In June, the WBENC network will come together at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada for the National Conference & Business Fair, the largest conference of its kind for women business owners in the U.S. We will be looking back at memorable milestones and leaders from the past 20 years as well as looking to a future full of endless possibilities for us to advance the vision and mission of WBENC.
One of our National Conference & Business Fair WBE Co-Chairs, Hannah Kain, President & CEO, ALOM, shared how she has observed WBENC and the marketplace grow over the years in the April/May issue of the WBENC President’s Report. Below, she shares what we can do together to continue to lead the development of women business leaders across the nation.
Q: Leadership can take many forms. How have you been an advocate for women leaders over the years? Has it changed as you’ve grown as a leader?
A: I have the privilege of serving on WBENC’s board. The RPOs and WBENC support and develop women business leaders. I have a strong desire and increasing opportunity for paying it forward. I have volunteered and served on boards or advisory boards to support women such as, Women’s Initiative helping low income women by supporting entrepreneurship, Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, Watermark and Committee of 200 for developing executive women leaders and entrepreneurs.
I personally mentor and support women inside ALOM and other organizations. I have helped women start companies and make it through the first difficult years. Some of these businesses have become suppliers to ALOM. ALOM has a strong Tier II supplier diversity program. We love supporting WBEs and growing them as part of our supply base.
I also speak at public events to encourage girls and young women to dream big.
Q: Women business leaders still face challenges gaining access to capital and growing their business. How can successful WBEs like ALOM work to continue to erode those barriers in coming years?
A: We make a point of providing fair terms to our WBE suppliers, typically paying in 30 days. I firmly believe that we receive many benefits from being the customer of choice and by supporting the WBEs. Fair payment terms should really be part of a good diversity program.
Fortunately, financial institutions are starting to see more success stories around women business owners. This will hopefully pave the way for others. Many business women support angel funds and equity groups that mainly target women-led companies. I personally work with a female banker and a female CPA. By promoting more women in financial services we can pave the way for inclusiveness in all aspects of the financial world.
Q: What is the most important aspect of business a WBE can focus on for the future?
A: Innovation. The way you do business today will not be the same in five years. The changing business environment and technology advances provide new opportunities every single day. As a leader, I am excited and paranoid at the same time. Change brings opportunities, but also sometimes unexpected competition.
Staffing would be another important factor. To provide the very best service and quality in a global environment, you need to be the employer of choice. Attract exceptional talent and develop a collaborative environment to achieve results.
Learn more about NCBF Co-Chairs and all our sponsors at conf.wbenc.org.