Upon returning from a student business conference in his home country of Poland, Lukasz (Luke) Dobrzynski asked if he could organize a business conference on the European Union Enlargement process (Poland was one of the countries applying for membership) for the students at Northeastern Illinois University. He then took responsibility to do so on his own with some oversight from Dr. Durward Hofler.

Luke also developed his honors thesis on the basis of his role in the development of the 2002 conference .

2002 – EUROPA

The first conference, entitled Europa, was a one day event.

Attendance:  450

2003 - 2005


During this period, three different students  individually asked to organize and served as the student Conference Coordinator for 3 new conference.

Thus began the process of continuing and institutionalizing the conference concept. Had they not taken the initiative to ask, we likely would not have continued the conference.

Dr. Durward Hofler became the formal conference Faculty Advisor.

By the end of this period, the conference was becoming solidly institutionalized with strong faculty and administrative support, and with speakers from a variety of local, national and international organizations.

2003 - East Asia (E.A.I.B.C.)

At the end of the 2002 conference, Pui Tang, a student from Hong Kong, asked if she could organize a conference on East Asia – thus continuing the conference concept.  Without her request, there likely would not have been a second conference – much less the 12 we have already had.

This also set the pattern for focusing on different regions of the world each year – and – the basic conference name and acronym was developed:

  • IBC  – International Business Conference
  • Region + IBC (e.g.: E.A.I.B.C. – East Asia International Business Conference).

This second conference was held over a 48 hour period over 3 days.

Attendance:  1,005

2004 – Latin America (L.A.I.B.C.)

At the end of the 2003 conference, yet another student, Angel E. Monterroso, asked if he could organize a conference on Latin America

He also obtained a Latino musical group to perform at the conference.

Attendance:  1,262

2005 – South Asia (S.A.I.B.C.)

At the end of the 2004 conference, still another student, Nuzhat Sipwala, asked if she could organize a conference on South Asia. She also developed her honors thesis on the basis of hers role in the development of the 2006 conference

Attendance:  1,435


Student Involvement and Learning

From the beginning, the IBCs have been planned, organized, and administered by students.

For its first 4 years, the conference was led by a single student Conference Coordinator, with some involvement of other students, mostly during the conference itself.

In 2006, The Student Conference Coordinator formed a 3-person Planning Committee.

Since 2006, more and more students have become active in the conference.

Each year, students with prior conference experience become the key leaders of core executive group of 5 to 9 students planning for the conference.

An additional 20 to 50 student volunteers become involved during January and February and during the conference sessions. – and experience the learning that comes with being responsible for a major program or project.

Relatedly, the organizational structure for student involvement has changed and evolved each year to include a core executive group, as well as individuals and committees who take responsibility for such key areas as the budget, graphics design,  marketing,  floor management (assignment of responsibilities for each conference session), speaker management (including introducing speakers), conference refreshments, etc.

The College’s Book Per Semester program has become an integral part of the conference, with student panels making presentations and with two book authors as Conference Keynote Speakers (thanks to financial support from the Office of the President).

Linking with Other Conferences

In recent years, we have tried to partner with other conferences.

In 2010, the CEO of the World Trade Center Illinois (WTCI) was the IBC Keynote Speaker, and then WTCI  hosted its own international business conference at NEIU the day after our conference ended.

In 2011, NEIU’s Office of International Programs hosted a concurrent conference during the first day of our conference, and then provided a panel of four speakers from Poland for the evening session of our conference.

In 2013, John Robinson (our 2012 conference Keynote Speaker, and Chairman of the Blue Tech Alliance) approached the College of Business and Management about establishing a NEXUS conference on water related issues. Dr. Lawrence Berlin, Director of NEIU’s Office International Programs, accepted this challenge, and the NEXUS conference was held on the Wednesday and Thursday following the 2013 Latin America International Business Conference.

Developing Link with Source for Speakers

The conference has developed links with several organizations which have provided us with speakers – and increased awareness of the conference outside of the university. These include:

  • Illinois Trade Association of Greater Chicago
  • International Executive Resource Group, Chicago chapter.
  • U.S. Department of Commerce, Chicago

It can also be noted that in recent years, speakers have been asking us if they can speak at our conferences!

2006 – European Union (E.U.I.B.C.)

Student Conference Coordinator Rosario Cinquegrani Cappiello discovered that the European Union has funded the establishment of European Union Centers in the U.S. in various universities.

We were able to obtain speakers and funding from the E.U. centers at the University of Illinois and at the University of Wisconsin.

We were also able to obtain as a speaker Mr. Peter Berz, First Secretary of the European Union Delegation of the European Commission.

Attendance:  1,577

2007 – South Pacific (S.P.I.B.C.)

The organizations from which the conference speakers came illustrates the growing world-wide range of conference speakers, such as: 

  • Apple Computer
  • Austrade - Chicago and the U.S. Midwest
  • Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, LLC, Chicago
  • Consul General, Australian Consulate General, Chicago
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • New Zealand Consulate General, Chicago
  •  Pacific Island Development Center, East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Queensland University of Technology, Sydney Australia
  • U.S. Commercial Service of the American Consulate General in Sydney, Australia

Attendance:  1582

2008 – East Asia (E.A.I.B.C.)

A potential student leadership crisis emerged when the student Conference Coordinator (Erik Consuegra) took a job and had to resign in December 2007. Fortunately, by now the student leadership had increased to include a core Coordinating Committee and a Planning Committee of volunteer students who were able to step in as if nothing had happened.

Attendance:  1,461

2009 – Latin America (L.A.I.B.C.)

       FFor several weeks in late January and Early February 2009, the conference Faculty Advisor had to be absent. No problem!! The student Conference Coordinator (Chad Kodak) and the Conference Planning Committee were already fully in control and did not miss a beat        

Attendance:  1,448

2010 – Africa (A.I.B.C.)

Student Conference Coordinator Mauricio Lopez inaugurated a publicity program of posting announcements about the conference in social media by establishing a conference page in Facebook.

The conference Keynote Speaker (a book author), was so impressed with the conference and its student leadership that he donated his fee to be used for student scholarships.

Attendance:  2,021

2011 – East-Central Europe (E.C.E.I.B.C.)

The conference was designed to include portions of the European continent that had not been included in the East and South Asia conference    

Student Conference Coordinator Fernando Merchan took the initiative to meet with personnel in the university’s Institutional Development office to develop a conference fund raising program and protocol.

Initial groundwork was laid for establishing social media marketing across a variety of social media.

Attendance: 1,856

2012 – Asia Pacific (A.P.I.B.C.)

The conference was designed to include portions of the Asian continent that had not been included in the East and South Asia conference

With the assistance on NEIU personnel, Conference Coordinator Will Mares led the development of a video about the 2012 conference

Attendance: 1,726

2013 – Latin America (L.A.I.B.C.)

The student leadership expanded and solidified the use of social media in Facebook, LinkedIn, and You Tube.

They also created a web page for the IBC conferences (neiu.edu/~ibc.), which was operational for the 2013 conference and which will be expanded for future conferences to include historical and other information about the IBCs. (Note – the website is currently being revised and will have a different URL)

Unfortunately, weather caused NEIU to be closed on the second day of the conference. Both students and speakers were disappointed – and some of the speakers were asking if there was any other way they could come talk to our students.

Attendance: Incomplete due to weather.