Time for a coffee break? Take a few minutes to get to know William Kapfer, Global Head of Supplier Diversity at JPMorgan Chase & Co., including his best advice for women entrepreneurs, what drove him to a career in diversity and inclusion, and more insights.

What piece of advice would you give to women entrepreneurs that want to do business with your corporation?

There are two pieces of advice I would offer any supplier looking to do business with a corporation:

  • First, make sure you do your homework. Study the firm’s website and learn as much as you can about the company you’re approaching — including what they buy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached by a supplier who’s asked me — “what do you need?” This is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from others in your competitive set. Come to meetings with talking points that showcase what distinguishes you in the marketplace. Talk about what sets you apart, what makes your product or service better than your competitors. And remember, don’t try to be all things to all people. Never promise to do something you can’t do. It’s better to start small, get your foot in the door, and then work up to a more robust relationship.
  • Second, it is imperative that you have a buttoned up elevator pitch. We hear over a dozen pitches a week — and that is fine, we want to be pitched, because we want to get to know new diverse suppliers in the marketplace for possible business opportunities. But the reality is that everybody’s pitch is not as buttoned-up as it could be. And sometimes that thirty second delivery is what gets you in the door and gets you access to the opportunity. I would recommend that everyone practices that brief statement. Colleagues who know me would say I am a broken-record on this topic, but it’s so valuable. I’ll admit that in more cases than not, the businesses that I’ve personally gotten attached to are the ones who came with that solid and polished pitch — including, how ‘they’ can help ‘us.’

What drove you to a career in diversity and inclusion?

I came into the supplier diversity field in a somewhat roundabout way. However, diversity and inclusion are very much a part of my passion and purpose. Diversity and acceptance had been ingrained into my family culture, and I knew that someday I would have the opportunity to work in a field that speaks to my passions and values.

My earliest memories of working with people who were different than I was in my grandfather’s grocery store in Warwick, NY. Stocking shelves, making sandwiches and bagging groceries, I worked side-by-side with people from all walks of life. Throughout those years at the store, my grandfather taught me the importance of living one’s values and embracing and honoring all people, regardless of race, age, gender or sexual orientation. His lessons taught me the value of celebrating everyone. I knew then that one day I’d find the perfect position – and would work for a company that demonstrated values that were consistent with my own. I found that opportunity at JPMorgan Chase – a place where I come to work every day knowing that my idiosyncratic values are aligned with those of my company, my team, and my direct managers.

How has being a WBENC Corporate Member helped your corporation and/or procurement department?

WBENC offers me direct access to a pipeline of well-qualified women-owned businesses. JPMorgan Chase has a long standing commitment to women-owned businesses for a variety of reasons – one being the innovation that they bring to the table. Also, it helps to create a healthy competition, which enables us to bring forth innovative businesses to compete with the non-diverse partners creating a competitive environment where we are able to secure more effective pricing, efficient operations, etc.

We are also stimulating economic growth, which I am very proud of. We’re contributing to the community, but more importantly, we’ve discovered that our WBE partners tend to adopt our beliefs and passions around diversity and inclusion and exhibit them within their workforce as well. More than simply a contract relationship – we become true business partners in moving the needle and supporting each other mutually to drive business outcomes.

What are you reading or listening to now?

I am a super-fan of Audible Books. I always have three or four books in my queue at a time. I’m currently listening to Diversity, Inc by Pamela Newkirk; Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War; and one of Oprah’s Book Club picks, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. As for magazines, I read a host of popular magazines, including Vanity Fair, Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar – and in the diversity space, I read Women’s Enterprise, Business Equality magazine and Diversity Inc. For news, I listen to NPR, CNN and PBS NewsHour podcasts every morning; and read the Wall Street Journal in hard-copy – and the New York Times digitally.

How do you unwind after a long workday?

After a long stint at the office, the one thing that helps me let go of the pressures of the day is exercise. Working off the stress – literally — not only helps me to unwind, but makes me feel happier (maybe it’s the release of endorphins), and more energetic.

Fill in the Blank

When I face a challenge, I… understand that challenges are a part of life. I step back, take a deep breath, and figure out how to transform that challenge into an opportunity.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself… “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
The one thing I couldn’t live without is… my partner, Eric. For 30 years he’s been helping me see the world in ways I could never see it, were he not in my life. I love and treasure him without limit.
Diversity and Inclusion inspires me because, … D&I brings everyone in, it lifts everyone up, it gives new voices a way to be heard, and new ideas a place to thrive.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.6 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands.

Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.


William Kapfer
Global Head of Supplier Diversity at JPMorgan Chase & Co.