by Araceli Esparza
As a guest to his cousin, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, Dr. Ahmed Ispahani had the opportunity to attend the annual Bakersfield Business Conference in Bakersfield, Calif., Saturday. The conference, themed “The World Comes to Bakersfield,” featured various world leaders and was sponsored by the Borton, Petrini & Conron law firm.
Dr. Ispahani, professor of economics and business administration at the University of La Verne, said there was “so much enthusiasm and a concentration of energy” encompassing the 12,000 plus-member crowd, it was one of the “most productive and happy experiences ever … to meet all of these people and shake their hands.” Because his cousin was one of the featured speakers, Dr. Ispahani sat in a more casual and informal setting with other guest speakers.
“I’ve seen all these people in the news, on TV; here I get to sit with them,” Dr. Ispahani said. “I get to eat with them, I get to chat with them, I get to shake hands with them.”
Among the guest speakers he met at the conference were renowned world figures such as Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, and his wife, Raisa, an educator and author; Henry Kissinger, former U.S. secretary of state; and Dana Carvey, comedian/actor/impersonator. Each was invited to the event to reunite as representatives from around the globe, and to bring together ideas and thoughts about world issues.
Also in attendance as guest speakers were Republican Presidential Candidate Bob Dole, Dan Rather, anchor and managing editor of CBS News, as well as Steve Forbes, chief operating officer of Forbes, Inc.
“I had a very nice conversation [with all of them], especially with Steve Forbes,” he said. “He advocated the flat tax during his campaign [for presidency], and I am a great advocator of flat tax.
“I gave him some additional ideas of simplifying the tax codes. He was so excited, he grabbed me and he said, ‘You are my kind of man!'”
Dr. Ispahani said that Forbes asked for his name and phone number, at which time Dr. Ispahani gave him one of his ULV business cards. He hopes this interaction with Forbes will benefit the University in the future, as the connection may encourage Forbes to accept offers to speak at the campus.
“I came out richer than I went in,” Dr. Ispahani said, reflecting on what he gained as a special guest of the event. “It’s an indescribable feeling.”
Through class discussions and general conversations, Dr. Ispahani has already spread the word about his experience. He is confident with some of the contacts he made at the conference, and hopes these connections will benefit the University community. Primarily, he credits the opportunity to his cousin.
“I have always known, and this reconfirmed, [that] the more rich, wealthy, important a person, the less pretentious they are,” said Dr. Ispahani.
“People go through life not meeting one of these people,” he said, “and, I mean, in one day meeting all these people.”