NMSDC Conference Celebrates 45 Years…And Counting!
In October, the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) celebrated its 45th Anniversary. The annual conference, held at Detroit’s Cobo Center, attracted over 6,000 attendees who traveled from every region of the country to convene on the Home of Motown Records.
Chartered in 1972, NMSDC began to certify firms that were owned and operated by minorities. Today, it remains the country’s only minority certifying organization. The conference not only celebrated the milestone of a 45-year run, it also introduced new leadership. Louis Green, the interim president, had only been in his role for three months, following the exit of Joset Wright-Lacy who had led the organization for seven years.
Although conference planning was well underway when he transitioned into the lead role, Green said delivering a successful conference was one of his priorities. The organization reported over 500 corporate exhibitors, the largest number of booths secured in 10 years. Other key deliverables include improving the financial performance of the organization and improving the relationship with the regional affiliate councils. At the time of the conference, these issues were also being aggressively addressed.
There was a freshness in the line-up of conference speakers and educational sessions. In his welcome address to conference attendees, Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of Global Operations of Ford Motor Company, who served as chairman of the NMSDC Conference said, “NMSDC is a great forum to reenergize an effort to certify, develop, connect and advocate for minority business inclusion in corporate supply chains. The NMSDC is one of the country’s leading corporate membership organizations with over 400 of the country’s largest global corporations in America as members. Their participation represents a commitment to develop a more diverse and agile supply chain.”
According to the NMSDC Economic Impact Report, minority business enterprises are a growth engine for the nation’s economy, generating over $1 billion in economic output daily. Minority businesses created 2.2 million jobs, and contributed $48 billion in tax revenue for local municipalities in 2014.
The overarching purpose of the NMSDC conference has been the same since its initial conception—to bring together corporate procurement professionals and executives along with minority businesses to facilitate business growth and development and to help forge links between the two entities.
We spoke with some attendees to get their perspective on the conference and the organization, and learned that most were excited about some of the changes they experienced and optimistic about the direction of the organization.
“I have not missed a conference since 2005. Considering the leadership change just before the conference date, I was pleasantly surprised that NMSDC did not miss a beat, the conference was well organized and well executed. This is one of the best platforms to meet with our clients and supplier partners! My colleagues and I participated in the matchmaking sessions with one of our largest clients. Our goal was to meet and engage new MBEs to potentially diversify our supply chain. The changes that I noticed and [were] excited to see were The Tech Hub and Women of Color Pavilion. They gave the conference a fresh and future feel. Talk about innovative!”
Supplier Diversity Lead
“I felt the conference was amazing! The energy, receptivity, willingness to connect [were] high and very much on display. There are more companies who have begun to take supplier diversity more seriously. They recognize the value we can drive in innovative new ways. The willingness to be creative and look for (or solicit) opportunities to engage diverse suppliers differently seems to be on the rise. I do feel we need to stress ‘spend’ less and focus more on innovation, development and sustainability. The value of attending is evident. I was honored to be part of the inaugural Women of Color Pavilion with five other amazing M/WBE’s. Those I did not know prior, [I] will continue to [have] an ongoing relationship (business and personal) [with]. In addition, my team and I were able to secure about a dozen meetings while at the conference.”
AVIS YATES RIVERS
Technology Concepts Group International
“I have been attending [the] NMSDC [conference] since 1999 with only a few breaks. It was refreshing to see some of the new technology companies like Airbnb. There was a lot of excitement in the air; it was the 45th anniversary, a new chair, and a new interim president. Lots of milestones to celebrate! I’m encouraged by some of what I saw and what I heard about the new direction for the organization. The National Veterans Business Development Council’s (NVBDC) mission is to certify and develop veteran-owned businesses. We were pleased to be a part of the program. Our President, Keith King, was able to gain visibility by participating in the ‘Bigger Discussion: Future of Supplier Diversity’ session and represented the veterans. In terms of connectivity value, we were able to connect with minority and women-owned veteran businesses, as well as potential corporate sponsors. Since the conference, we are experiencing increased interest and inquiries about our program. That’s success!”
BRENDA R. SMITH, CPSD, CPSM, PMP
Vice President of Corporate Development
National Veterans Business Development Council
One of the most talked about highlights of the conference was the awards ceremony where Green presented the Harriet Michel Leadership Award to Pauline Gebon, head of Supplier Diversity at MetLife and Javette Hines, senior vice president of Supplier Diversity and Sustainability at Citigroup, Inc. There were also awards given to 45 supplier diversity trailblazers who formed a 45rpm record, as a tribute to Motown Records, the iconic African-American owned record company that was created in Detroit and rose to global fame managing some of the most successful soul recording artists in the country. In the end, the audience was treated to a video, 45 years of past conferences, which served as a reminder of the importance of the conference, NMSDC, corporate partners, MBEs and all the work that they accomplish…together!