Representing at the Tulane Business Forum

Hello! My name is Miles Garriott, and I am a third-year PMBA student at the Freeman School. While most of a PMBA’s time is spent working full-time and studying for classes, there are also plenty of opportunities to participate in the events that make the business school at Tulane a truly unique and rewarding experience.

I recently had the privilege of attending the 34th annual Tulane Business Forum as a student representative for the PMBA program. For those unfamiliar with the forum, the Tulane Business Forum is an annual event hosted by the Freeman School that presents speakers who are major figures in the New Orleans business community. The event is also sponsored by many of the largest businesses in the New Orleans region. Companies sponsoring this year’s forum included IBERIABANK, Capital One Bank, Pan-American Life Insurance, the Port of New Orleans, Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas, Tidewater, Inc., and the Trumpet Group. The theme for this year’s Tulane Business Forum was Home Grown: Leveraging the Louisiana Business Experience on a National Scale.

The forum’s keynote speaker was Daryl Byrd, president and CEO of IBERIABANK Corporation. Headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana, IBERIABANK was largely unscathed by the financial crisis that decimated the loan portfolios of many other financial institutions. The bank has since leveraged the strength of its assets to rapidly expand across the Gulf South and into states such as Arkansas and Tennessee. Mr. Byrd gave a wonderful presentation that highlighted his thoughts on the current banking environment, the evolving regulations requirements for banks, and the opportunities that IBERIABANK has identified for the future. For anyone who works in banking or who has aspirations to work in banking, Mr. Byrd’s commentary was an invaluable source of information on the current hurdles and opportunities facing the banking industry today.

Another highlight of this year’s Tulane Business Forum was a panel discussion with Darryl Berger, chairman of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, Tod Chambers, general manager of The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, and Gregory Rusovich, chairman of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. The panel discussion centered on the opportunities and challenges facing the New Orleans economy today. I particularly enjoyed each panelist’s analysis of specific actions the city could take to attract more businesses to the region. Some of the issues raised during the panel discussion even had me brainstorming about possible projects that could be spearheaded by the Young Leadership Council (YLC), a young professionals organization I participate in that is active in various improvement and philanthropic endeavors throughout New Orleans.

The final event of the forum was a luncheon and presentation led by luncheon keynote speaker José Suquet, chairman, president & CEO of Pan-American Life Insurance Group. Headquartered in New Orleans, Pan-American Life has been somewhat of a secret success story for the city. Recently, Pan-American has leveraged its geographic (and cultural) location in New Orleans to become one of the leading providers of life insurance to Latin America and to Hispanic expatriates living in the United States. As with many of the forum’s previous speakers, Mr. Suquet was quick to praise the city of New Orleans for being vital to Pan-American’s recent successes.

In addition to an incredible list of speakers each year, the Tulane Business Forum is a great place for students and alumni of the business school to network with one another. The forum brings together attendees from a large number of the major businesses in New Orleans, many of whom have connections to Tulane. Since I began the PMBA program in 2011, the Tulane network is one aspect of the program that cannot be overemphasized. The Tulane community is fantastic and I am constantly amazed by the eagerness and generosity of the Tulane alumni base to assist current students with their goals and career aspirations.

Though the main purpose of the forum each year is to provide valuable insight on the state of business in New Orleans, this year’s Tulane Business Forum further supported the optimism in New Orleans that many of us at the Freeman School feel. Like many cities in the U.S., New Orleans is not without its challenges; but it is events like the Tulane Business Forum that make you realize just how great New Orleans is as a city for doing business. Where else can you take a streetcar to work or hatch out a business plan over a bowl of turtle soup? As one of the major anchors in the region, Tulane continues to support the economic advancement of the Gulf South through events like this past Friday’s forum and I am thankful to have been a participant this year. I look forward to attending many more forums in the future.

Roll wave!