MSDUK weather the Storm at first Meet The Buyer of the Year


Fiona Hynds, Events and Marketing Manager rounds up our latest Meet The Buyer event in London

As MSDUK events go, I am positive, and I am sure that the rest of the MSDUK team will agree, that February’s Meet The Buyer at the Grange Hotel in London was anything but plain sailing- in fact, it was more or less rough waters.

The pressure was already on for me to help deliver the same high quality event that our network is used to, and as this was my first hands-on event, I was determined to please.

Just days before the event, planning was a breeze; the meeting matrix was perfected, individual schedules were scrutinised and set and all last minute issues were dealt with. However, come the morning of February 23rd, it was very clear that a storm (Doris) was brewing.

Not an hour into the working day, Storm Doris was already causing chaos to the national rail-lines and MSDUK phone lines- suppliers and buyers from the other end of the country frantically called, claiming to be stuck in their office or stranded at train stations; in addition, our team was preparing to face our own very frustrating trip into London.

Despite our best efforts (even attempting to sardine pile into a replacement service at Wellingborough because of a fallen tree on the tracks) myself and two other team members didn’t make it to the event.

The forecast at that point was not looking good; however, thanks to the determination of our devoted network members and our CEO Mayank and Malvika, the only two members of MSDUK who made it to the capital, we had one of our best Meet The Buyers yet.

See how our February 2017 Meet The Buyer compares to our final one of 2016 in November:

infographics feb 201 vs nov 2016

New Look 

2017 introduced our new look Meet The Buyer, which extended invitation to all suppliers and buyers in all industries, as opposed to quarterly industry specific events. The change provides more opportunities for both businesses and corporates to network and build relationships across industries, and of course, give each business more opportunities throughout the year to take part in the event.

Although Gibbs Hybrid Workforce Solutions, formally Gibbs S3, have been a member of our network since 2015, Senior Legal Counsel Punam Tiwari attended for the first time and was delighted to have made it to the event.

“For me, the event went above and beyond my expectations. I had expected to go along, meet people and come away with a few contacts that may or may not be useful with regard to my service offering. Instead, I met Harish Bhayani from PRM Diversity Consultants by chance and I explained to him what I do and what I was looking to achieve with my service offering. We parted ways. He then came back to me and told me that he wanted to introduce someone to me that was independent of himself that he felt would be interested in my offering. He introduced me to Jagjit Singh from In-Form Consult and we have since been in contact with a view to me forming part of his tender to provide my offering to one of his clients.”

In addition, this year, we have also added training workshops and seminars for businesses and corporates alike to take place in the morning and, combined, the sessions welcomed just under 30 delegates for 2 hours of knowledge, Q&As and interactive workshops.  To kick off the Business Development Workshop, our CEO Mayank was temporarily promoted to Vice President of International Procurement of Wyndham Worldwide and took over the Business Relationship seminar when Gurvinder Patara was unable to attend. Nathan Lovegrove, Sales Director from the closed the session with the dangers of ‘vanilla pitching’ and gave a concise step by step guide on winning corporate business.

In regards to the business training workshops, Antje Derks, Head of Content, PR & Communications at Gibbs Hybrid said: “The business workshop was really interesting and I loved the fact that it was interactive – we had an interesting debate and really learned from each other.”

At the same time across the hall, Harish Bhayani, CEO of PRM Diversity Consultants, delivered an interactive Business Case workshop to corporate attendees, helping them to understand the key requisites, common pitfalls and increasing business case for Supplier Diversity.

New Faces

While it is great to see familiar faces at our events, it is even better to see new faces; at this Meet The Buyer, there was a higher number of EMB and corporate attendees available to network with during the 1-2-1 meeting, ultimately resulting in a few new network members!

The Cheeky Panda manufacture sustainable and affordable luxury tissue paper products from bamboo; they attended our event, initially interested in an opportunity to meet buyers and find out more about MSDUK. Their presence was welcomed and certainly noticed- they wore Panda hats to match their branding- and at a time when minimising carbon footprint is a top agenda for business, Chris Forbes, Director at Cheeky Panda, believed that it was the right time to introduce their product.

“We attended the MSDUK network on recommendation from one of the account managers at ISS.  There was a lot of useful information about how to engage with the buyers, what they are looking for and how to stand out. We focussed on our ultra-sustainable angle and the fact we are now carbon neutral so it was great to know that this was another major plus point.”

The Cheeky Panda are already enjoying the benefits of attending our event; they are already looking to work with one of our corporate members on some strategic accounts that have low carbon initiatives.

“We decided to join MSDUK as it is engaging with big brands and it’s a great opportunity to showcase our bamboo tissue innovation.  It’s a very well run business and we liked the focus and energy.  We are looking forward to future events and to meet and network with other group members.”

On that note, we are looking forward to holding our next Meet The Buyer event at the Hilton Hotel in Leicester. With a cyber security workshop led by InfoSec team experts in IT security in the morning and more opportunity to attend 1-2-1 meetings and network in the afternoon, come rain or shine, we will be there- and we hope you will be also!

Gibbs Hybrid Workforce Solutions announces first ever partnership with Barclays Employability Programme

Gibbs Hybrid Workforce Solutions, an international technology and digital workforce management solutions business head-quartered in Surrey UK – has forged a significant partnership with Barclays Citizenship team and Catch 22. All three parties have worked closely together over the past year to allow Gibbs to become the first ever partner to sign up to the Barclays Employability Programme – Connect with Work.

