I recently had the opportunity to speak with Simeon Terry, Program Manager of Diversity Affairs at Austin Industries. Simeon is a recent recipient of the 2012 Champions of Diversity Award.
Q. What are some of your objectives as the MWBE Program Administrator of Diversity Affairs? How have you tangibly seen some of these objectives come to fruition throughout your time at Austin Industries?
A. The main objective is to maximize diversity efforts in external procurement with both Minority and Women owned businesses. To do that I have created company polices and best practices to help our MWBE’s not only get contracts but be supported in their effort to successfully execute and complete these contracts. At Austin Industries we have a Mentor/Protégé project in place and I have seen many companies grow from small businesses into mid-sized and even multi-million dollar firms. Companies that were a 2-3 men operation have grown within a year to be able to support a 10-15 people team and that is huge to me.
Q. From your own personal experience, what is a piece of advice that you would give to a corporate diversity professional looking to expand their diversity initiatives within their company?
A. Number one you need to really know your industry. I have a background in engineering and have worked in construction for over 20 years so I am able to wear multiple hats. This enables me to not only get firms involved but then engage them on a more technical level and answer additional questions a contractor may have instead of turning them over to someone else. If you do not have a background in your industry than I would say to build your mastery in your craft by going through whatever training is available to you whether it is taking a class or getting a certification.
Q. What is one piece of advice that you would give to MBE’s who are looking to engage in business with Austin Industries?
A. Know your craft; understand your capabilities. Sell your substance not your status. The more you explain your capabilities to us the more opportunities there are for us to call you back with our needs.
Q. What is the most satisfying part about your job in Diversity Affairs?
A. Seeing businesses become successful, seeing them grow, seeing them be able to employ other workers which ultimately impacts families. It is rewarding to see firms grow internally and externally in business statures in the market place.
Q. What does it mean to you to be named one of the “Champions in Diversity” of 2012 by Diversitybusiness.com?
A. It’s very awesome and truly a humbling honor. I have received many other awards in my lifetime but it is great when you are recognized by other peers in the industry and be applauded for your efforts and due diligence. I am appreciative and very thankful.