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Supplier Diversity

NBC Universal calls on Logistic Solutions for ways to entertain

Even between competitors, “The important thing is working with other companies and having everyone benefit,” the supplier diversity director declares

Corey Smith of NBC Universal: sourcing products and services for the company and its theme parks.'More new businesses are started every day by diverse people and women,” says Corey Smith, director of supplier diversity for NBC Universal. “Couple that with the innovative ideas coming out of these new think tanks. As we look for new ways to entertain we have to be open to accepting these new ideas, and since we want our supplier base to mirror our customer base we need to be focused on diversity.”

Smith is part of the sourcing department at NBC Universal (New York, NY), reporting to the executive VP for sourcing. “We source products and services for the company, everything from IT to office products, construction and professional services,” he says. “We have sourcing professionals for each commodity area, from broadcast control room consoles to the usual back-office support of any company.”

But that’s not all. “We also source for NBC Universal’s theme parks,” Smith says. “That includes everything from food services to engineering and design companies.”

Some of these are enormous projects. Diverse suppliers also appear at the tier two or subcontractor level, Smith explains. “We have significant penetration by minority- and woman-owned businesses at those levels.”

About NBC Universal
NBC Universal, which is now a division of General Electric (GE, Fairfield, CT), operates news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, TV production operations and a TV station group, plus world-renowned theme parks.

The company has been a member of NMSDC for some time, Smith says, and joined WBENC last year. The company is active with both organizations’ regional affiliates in New York, Los Angeles and Orlando, FL.

“I am the go-to person for NMSDC and WBENC on the NBC Universal level, and I support both on the GE corporate level,” Smith notes with a smile. “I attend as many council meetings as I can, and since I basically work out of New York, I am affiliated with the NMSDC and WBENC partners for the NYC area. I support the LA and Orlando groups remotely.”

Reporting to sourcing
Of course, NBC Universal has an employee diversity group led by chief diversity officer Paula Madison. “We report our supplier diversity numbers and status updates to them,” Smith says. “It makes sense, since sourcing is the area that touches the vendors on a daily basis.”

Smith is in constant communication with the employee diversity group. “They support our endeavors and we support theirs. But in terms of where I need to fit, I need to be in sourcing, since that’s the group that works with the vendors, sends out the RFPs and so on.”

Building from scratch
NBC started in supplier diversity in 2000, Smith says. “When NBC and Universal merged in 2004, it meant taking what had been done and extrapolating it into the film industry, since Universal did not come with its own supplier diversity perspectives.”

Smith joined the company in 2006. “One of my first tasks was to re-imagine the supplier diversity process,” he says.

He started by establishing a baseline. “I had to put the numbers together and figure out where we needed to go. The numbers were there, but just not calculated.”

NBC Universal and GE also support the Tuck business program for MBE principals through NMSDC. “We sponsor a couple of CEOs to go to Tuck every year,” Smith says.

A different infrastructure
While NBC Universal is part of GE, its supplier diversity initiative is managed separately. “Our sourcing infrastructure from the RFP and bidding perspective is specific to the entertainment and media world, although it’s similar to the GE process. Our supplier diversity initiative, in many cases, focuses on different suppliers,” Smith explains.

“We need to be sensitive to our industry and continue to leverage relationships we have with other entertainment companies. Many of the other media and entertainment companies have great supplier diversity programs. We are competitors and peers at the same time, and we benchmark against each other for diversity best practices.

“Competition is secondary. The important thing is working with other companies and having everyone benefit,” Smith declares. “We actually encourage each other. We want to know that a diverse supplier has experience in the field and has worked with a company comparable in scale and size to NBC Universal.”

And, of course, sometimes it’s about who you know, he thinks. “That’s why it’s important for us as supplier diversity professionals to be internal advocates for companies we feel could provide a quality product.”

Certification and onward
NBC Universal offers an online registration portal for prospective diverse suppliers. “You can self-certify but you must get third-party certification within a year,” Smith says. MBE, WBE and veteran-owned certifications are accepted.

“In 2007, NBC’s CEO Jeff Zucker named diversity one of five strategic imperatives for NBC Universal,” Smith explains. “On the workforce side, we aim to recruit and retain a wide variety of people, and from the supplier diversity perspective everyone knows the demographics of the population are changing.

“As we look for new ways to entertain we have to be open to accepting new ideas from all parts of the population. A supplier base that mirrors our customer base can help us do that.

“I feel,” Smith says, “there is a clear connection between a supplier diversity initiative and the success of a company.”

Meet Logistic Solutions
Logistic Solutions (Piscataway, NJ) is an MBE specializing in several IT-related areas plus info security. In 2008 NBC Universal brought in Logistic Solutions to provide IT staffing and more.

“I introduced the company at NBC Universal,” Smith explains. “I knew Logistic Solutions from a previous job. And it’s deeply involved with NMSDC, always a good sign.”

Today the company is a tier two supplier with NBC Universal, under a temporary staffing contract NBC Universal has with Agile 1, another diverse company. Logistic Solutions president Al Limaye “has great contacts, great associations,” Smith says. “He’s been able to leverage the outsourcing corporate America does to improve his own business. He’s continued to diversify and he’s innovative, going from IT staffing to digital media and animation while still operating in the IT world. He has carved out nice niches while growing the business.”

Many lines of business
Logistic Solutions’ Limaye explains that the company has several basic lines of business: software for info security, access control, ERP and RFID integration, consulting in these areas, plus very high-tech animation technology.

This, Limaye notes, is very good for business. “These days a large company wants a supplier that can come into many areas. They want to do more business with fewer companies. And we think we can fill that bill for NBC Universal and others.”

Al Limaye grows the company
Logistic Solutions’ Al Limaye is very much a techie. He’s an ME by trade, with an MS in ME and one in CS.

“After I completed my MSCS I was hired by GE Consulting, and at the same time I was working as a consultant for Bell Labs, and running my own company, as its one employee.

“In 1993 a couple more people came on board at my company, and we grew our client base and eventually became a Microsoft Gold Partner; we are actually the only minority partner for Microsoft Surface, the new user interface.”

Logistic Solutions is active with NMSDC and WBENC affiliates, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas, the Rainbow Coalition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more. “I participate with all the big minority business associations,” Limaye says.

The company today
Logistic Solutions has more than 400 people in the U.S. today, with about the same number overseas. “The overseas staff are mostly in India, but we also have a training venture in China,” Limaye says. And on a smaller scale, the company is doing a joint venture with a service-disabled vet company in New Jersey. “The introduction was made by NMSDC and we think it’s a win, win, win in every way.”


NBC Universal.

Logistic Solutions Inc.

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