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WBENC Summit and Salute recognizes WBEs and their supporters

Attendees got good advice and a chance to connect with potential clients and partners


Each spring the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC, www.wbenc.org) recognizes top women’s business enterprises (WBEs) and the corporations that support them. This year’s two-day Summit and Salute event was held in Baltimore, MD, and drew almost 1,250 attendees.

“Our celebration of the fourteen WBE Stars was a great way to recognize National Women’s History Month,” notes Pamela Prince-Eason, president and CEO of WBENC, in her April “President’s Report.” “They are examples of women business leaders whose determination, commitment and leadership are worthy of the same recognition as previous leading women in history. Congratulations to our 2013 WBE Stars!”

Corporate support
Accenture and Ernst & Young were presenting sponsors of the event. James S. Turley, global chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, received the Crystal Leadership award. The award, the highest honor given to a corporate entity by WBENC, recognized Turley’s leadership in influencing women’s business success through Ernst & Young’s innovative women’s business development programs.

“Jim Turley demonstrates the power of principled leadership in spurring growth among women’s businesses, from emerging entrepreneurs to established suppliers,” said Prince-Eason. The award was accepted by Kerrie MacPherson, Ernst & Young partner and principal; Turley was out of the country on business, but sent a video message for the attendees.

The event also honored thirty-two “top companies for women in business.” Chrysler Group LLC, General Motors, Macy’s and Wal-Mart Stores appeared on the list for the first time.

The complete list, in alphabetical order: Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Avis Budget Group, Bank of America, BP America, Chevron, Chrysler Group LLC, Dell, Energy Future Holdings, Ernst & Young LLP, Exxon Mobil Corp, Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Kelly Services, Macy’s, ManpowerGroup, Marriott International, Office Depot, Pacific Gas and Electric Co, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Pitney Bowes, Shell, Target Corp, Coca-Cola, United Airlines, UPS, Verizon Communications and Wal-Mart Stores.

Contacts and guidance
Attendees had many opportunities during the event to mingle and network with corporate and government WBENC members and other WBEs. On the first day, selected WBEs met privately with corporate members and their prime suppliers and business partners to explore tier 1, 2 and 3 sourcing opportunities.

Workshops and panels over both days of the event included tips for WBEs on presenting their company’s strengths to prospective clients. The advice was delivered by a panel of supplier diversity and sourcing professionals from DuPont, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Comcast, plus three WBEs who had successfully sold to them.

Panel participants recommended that WBEs start by offering their strongest products or services, and build from there. They told WBEs to ensure that their companies are professionally presented on the Web and social media, in marketing materials and in target clients’ supplier diversity portals. They also urged WBEs to attend events in target industries and in their own practice areas, such as engineering, finance, marketing or communications.

Other advice included tailoring a pitch to each specific client. “Don’t give a generic pitch. We need to understand why you are different and how you address the company’s pain points,” said one procurement professional. And actively maintaining contacts with supplier diversity and procurement professionals is essential, the panelists agreed.

“Join forces. Succeed together.”
Cooperation and collaboration is the 2013 theme for WBENC. “Join forces. Succeed together,” the 2013 WBENC slogan, is a reminder that WBEs and their clients are working for common goals. The Summit and Salute offered a range of opportunities to network. The organization’s National Conference and Business Fair, being held this year from June 25 to 27 in Minneapolis, MN, will offer even more.

D/C


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