This weekend I jump on a big jet plane and head to London. But what makes this more exciting is, this ain’t no holiday. I’ve actually been invited to speak on a panel at the Minority Supplier Diversity UK (MSDUK) 2016 Conference on ‘Global Opportunities for Minority Businesses’ alongside the Presidents of Global Supplier Diversity Council’s from the UK, Canada and USA. I’m pinching myself right now about this. Is this really real? Am I actually adding an International Conference speaking engagement to my C.V.?
I’ve come a long way since my journey with Supply Nation, (Australia’s supplier diversity council) began in 2012. I knew nothing about supplier diversity or working with Corporates or Indigenous businesses. My career till then had encompassed over state and federal levels of Government in many different environments. In 2012 with Supply Nation, it was sink or swim. I’m a fast learner, so I swam hard!
Within weeks of starting that job, I was coordinating and leading a delegation of Indigenous businesses to the USA to attend the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC) Conference and Business Opportunity Fair in Denver, Colorado. This was the first of 3 delegations I led, taking up to 15 Indigenous businesses to connect and explore global partnerships with international minority businesses.
In each of the trips to NMSDC, I listened, engaged, asked lots of questions, and networked with many supplier diversity professionals, the global link of supplier diversity councils and international minority businesses. I began to understand the fundamentals of a world-class supplier diversity program. Each year I built on and developed my knowledge and expertise on supplier diversity.
It is an exciting time for me and for Indigenous business. Since the introduction of the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) in July 2015, 542* contracts have been awarded to Indigenous business worth more than 178.1 million*. The IPP has brought a needed focus on Indigenous economic development; and with a successful performance so far, I’m hopeful we will see the policy realise its intent to grow the Indigenous business sector, and have a roll-on effect in Aboriginal communities through employment, training opportunities and self-determination.
I hope that I’m an inspiration to other Aboriginal people who may be considering whether to take the leap into business ownership. It was the inspiring stories I witnessed and the relationships I built with Indigenous business owners that made me want to be just like them. Going into business has been one of the riskiest and scariest things I’ve ever done. It’s also been one of the most rewarding.
It’s humbling to think about how far I’ve come as an Aboriginal woman who grew up in housing commission in the Western Suburbs of Sydney; the daughter of a single mother. I feel proud and grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and the experience I’ve gained. But this is just the beginning. Expect more from me, because it’s coming!
Follow me while I’m in London via social media
Twitter @kristal_kinsela Facebook @kristalekinsela @MSD_UK #MSDUKConference
*data provided via Supply Nation 12 September 2016 data is Austender contracts only