Connect 2013 - A Review

Connect 2013 - A Review!

This year, Connect was held in two locations - Melbourne, VIC and Perth, WA. The highly anticipated Connect 2013 Melbourne - Australia’s biggest Indigenous networking event – was a great success. The two-day event was attended by executives from some of Australia’s top ASX companies and government agencies, and our Certified Indigenous Suppliers.

Many new connections were established between Certified Suppliers and corporate and government Members, and participants built on their knowledge and business acumen in a variety of areas. We hope Connect attendees enjoyed hearing from our international and local speakers and have garnered some valuable new insights into best business practices and approaches to supplier diversity.

Connect 2013 Melbourne featured an all-day conference on day-one, including innovative and interactive workshops and speeches. The conference commenced with a welcome from MC Jason Eades, Owner and Managing Director of Eades Consulting Group. Jason introduced Supply Nation’s new CEO, Charles Prouse, to the floor. Charles was pleased to have the opportunity to formally introduce himself as our new leader, and to welcome guests to Connect 2013.

We were delighted to have David A. Hinson, National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) in the US, as our keynote speaker for Connect 2013. Mr Hinson captured the attention of the audience with his insights into business development and supplier diversity. He reflected upon the importance of flexibility in an ever-changing environment, and the need for exceptional marketing practices, fresh ideas and an open-minded approach to business. He also highlighted that in a diverse workplace, the desire to work together – irrespective of individual backgrounds – is of paramount importance and the key to making any organisation or project a success. The audience were invited to ask questions, and Mr Hinson provided generous and insightful responses. Supply Nation Connect featured a number of international and local speakers, all experts in the field of supplier diversity. You can view a full list of who spoke at the event here:

A series of concurrent workshops took place throughout day one. Some of these included The Impact of Supplier Diversity, Growth for Success, Procurement Trends in Australia versus the US and Increasing Supplier Diversity through Supplier Development. Our workshops were facilitated by various corporate and government Members, Certified Suppliers and international delegates, all highly successful in their respective industries.

The Impact of Supplier Diversity Workshop featured Rebecca Cain, Senior Associate at Net Balance. Rebecca spoke about the Social Return on Investment (SROI), including the four stages of SROI, public and internal reporting, creation of positive role models and business case development. Denise Coley, Director of Global Supplier Diversity Business Development for Cisco Systems in the US, and Michael K. Robinson, Program Director of Global Supplier Diversity for IBM in the US spoke about supplier diversity history and the value of a diverse workplace. They also discussed analysis of supplier diversity programs, the importance of flexibility and understanding your corporate culture.

In Growth for Success, Michelle Evans, Research Fellow at Melbourne Business School and Program Director of the MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class Program, spoke about the importance of professional development, education and having great mentors. Michael McLeod, CEO of Message Stick Communications provided insight for Certified Suppliers on how best to research and then approach corporate and government buyers and maintain strong business relationships in the long-term.

At the end of this review you will find details on feedback surveys for Connect 2013. Your feedback and suggestions are invaluable in helping us to continue to deliver high-quality Connect conferences. Please take five minutes to complete the survey – we would love to hear about any new ideas you may have!

To view Connect 2013 conference photos:
To watch Connect 2013 conference videos:

Connect 2013 Tradeshow

The Connect tradeshow was an exciting opportunity for our corporate and government Members to come together with Certified Indigenous business Suppliers to establish new connections and develop business partnerships. The atmosphere at the tradeshow was contagious, with all attendees ready to browse the various booths and make new contacts. Everyone was very impressed with the high standard of products and services on display, and it was great to see some of our newer Certified Suppliers taking advantage of a great opportunity to display their businesses. Some enterprises even held give-aways, including flights, champagne, an iPad Mini and more! We hope you made some valuable new connections, and enjoyed the day as much as we did.

To view Connect 2013 tradeshow photos:
To watch Connect 2013 tradeshow videos:

Gala Dinner and Supplier Diversity Award Ceremony

The gala dinner was a wonderful evening of fine-dining, entertaining speeches, Indigenous performers and of course, the presentation of the 2013 Supplier Diversity Awards! The gala dinner and awards presentation were held at glamorous venue Atlantic Group (V) at Docklands in Melbourne. The event was the culmination of the Connect 2013 conference and Indigenous business tradeshow. Melbourne six-piece band the Jazzcats provided smooth lounge music and up-beat jazz numbers that got the crowd moving. Guests were also treated to a performance by One Fire Dance Troup. They used traditional Indigenous musical instruments and performed a captivating Indigenous dance.

Supply Nation wishes to thank National Australia Bank (NAB) for their very generous sponsorship of the Connect 2013 gala dinner. NAB's support is greatly appreciated by all of us, and they have made this wonderful evening possible.