Barclays Connect with Work is a unique UK-based employability programme connecting individuals seeking employment with recruiting corporates. The programme is aimed at supporting individuals aged 16+ with the aptitude and attitude to enter the workplace, but who face barriers to doing so. The programme helps to upskill these individuals, as well as helping them to connect with businesses who are recruiting. The programme additionally supports high-growth businesses and entrepreneurs, including clients and suppliers, to create entry-level jobs.

Gibbs pioneered a solution that sees investments ploughed back into the community to enrich young people’s lives by working closely with Catch 22 to give apprentices the start in life they need. The initiative offers real experience and integration into a team, allowing apprentices to flourish and make a real difference to the business, while supporting them to gain a nationally recognised qualification.

Farida Gibbs, CEO of Gibbs comments: “Here at Gibbs, innovation is a core part of who we are. We asked ourselves how we could support Barclays’ Shared Growth Ambition, part of which is to help people get back into work as well as benefitting the wider community. It made sense to me to find a way of reviewing investments to help Barclays achieve its citizenship programme aims and aspirations”.

Since the launch Gibbs have managed to hire several apprentices from the Catch 22 programme who are now embedded into the business and are receiving the continual support and mentoring required to ensure they have a great start with their careers.

Farida Gibbs, says: “Gibbs are so proud to be the pioneers of this scheme – we have turned a passionate dream into reality by using the initiative to really make a difference to people’s lives – upholding our own core values as well as those of the Barclays Citizenship Programme”.

Meghan Sheehan, Head of Investing, UK Citizenship, Barclays Citizenship & Reputation comments: “The commitment, leadership and willingness to collaborate that Gibbs Hybrid Workforce Solutions have shown means we are now in a position to focus on setting up the tools and processes to scale the programme in 2017. Our hope is to have over 1,000 individuals matched to jobs with our clients and suppliers. Gibbs have been pivotal in our successful launch of Connect with Work and I hope that more suppliers will follow their lead.”


Bristol-Myers Sqibb sponsors MSDUK Certified Supplier Contracts IT to attend Tuck Business School business residential programme


bms supplier diversity day


Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) is a global BioPharma company firmly focused on its mission to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines to patients with serious diseases. BMS has a firm commitment to the highest standards of business integrity and ethics and recognise that diverse talents and perspectives are vital to achieve success. It is the policy of BMS to actively seek to include small and diverse suppliers in their strategic sourcing and procurement processes. Its supplier diversity programme not only gives equal opportunities to diverse-owned businesses to become suppliers to BMS but also invests in their development and growth through business school scholarships to deserving minority/ women-owned business.

Tuck Business School in the USA has been delivering minority business development programmes for over 35 years and has helped thousands of minority-owned businesses, through their world class week long residential programmes, build a strong, high performing business and also assist them in scaling up to become global business enterprises.

At the recent launch of their Global Supplier Diversity Programme in the UK, Bristol-Myers Squibb awarded two scholarships worth $10k , one to a MSDUK Certified Ethnic Minority Business and another to a WeConnect Certified Women-owned Business to attend these week long residential business development programme.

We are proud to announce that Contracts IT, a long standing MSDUK certified business, was the one awarded this scholarship.  Another benefit of being a MSDUK Certified business. Everyone at MSDUK congratulates Naheed Afzal for this scholarship and wishes her good luck for the programme!


Breaking News:

Bristol-Myers Squibb has also offered scholarship to MSDUK CEO, Mayank Shah to attend two residential programmes at Tuck Business School, first focussing on ‘Building a High Performing Minority Business’ and second one focussing on ‘Growing the Minority Business to Scale’. Thanking BMS for this generous sponsorship, Mayank Shah, CEO, stated, ‘ As MSDUK starts implementing its 2020 growth plan and expansion into Europe, attending these two residential programmes at a world class business school will truly help refine the plans and develop a clear strategy to take MSDUK to the next level’. All of us at MSDUK would like to thank Rondu Vincent, Director, Supplier Diversity at Bristol-Myers Squibb for his support in awarding these scholarships.




Government-backed review calls for firms to publish a breakdown of their workforce

Baroness McGregor-SmithThe report by Baroness McGregor-Smith said the economy could receive a £24bn annual boost if businesses stamped out ethnic inequality. It found that people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds were still often disadvantaged at work.

But the government has ruled out legislation on such a breakdown, opting for a voluntary approach instead. The review found that employment rates amongst people from BME backgrounds were 12% lower than for white counterparts.

One of her main recommendations was legislation to make firms with more than 50 workers publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and by how much they are paid. The report stated that firms should draw up five-year diversity targets and nominate a board member to deliver them. Baroness McGregor-Smith wants to see diversity as part of public procurement guidelines and her report claims that tackling barriers to progression could boost GDP by 1.3%.

The report also highlighted unconscious bias as being more pervasive. Only 74 FTSE 100 companies replied to her call for data for the report. Last year the Equality and Human Rights Commission said that the life chances for young minority ethnic people were “the most challenging for generations”.

To read the full report, click here


Refugees turned entrepreneurs: ‘I needed to think about the future’

 Edin Basic, co-founder of Firezza pizza company arrived in London in the 1990s as a refugee from Bosnia.

Edin Basic, co-founder of Firezza pizza company arrived in London in the 1990s as a refugee from Bosnia.

It was nearly five years ago when Razan Alsous fled Syria with her husband and three children and arrived in Huddersfield with all their belongings squeezed into one suitcase. Ambitious and determined to carve out a new, and better, life, Alsous sought to find a job. But despite her scientific background and pharmacy degree, it was a massive battle; companies demanded references and a history of working in the UK that she simply didn’t have.

To read the rest of this article, click here