Engineering growth

From the June 2019 print edition

The Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) welcomed roughly
400 attendees on April 16-17 in Toronto for the 15th annual Diversity Procurement Fair. The annual two-day business facilitation and networking event featured supplier diversity leaders representing corporations in a wide range of industries sharing experiences and leading workshops on a variety of topics.

With a focus on the theme of “Engineering Growth,” the many shifts and changes in the auto industry were top mind for many fair attendees. Many businesses that supply to the auto sector were eager to learn about what these changes mean for them and what future opportunities they offer. Representatives from FCA, Cummings, Enterprise and Flex N Gate delivered an engaging and insightful hour-long session, with standing-room only, on the shifts to electric and autonomous cars and the impact on future supply chains. Their key message for suppliers was: push the boundaries of what’s possible and remain innovative.

Supplier development is always an essential component of the conference. The fair kicked off with the Supplier Bootcamp. Katrina Turnbow from Kanopi Social gave a crash course on Google Analytics, explaining how suppliers can track marketing data and optimize their webpages for customer engagement.

Nadine Spencer from BrandEQ and Victor Chew from PENDA Productions gave suppliers insights to the importance of digital brand equity to expand their businesses, and how to unify their company image online. Spencer focused on increasing the brand value of a company to attract business through a social and digital presence. Chew echoed the message and reminded the suppliers to create authentic content.

A key component of the fair is the Corporate Member Forum, a gathering of CAMSC’s Canadian and American corporate members to foster collaboration and peer-to-peer learning focused on strengthening the Canadian supplier diversity landscape. Committed to building robust supplier diversity programs and initiatives in Canada, the forum continues to be a gathering of minds on delivering solutions and driving supplier diversity to new heights in Canada.

The networking reception, sponsored by FMAV, featured Indigenous drummer, storyteller and educator Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone, who sang two songs from her album, Hand Drum Stories, Miigwech Away and You Are Not Alone. Hand Drum Stories shares Aqua’s experiences and journey of healing.

Day two of the fair kicked off with a CAMSC TED Talks-style session. Three CAMSC suppliers shared their journey to success with the audience. Cyrus Mavalwala, Advantis Communications, shared his supplier diversity journey; Kim Thiara and daughter Simmie Thiara, AceTronic Industrial Controls, spoke about their experience as women running a successful family business in a traditionally male-dominated sector.

With a series of workshops featuring panelists from industry, attendees chose from sessions that focused on the future of the auto industry; millennials’ impact on how business is conducted; design thinking and bringing innovative ideas to life; AI/Big Data and its impact on small businesses; the future of smart buildings and other timely and specific topics that offered valuable knowledge and insight from industry experts and leaders.

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of Dream Maker Inc., Isaac Olowolafe Jr. delivered a keynote speech, his message was to invest in minority communities to see them thrive. He recently signed a partnership with Ryerson University for the Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF).
The afternoon was dedicated to the Meeting Marketplace, where corporate members met prospective Aboriginal and minority-owned suppliers. Recruitment and potential deals began in these initial meetings, with suppliers having the chance to meet with representatives from BMO, TD, RBC, Merck, PepsiCo, TELUS, General Motors and Toyota.

“We strive every year to provide the best in thought leadership for all our attendees at this fair,” said Cassandra Dorrington, president and CEO, CAMSC. “We are fortunate to have such a strong network of certified corporate and supplier members who not only have the expertise and credibility in the supplier diversity area but are so generous to share their knowledge with our guests. This is a milestone year for the fair and organization and I am sure as we continue to grow, the fair will become even more of a must-attend event for organizations that want to lead in supplier diversity.”

Daphne Shih is director, business development and partnerships with CAMSC.

As part of CAMCS’s 15th anniversary celebration, the Business Achievement Awards gala will be held on September 26. Nominations are being accepted until July 13. Visit for more details.