A substantive Business Connections event was held at PepsiCo’s state-of-the-art Sustainability Center in Chicago, IL on October 8, 2015, providing much networking and business card exchange opportunities. US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation (USPAACC) was the host. The event brought together Asian American and other minority business owners, Fortune corporation supplier diversity leaders and Chicago-based nonprofit business organizations.
A 20-year supporter and USPAACC member, PepsiCo’s Ron Costephens, Senior Director of Global Procurement, Global Beverage Engineering and Construction, opened with welcome remarks. The highlight of the evening was a keynote speech by David Little, Divisional Vice President of Procurement at Sears Holding Group. The takeaway from his presentation was, “Buyers think about how fast we can get to an arrangement that works for us both with built in scale and continuous opportunity.” Therefore, they look for vendors that are responsible and follow a code of conduct for suppliers, can be trusted, have good pricing, quality service and could become real partners in the long run. Remember to complete RFPs, RFQs, RFIs, etc., follow through on questions asked, never miss deadlines, communicate adequately with procurement and never ever go behind them.
Then, a panel discussion among five Corporate Supplier Diversity leaders representing five distinct industries: Deborah Fuentes Niziolek, Manager, Supplier Diversity at AT&T; Terry Miller, Manager, Diverse Business Empowerment at Exelon Corporation; Kele Tom, Senior Manager of Purchasing at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts; Did Anekwe, Supplier Diversity Consultant at Nationwide; and Grace Wang, Strategic Sourcing Senior Category Manager at United Airlines. They focused on the growing importance of Supplier Diversity and leveraging relationships to gain contracts. Today, diverse suppliers no longer pertain only to minorities and women but also include LGBT* and veterans. In order to stay ahead of the competition, suppliers must have “all ducks in a row,” referring to a top-notch and up-to-date website, a strong capability statement and all relevant documentation, including certification for NMSDC, USPAACC, WBENC, and NGLCC, readily available in a digital form.
The panel concluded their discussion with important advice: Be patient. A good relationship with a corporation is built overtime with multiple face-to-face meetings and phone conversations. Suppliers must be ready to present how their product/service can be used to fulfill a buyer’s need in a cost-effective and innovative way. And once that coveted contract is earned, make sure to keep the buyer updated on the impact it has created for your company.
A successful event that combined a substantive program and networking at the front and back end, this will be the first of more to come for USPAACC in the Midwest as the economy is turning for the better and the Asian American business community is growing faster than ever.
To see photos from this event, click here.
*Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender