Manchester Diversity Event Inspires Ethnic Minority Business Leaders


Manchester Diversity Event Inspires Ethnic Minority Business Leaders




Our first North-West region supplier diversity day took place last week and was a great success.

The Manchester Marriott Victoria & Albert Hotel was the venue for a fascinating panel discussion on doing business with large companies, followed by an excellent presentation from leading motivational speaker David McQueen.

Among our guests was Bipin Patel, Business Consultant at Guide Security, who made the short journey from Blackburn. Bipin came along to find out more about how MSDUK was helping to increase diversity in the supply chain and to meet others who have a clear commitment to diversity in procurement.

“I believe that diversity is one of the big pluses that this region has, but translating that to profitability is quite a steep journey. MSDUK is leading that charge. We’re here to find out how they’ve done that. People like Mayank have spent a lifetime overcoming some of these challenges and bringing down the barriers.”

Reet Dhallu, Lead Regional Membership Manager (GM North and South) at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, saw the day as a great way to help the chamber’s members and to network. “We’re partnering with MSDUK as they’re looking to raise their profile in the north,” she said. “It’s also of benefit to our members as it allows them to connect with other businesses in the area. It widens our membership and gives members the opportunity to connect with diverse businesses. I hope attendees make some useful connections with some of these corporate organizations.”


Our panel comprised some leading lights of the industry. Giving their words of wisdom were Nick Caton, Director of Procurement at Barclays; Aysha Kazi, CEO at Ark Talent; Azeem Khan, CEO at Gemini Group; Dennis Ford, International Sourcing Leader at Cummins; and Jason Black of Enterprise Holdings.

Nick gave some great advice on the opportunities in the public and private sectors. “Local authorities have social value policies in procurement and they can use that as part of their procedure,” he said. “In the private sector diversity is becoming more important. In Barclays, we have a very big supplier diversity program. We’re seeing a change where businesses are taking the diversity agenda more seriously because our customers want it. The commitment is real and that is flowing through into procurement processes, so take advantage because the time is now.”

The importance of networking was emphasized by Aysha, who said:

“It’s about relationship building and networks. You may be part of MSDUK and go to a conference that you think isn’t relevant, but everyone is connected to another person and they may know someone who has something for you. And once you have a relationship, maintain it.”



The discussion was followed by a fantastic presentation by David McQueen on creating the perfect pitch. David had lots of great advice for our guests: “As a business owner, you’re always pitching — to staff, customers and stakeholders, and even though things like blogs and networking. You’re talking about what you’re really passionate about, so concentrate on the human element. If you’re fired up, you’ll do a good job.” He also talked about the importance of really engaging with people: “If you can make people smile, you’ll take them on a journey.”

Bipin was impressed by the reach that the event achieved:

“I’ve just met someone who’s flown in from Budapest and I think that’s a remarkable journey — I’ve only come 20 miles! But I know that person will get so much more out of it because of the investment they put in.”

Also impressed was Godwin Anthony of Ascent Leadership. “I joined MSDUK a few months ago,” he said. “I’ve been to a few events and I’ve been blown away by the caliber of people and what they’re promoting — diversity in the workplace. It’s amazing.”

Thanks to everyone who came along to the event and, of course, our guest speakers. We hope everyone enjoyed themselves and we’re looking forward to our next supplier diversity day at EDF Energy in Croydon on Thursday 23 May. If you’d like to come along, click here.