently than we intend.
  • Start the conversation. Many times people just don’t understand what you are going though. Discussing sensitive topics can be misrepresented if discussed indirectly first.  Approach individuals directly to discuss an experience you had.  Remain professional and always think through the desired outcome to ensure that you deliver the correct message.
  • Sponsors and advocates are necessary to move the needle. They need to be deliberate and tactical and have to be willing to put their name on the line for you.  However, no one should be a bigger advocate for you than you are.
  • Being a minority in leadership is an opportunity. Minorities in leadership have a unique background and perspective, and they should view the role as an opportunity, as opposed to being a challenge.   Be sure to deliver, always.

Teresa, Associate Director, Internal Audit and Financial Advisory, Orlando

My first key takeaway comes from the From Financial Expert to Strategic Business Leader: Leader Evolution session.

teresa mallary.jpg

In this session, we spoke about the four leadership stages: Expertise, Credibility, Alignment and Execution, and Strategy. Expertise is the stage in which we develop our technical skills.  With the Credibility stage of leadership, we develop through relationship building.  In this stage, relationships come from commitment and delivery. Next, the Alignment and Execution stage focuses on the coaching and managing of both people AND environment. Lastly, in the Strategy stage, we take the experience and apply it to the business goal at hand.  Early in your career, you focus on developing  expertise and credibility. As your career progresses, you shift to creating an environment that fosters success and determining how you are going to meet the goals of the business.

The next takeaway that I wanted to note comes from the session entitled  Women of NABA Network Management Session: Assertiveness and the African American Woman. 

“Angry Black Woman”, “Aggressive”… This can be the narrative when an African American Woman is assertive. Why is that? “Assertive” is defined as the state of having a self-assured, strong, vigorous personality. However, life experiences, stereotypes, assumptions, and generalizations affect the perception of assertiveness.

Don’t let that stop you from being respected, having a seat at the table, and speaking when you have something to add. Consider the 3A’s of Assertiveness when navigating through life:

Agency – What am I being called to do? For what do I feel responsible?

Authenticity – What is the unique difference I can make here and now?

Agility – What kind of leadership is needed at this time?

Nicholas, Senior Manager, Technology Consulting, Atlanta


I attended many sessions at NABA and walked away with a variety of takeaways. I have highlighted a few key takeaways based on two sessions that I found to be impactful.

How to Build a Base of Personal Credibility and Trust

Be open and honest with yourself and others.

Your word is key — make actions follow.

Commit and perform.


Who You Are is Non-Negotiable

Be un-apologetically selfish.

Be honest with who you are and who you aren’t.

Connect greatness to your purpose.

Who are you without the title and degrees and accomplishments?

Risk mitigation: plan for your purpose.

Do your job well!

(left to right) Justine, Nicholas, and  HR representative Becky at the Protiviti table during the NABA Career Expo

We’re excited to have been able to attend the NABA convention this year and hope that our key takeaways will be useful in building your career and leadership skills. Until next year!

-Justine, Teresa, Nicholas

Leave a Reply