NMSDC Kellogg Alumni Group members forge lifetime connections

By M.V. Greene

Terri Quinton and Roderick Rickman operate vastly different businesses but have much in common.


Each is an alum of the Advanced Management Executive Program (AMEP) at the J. L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois — an august group of minority business owners who have sharpened their management and entrepreneurial skills in the program since its founding in conjunction with the National Minority Development Council Inc. (NMSDC).


 AMEP is one of the leading elite executive education programs focused on minority business entrepreneurs that addresses topics such as executive leadership development, strategy execution, innovation, globalization, risk and change disruption and mergers and acquisitions.


 It was co-founded in 1996 by Harriet Michel, then NMSDC president, James H. “Jim” Lowry, senior advisor, Boston Consulting Group Inc., and and chairman and CEO of James H. Lowry & Associates Inc.


 Quinton is founder and CEO of Q2 Marketing Group, a Dallas, Texas-based agency that specializes in combining dynamic storytelling content and cross-channel solutions to grow client businesses. She said AMEP was created with the objective to grow competitive minority-owned companies with scale and capacity to compete for business in corporate supply chains. (See related article about James H. Lowry on Page 35).


Rickman is chairman and CEO of Rickman Enterprise Group, an environmental and industrial services management company in Detroit, Michigan.


Both companies are certified through NMSDC, and each owner has served the organization at the board leadership level. The two also do business with each other.


Perhaps the greatest thread tying Quinton and Rickman together is the Kellogg AMEP Alumni Network, where Quinton is the current chair and Rickman a former chair.


said more than 800 business owners have gone through AMEP executive education since the program was established. Sessions operate annually with a focus on helping owners drive growth in their companies. The network works like a lifelong business hub, a networking conduit for helping owners connect, stay in touch and support one another, she said.


“We are passionate about making sure people understand who the Kellogg alumni are,” she said. “The program is a very unique part of NMSDC because there are so many of us. We’re across all kinds of industries, are geographically and ethnically diverse, and do business with corporations and each other.”


Moving in a different direction

Quinton went through the program in 2005 and has served as alumni chair since 2014.The group conducts a networking and informational seminar for the alumni group and NMSDC MBEs each October at the NSMDC annual conference. 


She said the program helped her to solidify the type of business she ultimately would become. At the time in 2005, she said was running a print company, but said AMEP helped her realize that she needed to move into a different direction — as a marketer working with other companies to exploit digital processes and technology. She is also now a partner in Argent Edges, an edge computing technology company deploying interactive touchscreen kiosks.


“What the program did for me was kind of open my eyes to what it was I really wanted to do in business,” Quinton said. “It helped me position myself to move into a different direction and to allow me to view how marketing and technology could work together to build a business.”


Finding the root causes

Rickman went through the program in 2000 and served as chair starting in 2003 to Quinton’s tenure. He said he was most impressed with the curriculum, professors and cross-functional instruction.


“I am tremendously grateful for attending. It helped me immensely,” he said. “It gave me the ability to project and think strategically about how to grow the business. I was able to come back and deploy management skills to my team.”


Rickman noted another big takeaway for him was the awareness of identifying the root causes of business problems and business successes.


“For the problems, it really showed me how to develop corrective actions, implement them and follow up,” he said. “For the successes, it gave me the ability to duplicate those in the future and grow and develop.”


Rickman is wholeheartedly bullish in endorsing opportunities for business owners to leverage executive education. And having a formal alumni group like with AMEP creates greater opportunities for owners.


“It’s important because it is a network. You really can maximize that alumni group by staying in communication,” he said. “These are leaders and peers, and you are able to share best practices and lessons learned.”


As chairs, both Quinton and Rickman over the years have had a hand with NMSDC staff in selecting the 30-plus owners who come into the program each year. Quinton said she is looking forward to increasing the activities of the group, including establishing a website and publishing a directory of participants.


“Some of the people I went through Kellogg with and that are part of the alumni have been good advisers to each other over the years,” she said.” “We’ve helped each other out in terms of referrals and business and partnering. It is a very good network to connect through and just talk things out, which you don’t always get to do as an entrepreneur.


NMSDC is affiliated with other small business programs including Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business, Stanford University Graduate School of Business and University of Washington Foster School of Business. The AMEP program, however, is the only one created by NMSDC in collaboration with Northwestern specifically for minority business looking to take their business to the next level.


To learn more about Advanced Management Executive Program, visit nmsdc.org/programs/advanced-management-executive-program-amep.


To learn more about Q2 Marketing Group, visit q2marketinggroup.com.


To learn more about Rickman Enterprise Group, visit rickmanenterprise.com.

To view the article in MBN USA's digital magazine, click here


Terri Quinton Roderick Rickman Advanced Management Executive Program J. L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University Harriet Michel James H. “Jim” Lowry Q2 Marketing Group Kellogg AMEP Alumni Network Rickman Enterprise Group NMSDC National Minority Supplier Development Council

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