Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nestlé Promotes eLearning at the 2012 NMSDC Conference


By Nadine Bartholomew

This week, over 7,000 top corporate representatives, minority businesses, civic leaders and members of the media converged at the Colorado Convention Center to participate in the four-day National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Conference and Business Opportunity Fair.

The theme of this conference was “Minority Businesses and Corporate America: Advancing Minority Suppliers in the Global Supply Chain” and in keeping with this theme, Karen Blackwell, Manger of Supplier Diversity and Development for Nestlé Business Services, facilitated an eLearning session for suppliers from the show floor of the Business Opportunity Fair, and co-hosted the annual networking reception of NMSDC’s Food and Beverage Industry Group (the Group).

As the chairperson of the Group, Blackwell exemplifies her company’s commitment to having a diverse supplier base and to utilizing minority, woman and veteran-owned suppliers across every aspect of its business. During the eLearning session, Blackwell shared information about the online tool Nestlé uses to educate potential suppliers about its supplier diversity program and highlighted how this interactive feature allows registered users to explore where their products and/or services may fit best within the different operating companies of Nestlé USA.

The Good Foodie caught up with Blackwell after the Group’s networking reception at the History Colorado Center in Denver, and asked her to comment on how Nestlé is working with minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) to help them embrace and maximize the potential of new technologies.

To learn more click on the video below or visit their website at suppliers.nestleusa.com


Nadine Bartholomew is a freelance writer for MBE magazine. Visit her website at www.thegoodfoodie.org

Monday, October 22, 2012

Statement on Fisher v. University of Texas

Dr. Gail C. Christopher
Vice President for Program Strategy
W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments [last] week on why the University of Texas should be allowed to continue applying an admissions policy that helps create a diverse student body, one that is representative of the state’s growing multi-racial communities. At the private, independent W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), our work calls for healing the profound gaps and inequities that exist in our country, and places the health, education and well-being of children at the center of all we do. Thus, we steadfastly support college admission policies that identify qualified students of all races and also consider their academic achievements, leadership, racial and ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status and athletic or artistic talent among other qualities.  

Often this process is called affirmative action, a term that has become far too ambiguous and divisive in American society. It’s critical for our Supreme Court justices to look beyond the loaded wording to consider the immense value in providing educational opportunities for young people from diverse communities.  In many ways, America’s future is at stake.
The population of the United States is swiftly moving towards majority minority.  For America to stay strong, we must be competitive in the world. And that competitiveness begins with education.  We must continue to nurture the best and the brightest at our colleges and universities. But the nation must recognize there may be a brilliant future physicist living in a Baltimore row house, a skilled mathematician being raised by parents who pick grapes in Napa Valley or a Native American child on a reservation in New Mexico who has what it takes to be a savvy military leader. 

There is a shared national interest in providing educational opportunities. We are building a stronger America when young people from different backgrounds and perspectives interact and learn from each other in an educational setting. This better prepares our future leaders to represent America’s interests around the globe, where the ability to relate to different cultures is vital to achieving success in a global economy as well as in national security and keeping our communities safe.

The University of Texas, like other colleges and universities, seems to recognize that some of our brilliant young people are filled with boundless potential, but these students and their families are facing daily obstacles ranging from poverty to unconscious and implicit bias evident in education, health, housing, employment and other aspects of society.  Admissions policies, such as those at the University of Texas, provide opportunities for young people to overcome these challenges.         

WKKF applauds the University of Texas for striving to create a diverse student body, for helping ensure that there are opportunities for qualified students of all races and ethnicities to excel and make contributions to their communities and this nation.  We urge the Supreme Court to uphold their right to do so.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Women Entrepreneurs: Despite Fear and Doubt, It’s Time to Get Started



By Tom Cleveland

In the world of entrepreneurs, if a “glass ceiling” ever existed for women, it was shattered long ago, together with any other demeaning cliches that suggested that other activities were more worthy of your focus.  Despite the many challenges that women face, studies continue to show that women are better at multitasking and getting things done at a quality level that most men would consider unnecessary or unattainable.  

Learn from Mentors that Have Gone Before You

It is no wonder then that many women, given half a chance, are excelling in the business world right and left.  Fortune Magazine is not surprised by this trend in women entrepreneurship and has chosen to acknowledge it annually by publishing their list of the “Top Ten” standouts for the year.  In 2012, their “winners” were selected from over 133 contestants, chosen not only for their individual performances, but also because these female entrepreneurs were “outstanding game changers, ground breakers, and innovators.” 

Did these top performers agonize over fear and doubt in the early going?  Were they conflicted by the demands from family and by the desire to please everyone?  Were they afraid that they would never be taken seriously?  Of course they were, but in each of their stories, there are “pearls of wisdom” that every female “business warrior wannabe” should take to heart from these worthy examples of success in today’s marketplace.  There are no shortcuts for experience, but accepting the guidance from “mentors” is the best way to make up for shortcomings in this area.

