By Victor Ochieng
Having a business and succeeding in the sports and entertainment industry is no mean feat. Having a dream is one thing, going the extra mile of realizing the dream is another. For African-Americans, the conditions are even more difficult. The challenges that come along the way are tumultuous and can leave one isolated.
As an entrepreneur, whether running a law firm, a sportswear business, or simply being a creative artist, you definitely need outlets that will help see your business progress. Of great importance is to have strong bonds with people and groups that help drive you towards your business goals.
“Having been able to obtain a job with a major law firm after graduating from school and seeing the legal profession at that level, I know the barriers and difficulties faced by Black lawyers and entrepreneurs in cracking into the upper echelons of their profession,” said Attorney Eric E Vickers.
Besides barriers faced by everyone else, several African-American professionals have the challenge of being the first in their families, meaning they lack mentors and models in their chosen career paths.
Elke Suber, a young African-American attorney, says he received enormous support from The Black Entertainment Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA). She’s grown to become Microsoft Corporation’s Assistant General Counsel of Worldwide Retail Stores, overseeing the global support for the tech company. Suber is the first ever female chairperson of BESLA.
“A mentor suggested that I attend the BESLA conference and I was really impressed with the digital media panel and acquired great relationships from the conference,” said Suber.
Since its foundation 36 years ago, BESLA has seen the challenges faced by Black professionals and has been working to bridge their success gap. BESLA was founded by a team of Black attorneys, who saw the need for a platform that would provide for continued learning and networking for African-American attorneys as well as other business professionals within the entertainment industry.
Suber, who fully understands the role BESLA plays, is passionately reaching out to professionals to inform them of BESLA as an organization and network that they can rely on as they work their way through the ladder of success.
“I think its very important to have support as a professional. The BESLA conference is a great opportunity to meet mentors and grow your business. We are excited to continue to expand our programming throughout additional major cities in the U.S so that we can touch more people and be the organization that provides professional development and network opportunities for people to build strong businesses and partnerships,” said Suber.
BESLA’s Mid-Year Conference kicked off on April 4, 2016, at Fordham University. The guest speaker at this year’s conference was Music Executive L.A. Reid. The conference’s theme this year was “Succeeding in the Entertainment and Sports Industries.” It presented several different panels dealing with a variety of topics, including digital media and tips on how to navigate one’s way up the corporate ladder.
Also speaking at this year’s conference is Lori Aiken, Sr. Vice President of Global Talent, Acquisition, & Learning at Sony Pictures Entertainment.