By Robin E. Beaman, Beaman Incorporated
The last several years have been challenging from many entrepreneurs. Those that survived the Great Recession, did so with determination and the support of corporate partners committed to supplier diversity. Allstate is one such company. They consistently provide business opportunities to entrepreneurs and create access for us to develop second tier partnerships with their larger vendors. The Allstate Supplier Diversity Exchange is an established and highly effective initiative that has proved very helpful for my business.
I have been attending the Exchange since 2008. It is an excellent way to meet senior level Allstate leadership including the chairman, president and CEO Thomas J. Wilson. It is an all-day event full of engaging speakers, panel discussions, one-on-one interviews with Allstate decisions-makers and meaningful networking opportunities with other Allstate suppliers.
Participating in the Allstate Supplier Diversity Exchange over the past two years enabled me to develop and nurture my newly formed relationships. It also gave me the opportunity to demonstrate I was seriously interested in doing business with them, and committed to providing value to the company. I found a strong advocate in Margaret Klinsport, Director of Supplier Diversity, who provided guidance and insights that have proved invaluable.
My determination was rewarded shortly after I attended my third Exchange in 2010. The Integrated Marketing Communications team selected my firm to develop and implement a national public relations campaign for the “Quotes for Education” program – Allstate’s philanthropic program to award scholarships for college students. Our success created a solid foundation that positioned me to pursue other business opportunities within the company.
During last year’s Allstate Supplier Diversity Exchange Cheryl Harris, Senior Vice President of Allstate’s Sourcing and Procurement Solutions, announced the launch of the Allstate Supplier Mentoring Program during the closing reception. I quickly applied and am thrilled to share that my company was selected to join the 2012 inaugural class comprised of 10 businesses from across the country. As they say, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Our 12-month program kicked- off in May and I am excited about this new chapter in my business life.