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Developing the next generation of leaders

Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2022

"Joe Murphy"Close to 1,000 students from across the state are preparing to meet next week in Des Moines for two days of innovative business workshops and professional networking opportunities as part of the 2022 United Fall Leadership Conference. The event, scheduled for Nov. 13-14, brings together student members, instructors and advisors from Iowa’s three business-focused career and technical student organizationsBusiness Professionals of America (BPA), DECA and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) – to learn more about leadership in business.

More than just clubs or extracurricular activities, career and technical student organizations, such as BPA, DECA and FBLA, are integral to high-performing career and technical education (CTE) programs. They enhance classroom learning through authentic real-world experiences and provide opportunities for students to network with their peers and business professionals.

Joe Murphy, executive director of the Iowa Business Council, is moderating two business panel sessions at the conference. This organization, comprised of 20 chief executive officers and other top executives from prominent businesses across the state, is working to ensure that Iowa has a skilled and career-ready workforce for years to come.

The Iowa Department of Education recently met with Murphy to gather his thoughts on the upcoming leadership conference and why it’s important for the business community to engage Iowa students. 

The United Fall Leadership Conference only convenes every four years. Why did the Iowa Business Council want to participate in this year’s event?
It is important for the business community to engage with next generation leaders, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. We are excited to engage with a diverse set of students and share the amazing professional opportunities for them in our state.

During the conference, you are moderating a panel titled “Building Your Leadership Potential.” Tell us your philosophy on how students can increase their leadership abilities.
A great leader takes in a great deal of information and then acts in the best interest of their organization or team in the long term. Having a long-term perspective will result in more thoughtful deliberation as one approaches a decision. Thinking through various scenarios and how they will impact the organization is key to a successful outcome.

A second conference panel will focus on investing in one’s community and looking at local opportunities. Why is this an important topic for students?
Individuals need to take ownership in the community they live in. Fostering a sense of community pride will enhance business activity, create inclusive environments, and allow for future growth opportunities for everyone.

In your opinion, why are career and technical student organizations like BPA, DECA and FBLA important for developing skills not only for future business professionals but Iowa’s workforce overall?
The tools and skills students will acquire through these programs will put them at a competitive advantage as they enter the workforce in the coming years. Learning about leadership, responsibility and effective business strategies will enable students to contribute right away, thereby increasing Iowa’s overall competitiveness.

According to your organization’s website, Iowa Business Council members employed more than 190,000 Iowans last year. What advice would you give to students who are looking at career pathways in business? What key professional skills will help them find success?
Be open to new ideas and engage in work-based learning opportunities at your schools. Learn what you enjoy doing and seek out professional opportunities that will allow you to pursue those endeavors. Be open to opportunities in our state as well! There are so many opportunities for advancement and so many career fields in Iowa that one does not need to leave the state to find something they are passionate about. Iowa is the place where you can live the life you’ve always dreamed of living.

Leadership opportunities, like the 2022 United Fall Leadership Conference, align with Iowa’s efforts to provide students across the state with access to high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs that integrate technical and academic skills with work-based learning experiences to better prepare them to succeed in college and careers. Find more information about work-based learning on the work-based learning webpage or contact the Iowa Department of Education’s work-based learning consultant, Kristy Volesky, at