MSDUK’s first North-West region supplier diversity day for Ethnic Minority Businesses (EMBs) took place at the Manchester Marriott Victoria & Albert hotel. The event featured a fascinating panel discussion on doing business with large companies, followed by a presentation from leading motivational speaker, David McQueen.
Founded in 2006, MSDUK has worked with over 125 global brands and more than 1500 EMBs, introducing hundreds of new ideas, products and supply chain solutions and securing £735m worth of business for EMBs. The organisation inspires the next generation of ethnic minority founders, offering them a platform to showcase their innovative ideas, and provide them access to knowledge, investment and markets to help them grow and achieve their dreams.
The panel comprised of leading lights of industry; Nick Caton, Director of Procurement at Barclays; Aysha Kazi, CEO at Ark Talent; Azeem Khan, CEO at Gemini Group; Dennis Ford, International Sourcing Leader at Cummins and Jason Black of Enterprise Holdings.
Among the guests was Bipin Patel, Business Consultant at Blackburn-based, Guide Security, who said: “I believe that diversity is one of the big pluses that this region has, but translating that to profitability is quite a steep journey,”
“MSDUK is leading that charge. We’re here to find out how they’ve done that. People like Mayank have spent a lifetime overcoming some of these challenges and bringing down the barriers.”
Reet Dhallu, Lead Regional Membership Manager (GM North and South) at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, added: “It was of benefit to our members as it allowed them to connect with other businesses in the area. It widens our membership and gave members the opportunity to connect with diverse businesses. Attendees make some useful connections with some of these corporate organisations.”
Nick Caton offered advice on the opportunities in public and private sectors: “Local Authorities have social value policies in procurement and use that as part of their procedure.
“In the private sector, diversity is becoming more important. In Barclays, we have a very big supplier diversity programme. We’re seeing a change where businesses are taking the diversity agenda more seriously because our customers want it. The commitment is real and is flowing through into procurement processes, so take advantage because the time is now.”
The importance of networking was emphasised by Aysha, who commented: “It’s about relationship building and networks. You may be part of MSD and go to a conference that you think isn’t relevant, but everyone is connected to another person and they may know someone who has something for you. And once you have a relationship, maintain it.”
The discussion was followed by a presentation by David McQueen on creating the perfect pitch. In his presentation, he said: “As a business owner, you’re always pitching – to staff, customers and stakeholders, and even through things like blogs and networking. You’re talking about what you’re really passionate about, so concentrate on the human element. If you’re fired up, you’ll do a good job.”
He also talked about the importance of really engaging with people: “If you can make people smile, you’ll take them on a journey.”
Also impressed was Godwin Anthony of Ascent Leadership: “I joined MSDUK a few months ago and I’ve been to a few events and I’ve been blown away by the calibre of people and what they’re promoting – diversity in the workplace. It’s amazing.”