The 2017 Summit and Salute. Connecting with corporations and with WBEs.


The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) has a mission to fuel economic growth globally through access to opportunities, by identifying, certifying and facilitating the development of women-owned businesses. As WBENC celebrates its 20th anniversary it is clear that they continue to live out this mission decades later. WBENC kicked off its 20th-anniversary celebration with their Summit and Salute hosted this year in New Orleans.

The WBENC Summit & Salute has always been one of my favorite supplier diversity events and this year was no disappointment. I have been a repeat attendee for the past three years. The first two years, I attended as a supplier diversity professional from one of WBENC’s Top Corporations. However, this was my first year attending as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) representative. Prior to the conference, I was looking forward to seeing how my experiences would be the same and different from previous years.

One of the main reasons that I love the Summit & Salute is because it provides numerous opportunities to make connections with both corporations and WBEs. WBENC provides numerous workshops and speakers to speak about topics that are helpful and relevant to WBEs and the corporations. Attendees have the opportunity to hear executives from the Top Corporations discuss the changing trends in their industry and prepare WBEs for the changing climate. In addition, WBENC provided mini panel discussions with numerous WBEs to discuss varying topics that are affecting women business owners.

As a WBE attendee, there were programs that I was able to participate in that I hadn’t attended in the past. The WBE forum was an excellent opportunity to learn about the current and future state of WBENC and hear from numerous WBE speakers. One of the highlights during the forum was a panel of WBEs that discussed how they have created their own supplier diversity programs. As a former supplier diversity professional I was very impressed to hear from WBEs that are really walking the talk. Another new experience was attending the Procurement Meet & Greet as a WBE. Even from a different vantage point, the Procurement Meet & Greet still provided great connections with both corporations and WBEs.

As I begin my journey to start my own business and become a WBE I have to reflect on the past few years of my career. I have been able to experience both sides of the table as a corporate and WBE representative but the one constant in all of the change has been WBENC. I am truly blessed to be a member of my local WBENC family but also the national WBENC clan. The Summit & Salute the past couple years has given me the opportunity to connect with old and new colleagues and to catapult my career to the next level. I encourage both WBEs and corporations alike to attend the WBENC Summit & Salute because from personal experience it has continuously been a turning point in my life.

Jenn McClendon

Independent Contractor – Supplier Diversity and WBE Support


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