Astra WBENC Workshops, EXPO and Matchmaker, Seattle September 13, 2012 – Being Smart Out Loud

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WBEs from across the USA & Canada, corporate & agency representatives joined Astra in Seattle on September 13th, 2012, for a jam-packed day that included workshops, an EXPO of WBEs, and an afternoon of matchmaking.

Astra WBE, Fran Zone of Zone Communications kicked off the day by warming everyone up with her stories & interactive exercises.  She shared her secrets of being Smart Out Loud by explaining that in a world of short attention spans and brief encounters, standing out from the pack requires the ability to be Smart Out Loud in real time. Being Smart Out Loud means knowing the right thing to say, when to say it, how to say it, and how to turn every interaction into an opportunity. Remember to carry yourself not your stuff; stand up straight and take off five pounds; and focus on drawing attention to your eyes with color & objects. Check out Read My Pins by one of Fran’s favorite people, Madeleine Albright.

Following Fran, the workshops continued with 2 interactive panels.  First up, a panel of supplier diversity leaders from private and public companies shared their insights and best practices for company introductions. WBEs were engaged and had fun with this interactive session. Participants prepared and delivered their pitch messages to the panel and received ratings as well as valuable feedback from the panel.  The panel was moderated by Astra’s own Diane McClelland and the panelists: Diane Lin, Starbucks; Kenyon Taylor, GSA;Veronica Kammler, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District; Lucy Leu, U.S. Navy – Naval Supply Systems – Command – Fleet Logistics Center – Puget Sound.)

The second panel covered Women in Construction. Moderated by Holli Dorr of Hollister Construction, the panelists gave WBEs insight into winning contracts in both the public & private sectors. Panelists: Mel Jones, Skanska USA; Ida Booker, The Boeing Company; Marc Sauze, Stantec; Roxie Schescke, Indian Eyes, LLC; and Eric Maughan, North Wind Group.

Guests at lunch were entertained by Paul Taylor, Taylor Global Law and a member of Astra’s Global Committee who shared best practices and current opportunities for expanding business globally.

Following lunch all WBEs participated in the afternoon matchmaking – “roundtable style”. This new format (v. short 1-to-1 interviews) was used to promote not only interaction between WBEs and Corporate/Agency representatives but also to promote WBE to WBE networking. In the past,  1-to-1 sessions tend to be rushed and tense. Access is limted and this creates an air of exclusivity as well as a huge undertaking by resource scarce WBE advocates who typically meet with a new company every 6-10 minutes. In Seattle, each Roundtable was co-hosted by a trained facilitator & corporate/agency representative who introduced themselves & shared their organization’s information. Table assignments were made based on sourcing requests from the advocates, industry groups and potential teaming opportunities amongst WBEs. Each WBE at the table took turns giving their pitch, sharing their marketing materials and receiving feedback from not only the table hosts but also the WBEs. Using this format created a positive atmosphere of access, cooperation and support.   Here is how one WBE summed it up:

“I loved the 25 minutes roundtable discussions!  It was a great opportunity to learn about our corporate host but perhaps more importantly, we learned about our fellow WBEs.  At our first table there were several opportunities between WBEs that we would never have known about had the matchmaker sessions been one on one. Thank you ASTRA!!” Sandy Dupleich, Dynamic Language

More feedback from attendees:

  • “Wonderful! I would attend again in a heartbeat!” Jodie Landes, Arcus Communications
  • “The contacts and strategies developed at Astra events are incredibly valuable and transformational!” Sharon Root, Computer Magic Training
  • “I always take away something new from Astra’s events.  It’s wonderful to network with other women business owners and build our relationships.” Renee Fink,  ClearPath Management Group, Inc.
  • “Another great opportunity to connect with dynamic people making the most of shared opportunities.” Sandy Hunter, Hunter Hawk, Inc.
  • “The conference exceeded my expectations, I came away with several ideas and contact.” Bibby Gignilliat, Parties That Cook
  • “This was an outstanding event that provided immediate information I could use in growing my business.” Amanda Grindle, Muir Contracting, Inc.
  • “This conference provided us an opportunity to meet and speak with so many individuals that benefited us both professionally and personally.  The format provided a warm, friendly and supportive atmosphere – completely conducive to learning and building relationships.” Karen Gildea, Amick Brown
  • “Having attended numerous small and large business events over the years, yours was by far one of the very best.  The contacts and content were very much applicable to our business.  I am looking forward to the next one!.”  Kathryn Townsend, West Sound Workforce

Didn’t make it to Seattle? Check out the program below.

Open publication

Astra Annual Matchmaker & EXPO

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$4 Billion. Together we are strong.

As of March 31st, 2012,  Astra (WBENC) WBEs employ 20,768 people and are generating over $4 billion dollars annually in revenue. Women-owned businesses in the West are thriving. As a regional network our reach is wide. Located in 6 states, 33% of Astra’s WBEs describe themselves as ethnically diverse. Working together,we make a big impact in our region.

