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August/September 2011

Diversity/Careers August/September 2011 Issue




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WBEs in technology
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Regional roundup
Supplier diversity


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Supplier Diversity

Consolidated Edison works with Donnelly & Moore

"Con Edison gives a lot," declares the happy vendor. "They open up their offices for events and seminars and invite vendors to participate"


A supplier diversity program has been in place at Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc (New York, NY), an investor-owned energy company, for three decades. It's growing steadily and gaining in strength.

"The program really has some teeth in it," says Joy Crichlow, director of supplier diversity at Con Edison and Orange and Rockland Utilities. And she should know: Crichlow, an integral part of the program, has been on the job for twenty-five years. She has also taught part time as an adjunct professor at various city colleges while working at Con Edison.

"Initially Con Edison saw the program as a way to include people who had always been excluded," Crichlow says. "We made a special effort to reach out to the community of business people and identify diverse suppliers. The New York/New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council (NY/NJ MSDC) worked as a bridge to qualified MBE vendors."

Vendor development
Today's program is focused on relatively new areas like green initiatives. Crichlow's people are looking for green vendors in all areas, not just those in IT and construction. Con Edison is involved with the Women Presidents' Educational Organization (WPEO), Professional Women in Construction, the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Westchester and Rockland Counties, the Asian American Business Development Center, and Asian Women in Business; all good venues to seek out minority suppliers.

Vendor development is an important element of the program. "I'm trying to drive efforts to make sure our vendors grow at Con Edison," Crichlow says. "When I get them qualified and working with our purchasing people I go on to recommend them to city organizations like the Small Business Program and school construction. It helps their reputation to be working with us."

About 20 percent of the company spend on goods, services and fuel goes to MBEs and WBEs; last year Con Edison spent more than $307 million with diverse suppliers. Crichlow notes that the high percentage is the result of a strong effort put into outreach.

"Our public affairs department does an excellent job of advertising and reaching out to our communities using business magazines and newspapers. We also invite our vendors to workshops at regional meetings like the WPEO and the NY/NJ MSDC conferences. Some of these events bring out hundreds of attendees," she says.

Con Edison accepts certifications from WBENC, NMSDC and city and state agencies, and also has its own certification process.

There's currently a drive to expand the program to include more WBEs. Lore de la Bastide, VP of purchasing for Con Edison, is supporting this effort. Last year, Crichlow notes, the program recruited forty new vendors: twenty-eight ethnic minorities and twelve women. "Of these vendors, twelve actually got contracts the first year, although sometimes it takes new vendors several years to win a bid," Crichlow says.

The money spent on MBEs and WBEs in the community plays an important role in the local economy. "The more we spend and the more business we give to minorities and women, the greater the employment in the community. It gives us great satisfaction. It's feeding families and is a great help to the City of New York."

Donnelly & Moore does IT staff augmentation
Eileen Guzzo started Donnelly & Moore Corp (New York, NY), an IT staff augmentation company, in 1997. At first she was the only employee.

"I did system conversions and upgrades, and in the beginning it involved a lot of hardcore cold calling, networking and marketing to make the business grow," Guzzo says.

Business took off when she got into the financial industry in the late 1990s, but 9/11 nearly destroyed her business, among many others, as most of her clients were in lower Manhattan. "I had to start again from scratch, and what a tragic way to learn that I should have tried to diversify my client base," she says.

Starting over, Guzzo went after business with the city and state and worked on getting certified as a WBE and an MBE. Donnelly & Moore is now categorized as an 8(a) business by the Small Business Administration and also as a small disadvantaged business.

"It gets your foot in the door," Guzzo says. "The certifications helped us get Con Edison as a client. I saw an ad on my utility bill and contacted them. They took me by the hand and helped us a lot."

In 2004 and 2005 Donnelly & Moore made a successful bid against several larger companies to develop new apps for Orange and Rockland Utilities. The company developed IT architecture for a large project involving new construction, and after that the relationship between the two companies flourished. "We've placed well over fifty consultants with them since," says Guzzo.

Guzzo is originally from Patagonia in Argentina. She came to the U.S. at the age of eighteen and put herself through college, completing a BA in public relations at Hunter College (New York, NY) in 1995 and picking up technical skills along the way as she worked for several companies. "I had a lot of training in various technologies, from design-and-build in telecom to IT," she says.

Providing value-added service
Guzzo notes that Con Edison is an anchor account for her company, and she always strives to bring added value to the services she provides for the utility. "We are very receptive to our customers," she says. "I am one of the primary salespeople, I'm intimately involved in most of the company's operations, and I'm one hundred percent dedicated and absolutely hands-on."

"Con Edison gives a lot," Guzzo declares. They open their offices for events and seminars and invite vendors to participate. I meet a lot of powerful people at these events and see other opportunities and potential clients. This relationship has given us the chance to engage with other Fortune 500 companies!"

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