It’s October in Austin, Texas and there is an unusual chill in the air. While the outside temperatures have dipped into an unfamiliar zone for this time of year, inside the Austin Convention Center there is warmth of familiarity, of coming home. The air in the convention center is charged with the energy of new beginnings. This is the 2018 National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Conference and Business Opportunity Exchange.
Amid the hustle and bustle of the conference, you can see a figure moving in and out of crowds, stopping to say hello, moving towards one of the main events of the conference, the Business Opportunity Exchange. Adrienne Trimble, NMSDC’s new president and CEO, is ensuring that everything is in place for the opening ceremony. Just two months after joining the organization, she is leading her first NMSDC conference.
“It has been unbelievable,” says Trimble of her first couple of months. “I have a really good team of people that have worked on this conference to get it to a good point, before I came on board.”
While her immediate focus has been on the conference, her overarching vision has been on the organization as a whole. “My days have been filled with helping people understand that we are at a time of transformation for NMSDC. What does that look like? What does that feel like? And how do we make NMSDC a known entity beyond just our network? We need to make NMSDC even more relevant than it is today.”
Trimble has been strategizing with corporate partners, advocacy groups and regional council presidents to understand what their needs are and how they can work through additional channels to garner more awareness. Also, digging in and working with the staff is important to her.
“Getting to know them and letting them get to know me as a leader was so important,” she says. “The national team has gone through a lot of transition over the last year. It was really important to me that they felt that they had a leader who was committed to the success of the organization but also the success of the staff.”
This year’s conference theme, The Global Stage for Innovation and Impact, was also the starting point for what Trimble refers to as NMSDC 2.0.
“This year’s theme is about future, forward thinking. NMSDC actually was a leader in global supply chain development for minority suppliers several years ago. So, we have started thinking about how to get NMSDC back into a leadership role. We are also offering programs and sessions on how we impact supplier diversity not just here in the U.S., but from a global perspective.”
Trimble’s vision is to transform the platform at NMSDC in three areas: technology, the certification process and the operation model.
“What people can expect to see will be an update in our technology, in terms of how we use it inside our organization, as well as, how we use it to support our corporate members and [minority business enterprises].”
Trimble says that people can expect to see some real change in the certification process. She wants to update the process to fit the business model for minority supplier development, as it will exist in the future. “When you think about ways that minority suppliers need to grow and scale and get access to capital, we have to have a model that allows them to do that and not jeopardize their minority certification standing simply because they need to have strategic alliances or joint ventures that will allow them access to resources that they would not ordinarily have access to.” Trimble says the organization will identify those issues and create a certification process that allows NMSDC to have more flexibility without diluting the actual certification.
Trimble’s plan for the operating model is simple and succinct. “My vision is that there is a single membership. I think we have to get back to a model that allows our stakeholders a similar experience no matter where they get service in our network.” She is looking forward to having stakeholders come to the table to achieve this goal.
Today, with an eye to the future, Trimble is enjoying the enthusiasm that the conference provides.
“I think this is a great time for NMSDC. I’m hoping that the energy stays beyond the conference. People can feel the change in the air and they are ready for action. They are excited about the new direction and they want to help NMSDC retake its place as the premiere advocacy organization for minority suppliers,” she says.
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