Lesson One: You Must Have Passion According to Jessica Alba

Although known more for her acting career, Jessica Alba has worked tirelessly on the side co-founding her own eco-friendly products company, The Honest Co.  Her focus has been on selling chemical-free diapers, wipes, cleaning products, and more.  She seems to have found her passion in this industry by joining a cause and leveraging her many contacts, including Healthy World author Christopher Gavigan, LegalZoom.com, ShoeDazzle.com founder Brian Lee, and former PriceGrabber.com VP Sean Kane.

Investors have also been impressed, too, contributing $27 million to fund her “passion”.  “It was important to me to that The Honest Company have a cause component as part of its DNA, engage in environmentally sound practices, and actively communicate with our customer base to deliver the eco-friendly products they most desire all under one roof,” adds Ms. Alba.  Choose a mission statement that moves you and stirs your emotions.

Lesson Two: Learn to be Flexible from Christiane Lemieux’s Example

One key factor for success in the business world is flexibility.  One must be forever willing to accept what the market gives and be willing to adapt to take advantage of new circumstances.  Changing your direction or product definition is to be expected and embraced.  Christiane Lemieux graduated from Parson's School of Design and spent the last twelve years building trend-setting surface designs for home goods in the fashion of a modern Pottery Barn.  She recently opened her own store in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood.  “I made the mistake very early on of saying yes to everything and I lost some good years of growth." Lemieux advises, "Say yes to the opportunities that grow the business and no to the ones that are clearly a distraction."

Lesson Three: Learn Persistence from Rashimi Sinha’s Example

While adapting to market forces is one worthy trait, persistence is required to see the process all the way to conclusion.  In the case of Rashimi Sinha, she actually migrated from her degree in psychology to work in the software development industry.  After many other attempts, her newest venture, SlideShare, allows users to share presentations on the Internet.  "Being an entrepreneur is hard. So many nights you go to sleep thinking about a problem that seems intractable, but you get up the next day, refreshed, and attack the problem with renewed vigor," says Ms. Sinha. Her persistence was rewarded when her firm was recently acquired for a reputed $119 million.

Conclusion

No one ever said that becoming an entrepreneur is easy, but learn from the examples of those that have gone before you.  It’s now time to get started!  Good Luck!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Your Job Title on Business Cards: Does it Still Carry Weight?


Today's companies are requiring more multi-skilled workers who can fit different company roles for different business situations. These workers are often called 'generalists'. Generalists are seen as workers who can do a lot of things and may be really useful employees to grow into a certain role down the line.
One coding engineer in Silicon Valley recently wrote about this very topic and how it can bring good benefits to companies. "Companies need to understand the value of someone who can figure out how to do new tasks, not just hire people who can do the tasks already identified," he wrote. "Every company has people who they hired to do particular things because they can do them. The spectacular companies also have a large percentage of individuals who thrive on taking on new challenges and exploring new frontiers."
In startups, this is especially true, as many job roles and job titles are flexible in the early days, and everyone is expected to pitch in where and when they can. Overnight coding session? No problem! Finalize the app process on Saturday? Sure! Today's multi-skilled workers seem tailor made to helping to bring down traditional job hierarchy.
However, as workers grow into their roles, certain aspects of jobs are required by workers in an organization. Here are a few ways that employers can help to grow recognition toward employees.
Pro Job Titles
Most employees want to have solid, professional job titles, not the kind associated with Web startups like "Top Marketing Hondo" and "Big Code Dog." While these may be hilarious in the early days for those workers, having a title like that may not get you a foot into your next job.
You want a job title that not only accurately describes the work you're employed to do, but also a title that reflects your rank and seniority within the organization. Stick with well-constructed and descriptive job titles for employees, that clearly designates these attributes.
Good Business Cards
It doesn't cut it enough anymore to expect to have your own employees print business cards online. Employees now expect a business card that's professional with a company's logo, website, name, job title, email and social media contacts. Even if your job doesn't involve a lot of networking professionally, the cards you can distribute to friends and colleagues in a social setting can perhaps lead to a business contract for your company in the long term.
Business cards also give a sense of identity to workers. If a firm is without business cards, it can lead to fewer opportunities to connect when outside the office. it also lessens a business's marketing presence to be without business cards.
Identifying Cross-Departmental Skills
If your company does indeed hire multi-skilled generalists who can adapt to other work situations, then set up a cross-department knowledge transfer system. Have these generalists move temporarily to other departments to learn how that department's work translates into the overall company mission. It can be an eye-opening experience for the worker, and a helpful addition of new eyes and ears to the other department.
Using aspects of professionalism from larger companies can be a bonus to new employees at smaller companies. Consider some of the tips above in your own company.


Anthony Thomas comes from a long line of small business owners. Growing up in the Topeka area, his family operated a small chain of fast-food restaurants. He studied business management and works as a consultant and freelance writer.