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October/November 2011

Diversity/Careers October/November 2011 Issue




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Supplier Diversity

PepsiCo is taking MBEs & WBEs to the next level

M/WBE SHI International, for example, has PepsiCo as a top customer. "They have contributed significantly to our growth," says an SHI manager


At PepsiCo (Purchase, NY), Ricardo Barrientos, supplier diversity senior director, is a thirteen-year veteran. He has spent his entire PepsiCo career in procurement.

PepsiCo is, of course, the food and beverage giant with a portfolio of billion-dollar brands like Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola.

Barrientos took over the company's supplier diversity program in February 2011, reporting directly to the chief procurement officer. His focus, he explains, is to build on PepsiCo's history of supplier diversity.

According to Barrientos, "The common theme now in supplier diversity is 'sustainability.' Basically, how do companies develop a minority supplier from a $10 million business, for example, to a $100 million business?"

Part of the chain since '81
PepsiCo's supplier diversity program began in 1981 to make sure the supply chain reflected the company's customer base and the local community.

PepsiCo's supplier diversity officials rely on the corporation's ethnic advisory boards to provide external viewpoints. And they partner with local and national organizations who advocate for minority- and women-owned businesses as suppliers to America's corporations.

In fact, PepsiCo was one of the original supporters of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and an early supporter of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). Today PepsiCo is a corporate member of both NMSDC and WBENC at local and national levels, as well as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAAC). Execs from PepsiCo also participate on NMSDC and WBENC boards.

Working in hard times
Each year PepsiCo spends more than a billion dollars with minority- and women-owned businesses. According to Barrientos, "Every year that dollar amount has increased, even during tough economic times.

"During these difficult times, we try to help diverse suppliers directly by supporting WBENC scholarships for business owners to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. And we require our large suppliers to have supplier diversity programs and to accept NMSDC, WBENC and state and federal agency certification," stimulating subcontracting opportunities for M/WBEs.

The company uses a variety of strategies to locate diverse businesses, including networking events at the local, regional and national levels as well as WBENC and NMSDC resources. MBEs and WBEs can proactively register to become PepsiCo suppliers through its Web portal.

SHI International: from regional reseller to global IT provider
Founded in 1989 as Software House International, SHI International (Somerset, NJ) has transformed itself from a $1 million regional software reseller into a $3 billion-plus global provider of IT products and services. Thai Lee, SHI president and CEO, was recently named one of the top 100 female executives by the computer reseller trade publication CRN magazine.

The company has grown from a three-person office to more than 1,600 employees in twenty-six offices across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France and Hong Kong. SHI is the largest M/WBE in the U.S. and one of the hundred largest privately-owned companies in America.

SHI maintains its competitive edge by keeping abreast of the changing computing paradigm, and maintaining long-term relationships with its customers and partners. "Thai Lee has opened a new industrial-grade cloud computing center in New Jersey, and is working with partners like VMWare, Cisco, HP and Microsoft to expand our enterprise solution offerings," says Romance Watson, who has been with SHI since 1994. As SHI's diversity business development manager, Watson works with supplier diversity programs at PepsiCo and other companies.

SHI acquired PepsiCo as a client a decade ago, Watson reports, and by 2010 PepsiCo was one of SHI's top twenty customers. "They have contributed significantly to our growth," he notes.

Suppliers bring value
SHI is a Corporate Plus member of the NMSDC and involved in all thirty local councils. It's also a sponsor of the USPAAC and certified by the California Public Utilities Commission. The company is working on its WBENC certification as well.

Diversity certifications are a recent focus for SHI. "We really only started looking at ourselves as a minority supplier about eight years ago; quality service is our first consideration," says Watson.

Barrientos adds that PepsiCo always looks at the quality of the work first. "All our suppliers, minority and non-minority, have to bring value to our business," he declares.

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