What You Missed at the Inaugural Supplier Connection Growth Summit

Pitney Bowes Accepts Member Leadership Award

(Pictured: Chris Bruhl of The Business Council of Fairfield County, Jay Wesley & Sheryl Battles of Pitney Bowes Inc., Jen Crozier of IBM, and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy at the inaugural Supplier Connection Growth Summit)


The inaugural Supplier Connection Growth Summit is in the books.

And what a book it is!

On May 10, 250 small and diverse suppliers descended on the Marriott Hotel & Spa in Stamford, Connecticut to meet with and learn from procurement executives from 12 of the leading corporate and organizational buyers in the region.

Registration, breakfast, and trade show

Attendees started the morning with a light breakfast and a trade show that featured 16 business organizations, including:

• Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey
• Connecticut Technology Council
• Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology
• Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development
• Connecticut Department of Administrative Services
• Connecticut Economic Research Center
• Connecticut Procurement Technical Assistance Program
• Connecticut Small Business Development Center
• Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council
• New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council
• Pitney Bowes Inc.
• Robinson – Cole
• Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
• U.S. Small Business Administration
• Supplier Connection
• Women Presidents Educational Organization

Panel Discussion — Winning Corporate Contracts: What you need to know

Following the trade show, Supplier Connection’s Tim Coates kicked things off with a panel discussion, “Winning Corporate Contracts: What you need to know,” that featured procurement executives from IBM, the Coca-Cola Company, and Pitney Bowes Inc.

Lou Ferretti, project executive, product environmental compliance & supply chain social responsibility at IBM, urged suppliers not to assume an entitlement mentality once they became a supplier to a large organization. He also stressed that corporations expect their suppliers to reflect their values and practices.

Terrez Thompson, vice president, global supplier diversity at the Coca-Cola Company, said that suppliers need to learn their client’s corporate culture. She also emphasized that in the early stages of the supplier relationship, firms need to prioritize listening.

Reminding the attendees that buyers want to find small and diverse suppliers for their supply chain, Jay Sheldon Wesley, head of global supplier diversity & performance, said that Pitney Bowes Inc. was ready, willing, and able to work with potential suppliers to build their capacity. Wesley also called Supplier Connection a “godsend,” because it allows him to evaluate suppliers based on data.


After the panel, there were three workshops focused on how to successfully use Supplier Connection.

The workshop “Resources to Help You Grow” featured:

• Joe Ercolano, associate state director, CT Small Business Development Center
• Bart Kollen, deputy commissioner, CT Department of Economic & Community Development
• Lisa Wood, director, CT Procurement Technical Assistance Program
• Keisha Blake, executive director, New York, Women Presidents Educational Organization
• Lisa Powell, economic development specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration

The “Supplier Connection Success Stories” workshop was facilitated by Jay Sheldon Wesley of Pitney Bowes, and featured four suppliers: LightSpeed, TruEvents, Walker, Airlink.

The third workshop, “How to Win Large Contracts,” was led by Gary Breitbart of The Business Council of Fairfield County, a cosponsor for the Growth Summit.

Special matchmaking session

Concurrent to the workshops, dozens of small and diverse suppliers had special matchmaking sessions with procurement executives from:

• Coca-Cola
• Dell
• DuPont
• Frontier Communications
• Marist College
• MasterCard
• Pitney Bowes
• Purdue Pharma
• Sikorsky Aircraft
• Stanley Black & Decker
• Synchrony Financial

There were many reports of promising introductions and potential leads after the matchmaking session.

Luncheon — with keynote by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy

The Growth Summit concluded with a luncheon program, which Jen Crozier, vice president of corporate citizenship and president of the IBM Foundation, opened by highlighting IBM’s commitment to economic development and focus on new collar jobs.

Following her remarks, Crozier and Chris Bruhl, president and CEO of The Business Council of Fairfield County, presented the first Supplier Connection Member Leadership Award to Pitney Bowes.

Sheryl Battles, vice president, communications and supplier diversity, and Jay Sheldon Wesley accepted the award on behalf of Pitney Bowes.

The luncheon concluded with a special keynote from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy.

Malloy described how Connecticut is supporting small and diverse businesses to spur economic development. He also recognized the contributions IBM made to the state through Supplier Connection and its work with Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH).

Future Growth Summits

The inaugural Supplier Connection Growth Summit is in the books but this is not The End.

Stay tuned for the second edition.