AWIB (Asian Women in business) Procurement Conference

By Jasmin Justo

Asian Women in Business is an organization dedicated to the assisting and developing Asian women entrepreneurs and professionals as well as aiding Asian American businesses and professionals. AWIB has also collaborated with MWBE in identifying and exploring procurement opportunities by facilitating dialogue between small businesses and corporate buyers at the Annual AWIB Procurement Conference.

The Annual AWIB Procurement Conference is an informative event that gives corporate buyers, government officials, and businesses an opportunity to network and collaborate on procurement opportunities. The annual conference also grants the pre-qualified minority and women-owned businesses matchmaking appointments with corporate buyers. Since the first conference in 2003, the Procurement Conference has become a significant event for small business in the tri-state areas and has aided companies strive through the competitive business world.

In this year’s Procurement Conference, distinguished speaker NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer made a speech on the importance of equal opportunities and diversity in the business world and his role in promoting change, “One study after another has proven that diverse groups make fiscal decisions that are sound. Boosting minorities and women is not just the right thing to do, it happens to be the smart thing to do and when it comes to creating fundamental change there’s only one color that breaks down barriers…it’s green. Equal access to economic opportunity is the only way to establish a truly just society.”

During his speech he announced that for the first time in history, the City of New York will pass a policy requiring businesses to fulfill the diversity criteria. This is the first time the city has adopted such a policy as an effort to promote transparency about the diversity of businesses that serve a diverse city. This is part of Mr. Stringer’s larger plan to enhance opportunities for minorities to participate in the corporate world. Apart from the diversity criteria, he also seeks elections in the corporate board room to be more transparent and disclosure from money managers of how tax dollars are being invested. He also seeks to grant more procurement and city contracts to women and minority owned business. In order to make this possible, Mr. Stringer introduced the first Chief Diversity Officer Carra Wallace and her Deputy Wendy Garcia, with the responsibility to increase contract opportunities for minorities and women across New York City’s agencies and the private sector with innovative solutions. In his vision, enhancing diversity leads to progress, innovative solutions and improves the overall health of the economy.

Following his speech, distinguished speaker M/WBE Director Maya Wiley spoke of the importance of removing legal barriers that prevent agencies the discretion from granting procurement contracts to M/WBE businesses. According to Director Wiley, it is difficult to grant contracts to M/WBE when they are not the lowest bid as required by the city. However Director Wiley has worked with the Mayor to find ways to grant that are not subject to the Project Labor Agreement (PLA) discussion which enabled an increase from $100,000 to $200,000 in awards. Also for the first time, a mentorship program for construction was created with a $1 million award. “This is an $800 billion dollar deal that’s a lot of business we can do
with MWBE’s that we have not been able to do before.” She also highlights that part of their advocacy is to allow the city to use the same criteria that the state uses to determine MWBE contracts, to allow the city to consider MWBE status when determining Best Value awards and to allow agencies more discretion when choosing businesses to grant awards. This process is not simple or easy as she explains that her organization has been convening with agencies, industries, and other MWBE organizations at City Hall every quarter in order to maximize their progress, “The dramatic progress we’ve made just in the past eighteen months and the commitment of this administration and partnerships with you means we can absolutely do this.”

Following the distinguished speakers, President Bonnie Wong of Asian Women in Business moderated the panel of “Doing Business with Corporate America” with Vice-President of Supply Chain Carlos A. Maceda; Senior Director of Global Sourcing & Procurement Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. Kristina Johnson; Director of Supplier Diversity for DDB Worldwide Communications Group Dawn Fitch Mitchell; and Senior Manager of Supplier Diversity for NBCUniversal Angela M. Guzman.

In general, the panel gave important tips of what to watch out for when applying for procurement with large corporate agencies. For instance, Mr. Maceda emphasized that when making an offer as a vendor, the vendor must be reliable, knowledgeable of the business, has the necessary credentials to operate in business, and must be able to provide the required services in an efficient timely manner. He also emphasized that it is important to form a direct relationship with large corporations in order to avoid middlemen and to keep transactions quick and efficient. Mrs. Mitchell also advised that when coming into an interview or meeting, to always be prepared and to have a clear outline as a company of what you want from forging a relationship with a large corporation and what you can provide to help the company so it can become a win-win situation. Mrs. Guzman also added that it is essential to keep in contact in order to keep opportunities open for potential business negotiations because there are times when they encounter other corporations in need of the services. Mrs. Johnson also mentioned that events such as these are very beneficial because businesses and corporations are able to meet each other directly and understand each other better rather than setting up an appointment. Also it is extremely important to do one’s research about the corporation and industry as well as investment trends in order to make the best offer and value for their services that are consistent with the demands of today’s markets such as information technology services.

