International Business Symposium returns March 28-29

Delta State University’s College of Business and Aviation will host the 13th annual International Business Symposium on campus March 28-29. Events will kick off at 3 p.m. March 28 at the Baioni Conference Center in Broom Hall. The theme this year is “Dream Big, Achieve Bigger.”

The annual symposium is sponsored by David and Sherry Abney, Mississippi Delta natives who currently reside in Atlanta. David Abney, a 1976 graduate of DSU, began his career as a part-time United Parcel Service (UPS) package loader while in college. He now serves as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for UPS, the world’s largest package delivery company. Abney is the eleventh CEO in the 107-year-history of UPS.

“Sherry and I wanted to do something meaningful for the Delta. By bringing global leaders onto campus and sharing their experiences with students, I believe we’ll be able to expand Delta State students’ horizons in how they see and prepare for their futures,” Abney said in a previous Delta State interview.

Along with Abney, the schedule will feature four distinguished speakers, all Delta State graduates:

*Laird Hamberlin: Hamberlin returns to the symposium to share his expertise. He received his bachelor’s in business administration from Delta State before going on to become the vice president of sales and commercial for Terminix (a division of ServiceMaster). Prior to being an equity investor of ServiceMaster and taking the company public in June 2014, he worked for various conglomerates including UTC Climate, Controls and Security, where he served as president of the access controls division.
*Karen Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald is an independent consultant and Lexus achiever with Rodan+Fields, a premium skincare company, in which she leads a team of over 1,200 people who produced over $4.8 million in sales in 2017. She is a Greenville native and completed her degree at Delta State in 2007 in food and nutrition sciences. Fitzgerald began working with Rodan+Fields in 2011, and has since risen to the top two percent of the company.
*Rodney Francis: Francis is the director of human resources for the Nissan North America vehicle facility in Canton, Mississippi. A native of Conroe, Texas, Francis has been a resident of Mississippi for more than 20 years. He received his Bachelor of Science and MBA from Delta State, where he also lettered in basketball. He began his career in HR at Baxter Healthcare in Cleveland, and after years of progressive growth in the profession, he joined the Nissan HR team in 2014.
*Danny Lipe: Lipe has provided value-added strategic guidance, effective management and high-level finance solutions throughout his career in banking and finance. Lipe is a 1985 graduate of Delta State a bachelor’s in accounting. In 1997, he obtained his MBA from the University of Notre Dame. His career has included senior level positions in various industries including furniture retail, investment brokerage, banking and poultry. Originally from Greenville, Lipe resides in Miami, Florida.

The 2018 International Business Symposium is free and open to public. For more information, contact Zina Taran at 662-846-4190 or email

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