In June, the WBENC network will come together in Detroit, Michigan for three days of rich programming, networking, and celebration at the 2018 National Conference & Business Fair. We are thrilled to have an amazing group of co-chairs who have collectively made this event a reality, including DTE Energy, Ford Motor Company, GM, Dakkota Integrated Systems, LLC, Dura, and Strategic Staffing Solutions.
We invite you to learn more about each of co-chairs and their dedication to supporting women-owned businesses. Today, we’re proud to introduce Angela Henderson, Senior Manager – Head of Supplier Diversity at Ford Motor Company.
Q&A with Ford Motor Company’s Angela Henderson
Who or what inspires you in your career?
My children have always been, and continue to be my number one inspiration. But since becoming the Head of Supplier Diversity Development at Ford and having the opportunity to connect with so many hardworking diverse suppliers, I have another inspiration – diverse suppliers.
When I meet diverse suppliers who are sharing their journey, successes, innovative ideas in the making, and what their success means to them and their communities, I feel moved to work even harder to support them. Whether that is through providing an opportunity for them to meet one of Ford’s suppliers, connecting them with resources to further their acumen in an area of concern, or taking the time to develop a relationship that could potentially lead to direct business with Ford Motor Company, I want to do it all.
While my level of advocacy for WBEs is not different from other diverse groups, WBEs are extremely inspiring to me because I know what a woman has to go through to be successful. WBEs have to manage it all – family and career – on a level that is not equal to male counterparts. As my grandmother would say, “Women find a way to make a dollar out of 15 cents and look good while doing it!”
My inspiration channels have been expanded to collaborating with community leaders and diverse advocacy groups like WBENC and meeting all of the WBES – this is something that makes my job not only rewarding and fulfilling, but also extremely fun.
What do you define success?
The definition of success will be different for everyone and every project. There are successes in personal life, career, projects, etc. The definition of success for me is when I am able to hold my head high and honestly say that I put my best self forward in any and every situation, challenge, job, etc. that I was a part of. If I can say that I have no regrets, that I didn’t let myself down or others that depend on me, that I maintained my dignity, honor and respect along the way – that is success for me.
What are you reading or listening to right now?
I am currently reading a book called “How We Lead Matters: Reflections on a Life of Leadership” by Marilyn Carlson Nelson. I really enjoy reading books on self-improvement and success as much as I enjoy reading a good mystery novel. My music selection typically coincides with my mood or activity. It can seriously go from hip hop to neo soul, to R&B, to pop or new country, and then to gospel all in one day. Music is one of my many daily inspirations. It’s crazy because sometimes when I’m really focused, I will pop in my earbuds and listen to old school hip hop while I plow through an assignment. Or sometimes when I’m cooking, I’ll put on some neo-soul or gospel and have a sing-off with my spatula.
How has your involvement with WBENC impacted your career?
My involvement with WBENC has made me look at what I do as a procurement professional with a much different lens than I did in the past. I have always been a personal advocate for diversity, but having the ability to connect with an organization such as WBENC and being able to apply that personal passion to deliver my every day objectives for the company that I work for is pretty incredible.
I firmly believe that the opportunity to engage with WBENC and other diverse advocacy organizations has already had a positive impact on my career. I’m connecting with internal customers that I likely would have never connected with, and I have the opportunity to continue to build my acumen and connect the dots in an organization that is large and complex at the same time. Wherever my next assignment ends up, this passion that I have and connection with WBENC will always be a driving force toward inclusion and equality for me.
What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs?
Do not give up. You don’t have to do it all – some things you can outsource, like the laundry and housekeeping. Our mistakes and failures are typically what helps us to succeed, because as an entrepreneur – you don’t have a choice but to keep going. So many people are counting on you to succeed. They are counting on you to share your failures and rise above them. That is what continues to ignite the fire for WBEs. “She Did It!” That’s what we all love to say, whether it is with a cheerleader tone or one of shock and awe. “She Did It!” makes others want to do the same.
What is your proudest moment thus far in your career?
I have had several proud moments throughout my career and I often reflect and think, how the heck did I get here? I was a single parent for 13 years – throughout the latter part of my high school years and through undergraduate college. Working full-time and going to school full-time, seriously accomplishing that alone was something that I can’t even wrap my head around sometimes when I reflect on it. However, being a young single woman on a mission and a mother of two beautiful daughters who looked up at me daily, I didn’t have a choice but to finish what I started. I had to show them that if you want to do something, you have to put in the work, but you can do it!
Of course, being young, I made my share of mistakes along the way. But my proudest moments came when I felt completely overloaded in every aspect of my life and yet accomplished all of the goals that I set for myself. I will never say that I did this on my own because I did not. I will always give credit to my faith in God along with the help and guidance from other women in my life, starting with my amazing siblings who encouraged me, supported and uplifted me; my Mom, my best and oldest friend; and other amazing women who God placed in my path. These women helped to shape and mold me, shared words of insight and encouragement, and said to keep looking forward.
During my high school years, my “forward” was graduating with honors. When I accomplished that, my “forward” became finishing my bachelor’s degree and finding a job where I would have an opportunity to grow. After starting at Ford Motor Company, my “forward” became finishing graduate school, which over those two years, I planned my wedding, got married, moved into a new home, got pregnant, started a new position, and had a baby while only missing class on the day that I had my son – and I finished my MBA with distinction (3.97 GPA).
During all of those years and even today, I actively participate in community service events – giving back always! My most recent proud moment was being selected to relocate to Brazil with my family for three years where I had the privilege to work with and develop some young Ford employees, including four young women in particular who I have proudly watched advance in their own careers since my return. Taking the time to invest in others – that makes me very proud – because I am forever grateful to the people along my career path who invested in me!
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, MI, manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 199,000 employees and about 66 plants worldwide, the Company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The Company provides financial services through Ford Credit.