After the corporate panel, General Manager for the Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights from the Port Authority of NY&NJ, Ms. Ida Perich moderated the “Doing Business with the Government”. The panel featured distinguished speakers the director of External Affairs for the NYC Department of Small Business Services Walter Maxwell; Director of the MWBE Outreach for CUNY Office of the University Comptroller; Supervisory Economic Development Specialist for the U.S Small Business Administration Man-Li Lin; and Manager of the Business & Diversity Initiaves Unit and Metropolitan Transportation Authority George Llanos. In this panel, the experts spoke of the new opportunities for MWBE businesses and gave advice on important websites and updates to look for when seeking procurement opportunities with
government agencies. Mrs. Lin announced that by the end of 2015, any women owned business can do a self certification online at sam.gov without going through the current process. This allows women owned businesses to make contracts automatically with other companies. Mr. Maxwell explains that as service or product suppliers, they must be proactive in searching opportunities in industries that are most likely to utilize their services because it is a lengthy process to receive certifications and awards.

Here is a list of websites the panel recommended for procurement businesses to check for updates and procurement opportunities.
www.nyc.gov/pip: a website used for vendor registration with the city.
www.nyc.gov/certifyonline: a website for updating information after registration.
www.nyc.gov/cityrecord: gives information about agencies and procurement businesses earning more than $100,00.
www.nyc.gov/mocs: information on bid openings for more than 38,000 contracts available.
www.nyc.gov/ppb: a website with information and resources for procurement.
www.ogs.state.ny.us/purchase/searchbrowse.asp: a NYS website that allows businesses to search for IT contracts.

The panel also made recommendations for the procurement businesses to check the annual procurement indicator report especially after a new fiscal year begins because it lists all the information of how much money is spent during the year and who is making the contracts which can enable networking and possible negotiations with the contractor. They also suggest that when procurement businesses register to ensure that they are certified for LGBT, social/economically advantaged women, veterans, and disabilities as well as their contractor so they can give employment opportunities for minorities and the disabled. Mr. Llanos also recommended that businesses check the NY Post every Thursday where the MTA makes a lists of new openings and contracts. There’s also a Small Business Mentoring Program which grants $1 to $3 million on primary contractor on projects. For a list of qualifications and more information about the program visit: http://web.mta.info/sbdp/tier1.htm

After the government panel, Ms. Robyn Hatcher, Founder and CEO of SpeakEtc. facilitated the networking opportunity portion of the conference giving fun useful tips to leave a quick stunning first impression which is a necessary tool in negotiations, meetings, interviews, and presentations. Here’s a list of steps of how to establish an interesting and engaging contact:

1. Smile- by showing a smile, it gives off a friendly invitation. She also suggest establishing eye contact using your eyebrows as a way to intrigue interests.
2. Body language- it is important to be able to read the other person’s body language to determine if they are truly engaged or feel hesitant. If the person seems hesitant or eager to leave, keep the talk short and sweet and to engage in talk with someone else. It is also important to use your voice as a tool to engage them so they can hear you clearly.
3. Engage in small talk related to the topic at hand.- when introducing oneself give a fun fact, mention an interesting part of your job, or even start with a question to intrigue the listener.
4. Dress to express- the importance of choosing attire that is representative of your position in
the company while expressing your personality.

After completing these four steps, it is important to inform the person about your objectives and potential solutions you can offer with reassurance. To reassure the person, she suggests offering statistics about your companies projects, your career experience, or any other valuable information in relation to the conversation. After introducing these facts you seduce them with how the other person can improve with your what your selling. For example, if you offer IT services in improving cyber security, tell them the benefits of your company’s high success rates with XYZ firms in decreasing malware threats by percentage and present to them the benefits of using your service be it a affordable premium plan or free weekly updates on the latest security technology. She emphasizes that it is essential at this stage to keep the person engagement because this is where they remember your impression as a person and are most likely to remember what you say. Once you reach this step, it can seal negotiations, establish a network connection, and can improve the results from interviews, meetings, or conferences.

During the conference, there was an exhibitor area where businesses, government agencies and corporations where able to exchange information and form network connections. Here’s a list of the exhibitors:

Battery Park City Authority
Dormitory Authority State of New York (DASNY)
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
NYC School Construction Authority
NYC Housing Authority
Port Authority of NY/NJ
City University of New York (CUNY)
NYC Economic Development Corporation
NYC Department of Education
NYC Department of Environmental Protection
NYC Department of Fire (FDNY)
NYC Human Resources Administration
NYC Police Department (NYPD)
NYC Parks and Recreation Department
NYC Department of Sanitation
NYC Department of Small Businesses Services
NYC Department of Transportation
Office of the NYC Comptroller
NYS Department of Health
NYS Empire State Development
NYS Homes and Community Renewal
NYS Office of General Services
Office of the NYS Comptroller
US Army Corps of Engineers
US Department of Education
US Department of Labor
US General Services Administration
US Small Business Administration/NY
ACE New York
BNY Mellon
Enterprise Holdings
NYS Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
PSEG Long Island
Hudson Reporting & Video, Inc.

Special thanks to BNY Mellon for hosting the 2015 AWIB Annual Procurement Conference.

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