The History of the Negotiation & Leadership Conference

The Negotiation & Leadership Conference was founded in 2008 by Andre Bisasor, the founding president of The Harvard Extension Service & Leadership Society (HESLS). Believing that negotiation capability is a key leadership skill, Andre formulated the event with a focus on both negotiation and leadership themes and had a record-breaking achievement with a turnout of over 240 people in the first year. Using his experience as a marketing management MBA, Andre (along with founding vice-president of HESLS, Natalie Anderson) also formulated the event as a multi-stage conference with event complexity and program innovation that included several distinguished speakers, multiple topics/panels and networking opportunities. There was also the branding of the event as one with first-class professional management, a creative marketing approach and solid execution.

The vision was to create an event that would:

  • Take an innovative and practical look at issues that are either under-studied or otherwise that are trends shaping the field of negotiations with discussions among leading scholars and practitioners from business, law, government and academia;
  • Foster an inter-university dimension that brings together those who are interested in negotiation, conflict resolution and leadership from Harvard University, and other Boston-area schools as well as the larger Cambridge and Boston community; and eventually the world
  • Develop a comprehensive vehicle that would break the ceiling of low turnout at events at Harvard’s (DCE) and stimulate interest at unprecedented levels.
  • Showcase Harvard DCE role as a leadership force within the Harvard community

In May of 2008, the new Negotiation & Leadership event broke all records in terms of any event in the entire history of Harvard DCE. The event received notable media attention at Harvard including coverage in the May 8 Issue of the Harvard University Gazette as well as in the June-July issue of the Harvard Extension Alumni Association e-newsletter, the Extension Chord.

In May of 2009, the event made history again with the over 300 students that attended the event, which was upgraded to a full-day conference and transformed into the “The Negotiation & Leadership Conference 2009″.

The program was developed to be more robust and expansive as we sought to further implement the vision. In addition, that year the Harvard Association for Law and Business (HALB) at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Business School Caribbean Business Club (HBS CBC) joined in on this event as one that had inter-school support. Other noteworthy characteristics include:

  • It was the first university-wide student-run conference on negotiation at Harvard University
  • It involved the first inter-faculty, interschool effort between organizations at the Harvard DCE, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Law School, consistent with the vision of the Provost Office for a “one-university” model
  • It was also the first full-day, full-scale conference at the Harvard DCE

In May of 2010, the event implemented the first-ever live stream component that allowed distance students and alumni all over the world to participate. That year, the Harvard Law Negotiators at Harvard Law School, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, and The Black Policy Conference at Harvard Kennedy School joined in on this event as one that has inter-school support. With 300 in attendance again that year, the event continued to be a major success and stand-bearer for excellence and leadership at Harvard DCE. The Negotiation & Leadership Conference presently is one of the most anticipated events, attracting significant interest among students, faculty and professionals alike. On Sunday June 20, 2010, Urban Update (WHDH NBC Channel 7) featured the Negotiation & Leadership Conference with a 15-minute round-table interview with 3 of the invited conference speakers and conference chair, Andre Bisasor. This is the first time in Harvard DCE history that suvh an event has been featured on a mainstream TV news show (Urban Update follows Meet The Press on Sundays on NBC Boston).