As diverse businesses, WBEs, can further boost the network by establishing and implementing their own Supplier Diversity Program. Astra is often asked, “What are best practices for developing a Supplier Diversity Program?”  Here are a few simple  recommendations:

Be committed. A diversity program can be part of your organization’s overall strategic plan. If you haven’t already done it, just add a diversity pledge to your company’s core values & mention it in the “About Us” section of your website.

Be Specific. Determine your level of commitment. As a WBENC WBE, you already are committed to diversity. Take a minute and document your goals as a part of your budgeting process.

Be Accountable. Do a quick review. You are probably already buying from diverse suppliers. Simply write down how you can capture, monitor & report your diversity spend. This is easy to  include in your policy & procedures handbook.

Be Visible. In addition, to displaying your WBENC badge, add a link to your diversity pledge & include “stories” in your company’s messaging. Remember to report your Done Deals or nominate your best customer for an “Advocacy Award” by completing the form below.

 

The Bottom-Line Benefits of Being WBENC Certified

Business is all about the bottom line. Fortunately, supporting women-owned businesses not only helps level the playing field and generates good will for a company, it also makes good business sense. By working with the women- owned business community, corporations gain access to a powerful market segment. Our corporate members tell us they’ve saved millions of dollars and become more effective marketers due to their relationships with women-owned business suppliers.

And how does that benefit the bottom-line of WBEs? Astra (WBENC) WBE, Mary Kariotis, President & CEO of Merrimak Capital recently reported that the company’s new business volume has increased more than 50 percent since last year.  “The dramatic spike in business is primarily a result of our heightened focus on Fortune 500 companies producing essential consumer products. Many of Merrimak Capital’s new investment grade clients were attracted to competitive rates, but also to the fact that the company is woman-owned.  As a result, Merrimak can meet vendor diversity compliance requirements.” Merrimark obtained WBENC certification in 2009. Merrimak serves equipment leasing and asset finance needs of public and private companies worldwide, spanning many growth industries.  Women’s Business Enterprise Certification makes it possible for Merrimark customers to qualify for Tier One Diversity Spend Credit.

Wondering how to get started? Check out our recent Webinar on how to use your WBENC certification in 2012.

Not sure which “BIG” companies to pursue? Start by visiting Astra’s Corporate Member’s web resources (Quick links are posted on our Corporate Membership Page.) to determine who you should be targeting. Each company is set up a little bit differently but offers an insight as to what drives diversity at their organization. Plan to meet  Corporate Representatives at an upcoming event.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Thank you for supporting women business enterprises. We look forward to partnering with you in 2012 to promote your company, build relationships and do more business.   To kick off the new year treat yourself, or a WBE you know, to a week to work on business. Plan to participate in our Trade Mission with Canada, February 29th – March 1st, in San Jose – matchmaking, sponsorships & EXPO opportunities are available.

Lynn Tilton, CEO of Patriarch Partners, will Deliver Keynote at Women-Owned Business Celebration

Lynn Tilton at Horasis Annual Meeting 2011


Astra Women’s Business Alliance (Astra) & a Regional Partner Organization (RPO) of the Women’s Enterprise National Council (WBENC) announced today that Lynn Tilton of Patriarch Partners will be the keynote speaker at Astra’s 16th Annual Workshops and Awards in San Francisco on July 25th, 2012. Patriarch Partners owns more than 70 companies throughout the country, many of them are certified as women-owned by WBENC through it’s network of RPOs.

Astra Women’s Business Alliance Astra Women’s Business Alliance was founded in 2000. Astra’s mission is to work proactively and cooperatively toward the elimination of marketplace barriers, such that women-owned businesses receive access to and fair consideration of programs and projects that fund business growth. Astra provides business skills training, team development and linkage to contract opportunities to women owned businesses throughout the northwest. (www.astrawba.org)

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), founded in 1997, is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned controlled, and operated by women in the United States. WBENC, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit, partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations to provide its national standard of certification to women-owned businesses throughout the country. WBENC  is also the nation’s leading advocate of women-owned businesses as suppliers to America’s corporations.(www.wbenc.org)

Plug In. Power Up. Initiative Launches.

Astra Women’s Business Alliance launched its “Plug In Power Up for 2011” Initiative this week designed to help women business owners increase job creation and economic development not only nationally but globally through access to contracts from major Fortune 1000 companies. The Initiative gives women business owners new tools, programs and events to help grow and expand business at home and around the world.

An official 2011 Kick-Off will be held July 19th-20th in Redmond, Washington, sponsored and hosted by Microsoft Corporation on the company’s campus.  Jane Applegate, The Applegate Group, author, newscaster from Bloomberg News, will be the keynote speaker at the Astra Women’s Business Alliance 15th Annual Workshop & Awards Luncheon on July 20th, sponsored by Microsoft, Chevron, AT&T and The Boeing Company.

On July 19th, the festivities will include networking events aboard a luxury boat cruise and an evening reception providing opportunities to meet International guests from Canada and executives from large women owned businesses and corporate executives.