Chicago is home to many great things—bold architecture, jazz music, deep-dish pizza and most recently, the 2016 World Series winners Chicago Cubs. Last October, the Windy City also hosted the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council’s (NMSDC) Conference and Business Opportunity Exchange.
Chicago’s world-class McCormick Place convention center was the perfect location for a dynamic four-day event where thousands of corporate CEOs, procurement executives and supplier diversity professionals from the top multinational companies were able to discuss ideas as well as attend more than 20 educational seminar sessions and interactive workshops that centered around the theme “Minority Supplier Development: Investing In The Future.’’
As the conference commenced with high energy, signs of the future were revealed throughout the convention. A presentation given during the Global Strategy Summit featuring Nichole Lamb-Hale from Albright Stonebridge Group LLC, supplier diversity subject matter experts and MBEs gave attendees the opportunity to enhance their understanding of how and why to construct a global strategy around minority supplier development that would deliver value to their organizations.
NMSDC President Joset Wright-Lacy, who spent months planning the conference, strongly believes investing in the future entails looking at the economic and demographic realities facing the country, which includes addressing the fact that 70 percent of the purchasing power in the world is outside of the U.S. “The smart companies are figuring out how they’re going to build a base of minority businesses, now, that will hire the young men and women who will be joining the workforce in five, 10 and 20 years because that’s where the growth is going to be.”
Wright-Lacy encourages MBEs to recognize the marketplace is evolving quickly with the digitization and mobilization of just about everything. She believes these transformations will fundamentally alter how business is conducted.
“If you have not figured out what your digital strategy is, what your global strategy is, you’re going to get left behind,” she explained. “Now is the time to look at your portfolio of products and services and say How do I ramp this up so I can compete in the next wave?”’
Another NMSDC highlight and noticeable investment to the future theme was the presence of The Emerging Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) program. NMSDC partnered with McPherson | Berry to support their commitment to provide the next generation of minority millennial entrepreneurs who will assist the needs of corporate members, MBEs and additional stakeholders. Excited about the program, Wright-Lacy plans to continue growing the pipeline.
“We want to teach them about the values of certification and being part of a network like NMSDC. We want to give them basic blocking and tackling for how to get your business going,” she said.
As part of the program, which is sponsored by MetLife, participants will be partnered with a mentor for one year to help them with their business.
The conference’s luncheon keynote speaker was H. James Dallas, president of J Dallas & Associates, which is known for working with businesses to help them achieve the organizational alignment needed to successfully implement change. Although, he is noted as one of the most powerful black men in corporate America by Black Enterprise and Savoy magazine, this was the first time Dallas had ever attended an NMSDC conference. He was refreshingly candid about the challenges of managing change as a leader.
Several festivities were held throughout the conference. During the annual awards banquet, IBM was named National Corporation of the Year while the Houston MSDC received the coveted Regional Council of the Year award. Elisabete Miranda, president & CEO of CQ Fluency, was honored by the NMSDC with the Regional Supplier of the Year— Class II award for the Northeast. Region.
Facebook representatives celebrated their initiation into the Supplier Diversity world with an electrifying launch party. Not only was this a great opportunity to network outside of workshops and meetings, but guests were treated to delectable food, a photo booth, and live music.
Insight Marketing’s CEO Keshia Walker partnered with several MBEs to throw a banger of a party with special guest Doug E. Fresh. This glamourous and eventful evening was packed with supplier diversity professionals and MBEs.
Now, that the country is under a new presidential administration, Wright-Lacy remains confident about the future for MBEs.
“Given the Republican support of business in general, we are hopeful that pro-business policies will help minority businesses as well. It is critical to our nation’s economy that this administration be proactive at implementing policies that address barriers to growth for minority owned businesses. Specifically, incentives that free up capital for minority business will stimulate growth, increase jobs and generate tax revenues. NMSDC-certified MBEs deliver over $IB in economic output daily. In fact, minority businesses were a key factor in the recovery of the economy during the economic downturn,” she said.
Next stop for the NMSDC Conference 2017 …The Motor City.