WBENC plans another Opportunity Connection
The 2011 National Conference and Business Fair in Las Vegas this June will feature a series of workshops, some covering new guidelines for government contracting
For the second year in a row the theme and title of WBENC's National Conference and Business Fair is "The Opportunity Connection."
"This theme truly conveys what the conference is all about: providing opportunities for our corporate members and women's business enterprises to meet and pursue business," says Pamela Prince-Eason, the new president and CEO of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC, Washington, DC).
As always, the other key opportunity for attendees is access to knowledge and expertise on the trends and issues facing the business environment today.
WBENC certifies businesses as being at least 51 percent owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women.
It happens in Vegas
The 2011 conference will take place in Las Vegas, NV at the Mandalay Bay hotel and convention center. New this year is a series of workshops that include sessions on the newly issued federal guidelines on government contracting.
WBENC expects as many as 400 exhibitors and more than 3,000 attendees. The event will have the special support of the Women's Business Enterprise Council-West, one of fourteen WBENC regional partner organizations and the 2011 host council. International guests will be part of the mix, with the largest contingent coming from Canada.
Four workshop tracks
"WBENC will have its first-time attendee orientation to help new conference attendees effectively connect with corporations throughout the conference and business fair," says Cristy McCullough, WBENC VP for marketing, communications and brand management. "WBENC corporate members tell us that this session is beneficial to them because it helps to prepare women's businesses for more meaningful and productive conversations."
A full-day business fair
The business fair provides opportunities for leaders in supplier diversity and procurement to introduce themselves and their companies to WBEs. This full-day event maximizes networking opportunities for everyone. Both WBEs and large corporations looking for potential suppliers exhibit at the fair.
The event kicks off with keynote speaker Annie Duke, a professional poker player and one of the few women on the poker circuit. Duke often speaks about strategy, leadership and risk-taking and how they apply to business.
The other keynote speaker is Soledad O'Brien, a CNN anchor and correspondent who is savvy in many different areas, including diversity and women's issues in the media and the workplace.
Amgen is a co-chair
"We are really pleased to be co-chairing this event," says Farryn Melton, VP of global strategic sourcing at biotechnology company Amgen (Thousand Oaks, CA). "At Amgen, we are champions of diversity in both our supply chain and our workforce, and WBENC is doing great things to advance women-owned businesses." Amgen is a corporate member of WBENC and Melton is a board member. Amgen is also active in NMSDC, VAMBOA and NAWBO, and Melton is on the board of NMSDC as well as WBENC.
This is the company's first year as co-chair of the WBENC national conference. "It was the right time for us to do this," Melton notes. "This will be WBENC's twelfth annual conference event and it's being held on the West Coast, which is great for us!"
Melton is involved in planning and implementation of the conference and is also a key speaker. "I'll talk about how WBOs can globalize and add value to their customer base in doing so," she says.
Amgen will be an important exhibitor at the business fair. Wendy Matheu, Amgen's supplier diversity liaison officer, will be at the event looking for likely suppliers.
The starting roadmap
Melton suggests that WBE attendees lay out a roadmap ahead of time. "Use workshops to network, get business cards and follow up by completing the online potential supplier registration process; look at small companies as well as large ones.
"Everything is an opportunity. Think about who you might partner with to provide services with more global appeal. And be sure you know your key messages when you get there."
Nicole Loftus of Zorch: WBE co-chair
Nicole Loftus is the other WBE co-chair for the conference this year. She is CEO, president and founder of Zorch (Chicago, IL), an exclusive supplier of branded merchandise to some of the largest corporations in the world; Zorch is a co-sponsor of the conference.
Loftus founded Zorch in 2002 and has already changed the way the $20 billion a year branded merchandise industry operates. Loftus will be on a discussion panel with Amgen's Melton and Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder of the Act 1 Group, a talent and technology company. At the conference itself, she's hoping to make contact with some likely Fortune 200 companies.
WBENC expects to top 11,000 certifications this year. And it's working to become an approved third-party certifier for the Small Business Administration's women-owned business contracting program.
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