“Business transformed” was the theme for SCMSDC’s Minority Business Opportunity Day (MBOD), held April 23-24 in Pasadena, and the council’s biggest networking event of the year lived up to its billing. Where else could minority business enterprises (MBEs):
- Give their 60-second company pitch, receive immediate feedback by a judging panel, then refine their pitch at the popular exhibit fair featuring key corporate decision makers and others.
- Receive proven, expert advice on how to move to a bold new level of leadership ability, increasing presence, influence and overall success.
- Meet one-on-one with corporate representatives from a variety of industries to discuss potential business opportunities in areas where they need vendors and suppliers.
- Learn first-hand what it takes to do business with organizations amid an ever-changing business climate.
- Hear how a fellow minority entrepreneur found success after staying true to his life’s purpose to “do your best and help other people.”
“MBOD 2018 was all about providing MBEs with the necessary tools and creating relationships to help them move their businesses forward during a time where disruptive innovation is becoming more commonplace,” according to SCMSDC President Virginia Gomez. “Based on early feedback, this year’s theme struck a chord with both MBE and corporate attendees.”
Day 1: Sharing insights, perfecting pitches
Day 1 began at the Westin Pasadena with a workshop, sponsored by Southern California Edison (SCE), featuring representatives from SCE, City of Los Angeles and Charter Communications sharing insights into their organizations and how diverse suppliers can support their efforts to innovate and grow.
Representatives included: Joshua Torres, government affairs manager, SCE; Michael Owh, chief procurement officer, Office of the Mayor, City of Los Angeles; and from Charter Communications, Megan Rast, senior manager, Supplier Diversity; Pete Rough, director, Procurement, Field Operations; and Wally Bakare, area vice president.
Next, during the new pitch competition, MBEs practiced their one-minute pitch in front of a judging panel. The panel included Jeff Alton, director, Studio Sourcing and Strategy, The Walt Disney Company; Lisa Castillo, senior Supplier Diversity manager, West Coast, AT&T; Melanie Gunn, manager, Supplier Diversity, Time Warner; Dave Feldman, manager, Local Content/Supplier Diversity, Chevron; and Ying McGuire, vice president, International Operations and Business Development, Technology Integration Group.
The panel offered MBEs constructive feedback on improving company messages, including using examples of how they enhance customer value, better differentiating their services from competitors and being concise when describing their businesses.
After all the pitches were completed, the judges deliberated and announced the top winners. The grand prize winner was Optic Utility Marker, which was awarded a scholarship to the Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth, Minority Business Program. Runners-up were En Pointe IT Solutions and Elevate Lyfe, which will have an opportunity to dine with Michael Cooper, director of Sourcing and Procurement, Disney Worldwide Services; and Charles Harmon, senior manager, Administration Division, American Honda Motor Co., respectively. In addition, the judges awarded another prize – an hour of offering business advice and mentoring – to Oil Off.
Other participants included: Think Now, Kaygen, AmmMmm, Snap Marketing, Icon Blue, CIP Solutions, and Stardust Spill Products.
The day came to a close with a reception where business owners and corporate representatives had a chance to network and mingle in a relaxing, outdoor setting.
Day 2: Winning in business, networking/matchmaking and giving back
After a welcome from Mayor of Pasadena Terry Tornek, Charmaine McClarie, a senior executive coach who has helped corporate leaders increase their leadership acumen, communications and executive presence, gave a moving speech on how to win in business.
She shared six essential tips to drive success: 1) communicate the vision, 2) speak in headlines, 3) make three must-make points – What’s in it for me? Why should I listen? What do I do about it? 4) create witnesses, (i.e., someone who can advocate on your behalf, 5) don’t audition for the part – just do it; and 6) embody your message – walk, talk and act your part.
McClarie said, “Be clear who you are — you want to be seen and heard to bring value to people of influence,” and added, “be a thought partner — don’t just sell your product or service.”
Feeling inspired, MBEs were ready to apply the lessons learned at the exhibit fair, which included corporate and MBE exhibitors representing a wide variety of industries, from automotive, technology, and entertainment to banking and manufacturing. The Construction Hardhat Pavilion, sponsored by Turner Construction, a special forum for suppliers who offer construction and/or construction-related products and services, also made a return appearance and proved popular with both corporate members and MBEs.
During lunch, National Minority Supplier Development Council Interim President Louis Green discussed the future landscape of business for corporations and MBEs.
Following his remarks, luncheon speaker Neal Sales-Griffin, entrepreneur and CEO of CodeNow, a nonprofit that teaches coding to low-income high school students, talked about his life growing up on the south side of Chicago in a multicultural family.
He shared his personal story of how he went from being a poor kid to business owner, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and teacher to help kids learn how to code. Sales-Griffin said, “I’ve taught over 2,000 young people how to code and build their dream. I help people solve problems and help them get their start…the world gets better when you teach them.”
His work to give back to others and teach coding has spawned over 100 software, startups and careers, and he returns weekly to his childhood neighborhood to teach kids how they can use coding to improve their lives.
Wanting to leave an even greater impact, Sales-Griffin is running for mayor of Chicago. He encouraged the audience to identify their purpose. “For me, that’s when things took off.”
The afternoon featured one-on-one appointments in the plush matchmaking lounge, designed like a creative office space. The appointments provided certified MBEs an exclusive 10-minute introduction to corporate members to discuss potential business opportunities.
Participating organizations included American Red Cross, Amgen, AT&T, California American Water, California Department of General Services, Charter Communications, Chevron, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Golden State Water, Johnson Controls, Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Southern California Gas Co., Southwest Gas, Time Warner and Toyota.
The event also included a certification workshop featuring representatives from certifying agencies who shared the ins and outs of certification and the documentation needed. Participants included Aubrey Lavitoria, SBA; Danetta Jackson, Department of General Services; Dawn Marchand, WBEC-West; Marquita Thomas, LAGLCC; and Marlene Nantell, SCMSDC, as moderator.
Voices from MBOD
“The new venue to participate in the 60-second pitch was exciting to me. Having the chance to present to a panel of seasoned judges was a rare opportunity to sharpen my skills and get feedback from the group. I had been refining my pitch and it seemed to have paid off given I took away one of the awards. This definitely was a unique experience and worth the effort.” — Brian Keith Huber, En Pointe IT Solutions
“MBOD 2018 is about making sure that minority businesses continue to be a force for innovation and transformation.” – Charles Harmon, American Honda Motor Co.
“Great networking and matchmaking opportunities at MBOD this year. I had two matchmaking sessions and have already advanced to discussing next steps.” — Anita Kantak, Applied Research West
“MBOD’s luncheon keynote speaker, Neal Sales-Griffin, was truly inspirational. He embodied MBEs’ entrepreneurial spirit of perseverance, innovation and transformational community impact.” — Aura McCracken-Byrd, Comcast NBCUniversal
“My experience at MBOD this year was FANTASTIC. Not only did I give my 60-second pitch before a prestigious panel of judges, I was called on the next morning by Charmaine McClarie to help me with my delivery for the next opportunity. Although I didn’t win 1st prize, these are moments you can’t put a price on. I appreciate all the feedback and plan to incorporate all the information that was provided. I connected with many of my existing clients and made some amazing connections with new corporations. I’m looking forward to all of the possibilities.” — Marlene Bonner, SNAP MARKETING