Young Professionals Converge at Belk College for Leadership Development

Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Professionals from across the region gather for exclusive insight and networking

Now more than ever, young professionals need to ask themselves “What sets me apart as an employee and leader” to secure employment opportunities and advance their careers.  And many young professionals sought answers to that question at the recent Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Leadership Convergence in August.

The Belk College of Business was proud to partner with the Charlotte Chamber for a full day of learning and networking at the UNC Charlotte Center City campus. The Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals (CCYP) hosted its inaugural event, providing young professionals insight from a diverse gathering of executives, entrepreneurs and elected officials.  This gathering was designed to expand attendees’ leadership capability in their careers and communities. This event was a prime opportunity for exclusive interactions among professionals, including Belk College graduate students, on the topics that are important to the newest leaders of the business community. The two days were full of networking opportunities, personal testimonials, insightful stories, tips for success, professional development guidance and perspectives on making a difference in the community on a larger scale.   It is inspiring to see so many young professionals taking proactive steps, like attending this event, to make a larger impact on their organizations and in our community.


Dean Ott opened the morning session, welcoming attendees to Center City and introducing Paul Allen, the keynote speaker.  Paul shared his unique story as a global evangelist for individuals finding their own strengths, through his businesses StrengthsFinder or  His drivers of mission and impact evolved into a strong narrative for the audience, many of whom connected immediately to the message.

Afterward, attendees enjoyed a day of break-out sessions, a luncheon and networking designed to provide information and insight to the topics young professionals value.  A strong group of professionals led and participated in these discussions, many of whom are Belk College alumni.

In one of the most popular break-out sessions, hosted by the Belk College, several alumni led the conversation:  “What’s Your Leadership ID: Developing Your Professional Brand.”  The panel was made of young professionals, inlcuding:

  • Kapil Jagtiani ‘12 MBA, Senior Director, TIAA
    Kapil joined TIAA in 2013 and previously spending many years in the banking industry focusing on loss mitigation for mortgage and home equity, and marketing analytics.

  • Leticia Foster ‘12 MBA, Fulfillment Market Development Manager, Sealed Air
    After completing her MBA,  she made a professional transition from underwriting to marketing and began her new career at Lowe’s Headquarters in Mooresville.  In 2016, she became a marketing manager at Sealed Air and has been promoted to Strategic Fulfillment Market Manager, focusing on go-to market strategies for the strategic fulfillment solutions business unit primarily in North America but also in global regions.

  • Dave Stroud ‘14 MBA, Digital Business Innovations, Foodbuy, LLC
    Dave leads Digital Marketing at Foodbuy LLC, the procurement arm of Compass Group NA and the largest foodservice group purchasing organization in North America. Dave also served on the Belk College of Business alumni council as a committee chair.   

Amanda Bill ‘17, ‘19 MS Econ, Graduate Assistant for the Belk College of Business and a Human Resources intern at SCOR Global Life Reinsurance.  Amanda provided introductions for the panelists and the moderator, Solange Tricanowicz Solange, the Assistant Director for Employer Relations and Career and Professional Development for the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte.

Kapil, when asked for his best piece of advice, shared, “Don’t approach your job as a list of tasks, keeping your head down.  Approach your job as leading your organization, regardless of your position. Own the role of understanding the business goals, even those areas outside your own.  Adopt the mindset of a leader, embracing the holistic purpose of the organization.” The advice resonated with the audience, and set the tone of assertive leadership for the discussion.

The session uncovered various approaches to “professional identity,” creating an electric engagement on the panel, and an entertaining and educational forum for participants.


Laticia had a strong message of foundation:  Be your genuine self, be true to your identity and be yourself all the time.  While you will want to scale it down as you enter a new role, still keep your own self intact.  When you begin a new role, don’t go in overly aggressive; rather, be confident enough in yourself to be humble and listen and learn for the first few months.  Then allow yourself to more fully scale up your identity. Keep it real, just adjust the scale as appropriate.
Dave, alternatively, had a strong message of adaptability:   Adjust to your environment and those with whom you work. At work, I step up as a leader, taking on that role.  However, for example at home, I may relax to more casual tendencies and allow others to lead. The point is: rise to the occasion of meeting others where they are with regard to professional identity.  If they are naturally high energy and assertive, you may want to match that so a greater level of collaboration and connection can occur.

The energy and enthusiasm of the opposing views actual gave attendees alternate views from which to learn.  

A second break-out session centered on “Finding Your Passion and Purpose.”  

DeAndrea Salvador a 2013 Belk College graduate in Economics and Founder and CEO of Renewable Energy Transition Initiative (RETI) participated on the panel.  She shared her story of working toward one career path, only to discover that her passion and dedication to community led her in a new direction. She founded the organization RETI, which has transcended her life and allowed her to exponentially support others.

Still other young professionals attended the session, “Starting Up Your Side Hustle,” focusing on how to balance your side business with your full-time employment. 

Christopher Moxley, a 2003 Belk College graduate in International Business is Founder and Co-Owner of 704 Shop and at the same time a Privacy Compliance Associate at TIAA.  Chris advised young professionals interested in starting up a side hustle how to communicate your goals to your employer, balance your time and find resources in the Charlotte community.  


The Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals Leadership Convergence was an amazing inaugural event for both the Charlotte business community, attendees and Belk College.

The Belk College extends the warmest appreciation to all participants and is already planning toward next year’s event. Stay tuned!