If you are local to Upstate South Carolina, specifically the Greenville Spartanburg area, you may have heard of the BMW Supplier Diversity Conference. This event, which normally takes place in the Spring is an all out celebration of the community's diverse businesses. If you have been fortunate to attend, you know how spectacular it is not just from the setting, the beautiful new cars and the delicious food, but in the OPPORTUNITIES that come from this event.
The typical agenda for this day-long event is:
- Meet and greet with continental breakfast in the morning
- Welcome to all attendees
- 2 Breakout sessions to help sharpen everyone's business skills
- Buffet with a 3-course meal
- Keynote Speeches
- 4 Hour Trade Show
Why does this conference exist? What is it...? you may ask. This event is an annual opportunity to help lift up businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans and LGBTQ community members with one focus in mind. Creating an even more diverse group of successful businesses. Oliver Haase, Senior Vice President of Purchasing and Supplier Network at BMW, explains that diversity in a workforce and supply chain offers better insight into their own clients' needs and goals. Additionally, it creates a healthier more successful community. "At BMW, we believe diversity is the engine of our success." Hasse states.
BMW Diversity Conference 2021
2021 celebrated the 9th year of the show with an overall showing of 2000+ attendees, which include BMW Tier 1 Suppliers and businesses near and far. The BMW Supplier Diversity Conference took place in September 2021 instead of the Spring due to the ongoing COVID Pandemic, but with all of the precautions and overall concern for everyone's health and well being, most everyone seemed at ease. On that note, this was one of the first large-scale events that most attendees that I spoke with had gone to since the pandemic started. Let's just say, we were all excited to be out and about celebrating the community together again.
Of the 8 Breakout Sessions available, I selected Tim Pecoraro's "Winning with People" and Rueben Spokes' "Make the Sale by Telling the Story". These sessions are a great way to get inspired and hone your skills.
Whenever I attend, I do realize that we are very fortunate to be a Tier 1 Supplier with BMW and that many in the room would love to have that opportunity as well. And that is why this event exists. To develop skills, encourage engagement and offer opportunity to everyone equally in the community. What an amazing idea!
I have to take a moment and share my experience with Tim Pecoraro. Tim must be a man who drinks A LOT OF COFFEEEEEEE!!!!! Either that, or he is one of the most passionate people who cares about bringing people together. The entire time I was sitting in Tim's session, I wanted to jump up and say. YES! We love bringing people together too! Through language and culture! Tim believes that when businesses develop their teams they are developing their competitive advantage overall. "Let's celebrate the differences in people rather than just tolerating those differences." says Tim. We agree Tim! Check out Tim on LinkedIn.
My next session was provided by Rueben Stokes "Make the Sale by Telling the Story" This was such a wonderful session and I truly enjoyed hearing about Mr. Stokes own story, including one of his first experiences with public speaking. (You will have to ask him for that story yourself. 😀) Does it sound disingenuous to think you have to tell a story to your prospects in order to sell your product? It isn't. Brands like Nike show athletes, working hard to achieve success, often with minimal focus on the actual product. Why? Because you want to be a winner and they want you to imagine you are that person working hard toward the reward. What do you need to achieve success? Shoes! Oh... and a lot of hard work! "And by the way", Mr. Stokes points out, "You just can't make up a story! It has to be real!!! You have to share who you are and why you are doing what you are doing through your story so that we believe in your product/service and you!". Well said. And thank you for sharing your story with us Mr. Stokes. Please visit him on LinkedIn.
After our breakout sessions, the day continued with lunch and a beautiful presentation celebrating Knudt Flor's 28 years at BMW culminating as CEO of the BMW Spartanburg Plant.
The Keynote was provided by Rha Goddess, a social media diva and entrepreneurial coach. Rha shared her personal experiences during COVID and how she used a positive mindset to guide her through tough times. In fact this was a repeated theme by many at the conference who had faced mental and financial tough times during the pandemic. A fact that still affects many of us well into 2021. Rha was the perfect spring board to calm everyone's nerves and launch them into a positive and productive conference that followed.
Then we were off to the races! Tier 1 Suppliers at the ready looking forward to hearing from the diverse business community ready to share their stories and build new business relationships. This is always my favorite part of the conference because we get to talk... And if you know me, you know that I like to talk! But perhaps it is even more fun in the end to listen to all those in attendance and get to know their needs and goals. What a fun conference this year was and what a nice opportunity to see old fiends again and make new ones! See you all next year! Thank you BMW for a wonderful event!
In continued celebration of the ideals shared at the event, if you attended the meeting, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or thoughts on how we can help you get connected to CORE Languages or other businesses at the conference. Please write to email@example.com with your name and business name found in the Supplier Diversity Conference directory. Wishing everyone success.