IACCGH Hosts Supplier Diversity and Certification Seminar


From left: IACCGH President Sanjay Ramabhadran, Rogelio Anasagasti (HCC), Richard Huebner (HMSDC), Annie Lidge (FLUOR), Kimberly Williams, (METRO) April Day,(WBEA) Carlecia Wright,City of Houston, Steve Dukes, (CenterPoint Energy) Donavan Casanave (Shell) and Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia. Photo: Bijay Dixit

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: Four major certification agencies and four high level Fortune 500 Supplier Diversity Managers shared a wealth of information about the advantages of certification and the Procurement process with IACCGH members and guests on November 17 at the HESS Club.

In a competitive global business landscape, having a unique value proposition may not always be enough for business growth. Visibility, credibility and access to decision making company representatives at expos and trade fairs as well as keeping abreast of the latest opportunities in the field may sometimes clinch a contract and helps business grow.

One of the first and best steps to bring visibility to a business and promote growth is to be certified by nationally recognized certification companies. One of the premier certification agencies – HMSDC’s President Richard Huebner – aptly described by IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia as “the father of diversity in Houston” outlined the process and benefits of certification describing it as “an entry point to business.”

Certification with HMSDC is a 5 step process and offers the primary advantage of credibility. Corporations primarily look for a company that has been certified to do business with as “it validates who you are and what you do” by an independent certification agency. Certification also offers exposure to market one’s business and access to corporations looking for suppliers.

Director, City of Houston, Office of Business Opportunity, Carlecia Wright also stressed the fact that certification is key to the growth and success of smaller businesses and offers an opportunity to “educate oneself, connect and grow.” The Office offers a variety of certifications for Minority, woman owned and small businesses and the aim is to “get the company to be that Fortune 500 Company.” A new initiative – Hire Houston First – offers a competitive edge to those certified businesses located in the city of Houston or the surrounding 8 counties over those located elsewhere, when making a bid for business.

“If you are a bold innovative business, then you must get certified,” was President, Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance, April Day’s advice to the gathering. Being certified with WBEA makes one a part of 12,000 network of woman owned businesses and expands your company’s visibility to decision makers in supplier diversity and procurement offices. It also provides scholarships in professional development opportunities for team members of a growing business.

Deputy Chief Procurement Officer, METRO, Kimberly Williams believed that the biggest benefit of certification is the sharing of information and “getting your name and your brand out there.” Being a METRO certified Small Business allows a company to be listed in the METRO directory as a Small Business Program participant, offers technical assistance services and is accepted by the Houston Community College, Houston First Corp. and the Port of Houston for their business development programs.

Shell’s Manager of Supplier Diversity, Donovan Casanave stressed the fact that certified businesses must be able to “articulate where they fit in” in a Company’s supply chain. He also encouraged the gathering to attend expos, seek out supplier diversity representatives, ask about subcontracting opportunities, be visible and in touch with the representatives.

Describing CenterPoint Energy as the company “one thinks of on hot days and the cold days,” Steve Dukes, Senior Coordinator, Supplier Diversity offered examples of two certified businesses who worked with CenterPoint Energy in Field Data Management and IT consultancy.

Annie Lidge, Program Manager, Supplier Diversity of FLUOR, explained how the Company uses diverse local businesses for their contracting jobs and how certification helps. It is also important for businesses to ask themselves what makes them “unique and different” to be able to get a foothold in business contracts.

“Get as many certifications as possible,” was the advice by Rogelio Anasagasti, Executive Director, Procurement Operations, HCC, as it “opens doors”, visit expos and build a relation of trust with supplier diversity managers.

The day’s takeaways was that a business can be successful and grow if it can get certified, have a unique value proposition, build relationships with decision makers, be visible, outperform competition and as Steve Dukes put it – “hang in there.”.