This year we had nine unique award categories, to celebrate the achievements of organisations and individuals who strive to grow Indigenous business in Australia. Our award winners have all worked very hard to achieve their outstanding results, and Supply Nation is pleased to acknowledge our award winners stand-out contributions to supplier diversity. Winners were selected by a panel of supplier diversity experts and the results were kept under wraps until the dinner!

The Supply Nation Connect 2013 Supplier Diversity Award winners:

Corporate Member of the Year - Sponsored by Message Stick:
Leighton Contractors
Government Member of the Year:
Indigenous Business Australia
Certified Supplier of the Year - Sponsored by Indigenous Business Australia:
Outback Global
Up and Coming Member - Sponsored by BP:
Up and Coming Certified Supplier - Sponsored by Telstra:
Native Oz Cuisine
Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year - Sponsored by National Australia Bank:
Jennifer Levasseur, Staples
Supplier Diversity Partnership of the Year - Sponsored by Wesfarmers:
Coles and Yaru Water
Supplier to Supplier Partnership of the Year - Sponsored by Qantas:
Nallawilli Office Wares and Outback Global
Special Recognition - Sponsored by BT Australasia:

Supply Nation wishes to congratulate all of our winners!

We received a large number of high quality award nominations this year, reaching key transaction targets and demonstrating supplier diversity excellence. Again we’d like to congratulate our finalists and winners and encourage re-entry next year.

To view Connect 2013 gala dinner photos:
To watch Connect 2013 gala dinner videos:

Connect 2013 - Perth WA

This year, Supply Nation connected with Perth, WA! We had a one-day Connect event at the Hyatt Regency in Perth CBD on 23 May, 2013. The event - which consisted of a conference, tradeshow and reception - was a great success, and we have already had some positive feedback about connections and potential contracts that have resulted. Perth Connect was hosted by Charles Prouse, Supply Nation’s new CEO and Cynthia Dorrington, Owner of Vale & Associates Human Resources and Consulting in Halifax, Canada, was our international keynote speaker.

The Perth event had the same great conference content and expert speakers, along with the afternoon set aside for the Indigenous business tradeshow. Certified Suppliers and corporate and government Members found the tradeshow very valuable, as they were able to create new contacts and partnerships with those from across Australia, and more specifically the vibrant and booming state of Western Australia.

The day finished with drinks and canapés and a performance by the very talented Ulla Shay. Ulla won the NAIDOC Artist of the Year award in 2012 and we were very pleased to have her soulful rhythms as the backdrop for a wonderful evening of mingling and catching up. The Supply Nation team are pleased to have had the opportunity to hold Connect in Perth WA, and to get to know some of our WA-based Members and Certified Suppliers. We would also like to thank our sponsors, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Woodside for making this great day possible.

To view Connect 2013 Perth photos:

Thank You Connect 2013 Sponsors

The Supply Nation team would like to say a very big thank you to all our Connect 2013 sponsors. Without their generous support, the event would not be possible.

Special thanks to National Australia Bank for sponsoring the Connect 2013 gala dinner and to Indigenous Business Australia for sponsoring the Connect 2013 Melbourne tradeshow.

Thank you to our Connect 2013 sponsors:

Melbourne Gala Dinner: Sponsored by National Australia Bank (NAB)
Melbourne Tradeshow: Sponsored by Indigenous Business Australia
Award: Corporate Member of the Year - Sponsored by Message Stick
Award:Certified Supplier of the Year - Sponsored by Indigenous Business Australia
Award:Up and Coming Member - Sponsored by BP Australia
Award: Up and Coming Certified Supplier - Sponsored by Telstra
Award: Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year - Sponsored by National Australia Bank
Award: Supplier Diversity Partnership of the Year - Sponsored by Wesfarmers
Award: Supplier to Supplier Partnership of the Year - Sponsored by Qantas
Award: Special Recognition - Sponsored by BT Australasia
Perth Connect conference: Woodside Energy
Perth Connect Tradeshow: Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Again, thank you to all Connect 2013 sponsors. If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities for 2014, please get in touch:

Keep the Feedback Coming

We have received some excellent feedback about Connect 2013, and we’re pleased to hear you gained lots of new knowledge, ideas and contacts from the event! We hope that many of you are Turning Contacts into Contracts and we’d love to hear about your good-news-story that resulted from Connect 2013. Here are just a few of the comments we've received...

“We have some really good leads to follow-up on, and even though we don’t sell a mainstream product we have the possibility to manoeuvre our company to make some really big changes at a national level.”
"Great job by everyone there at Supply Nation. We found the two days to be a fantastic chance to meet and greet with corporate Members. From here we can only follow up closely and see what transpires… Hopefully some business and long term relationships!”
“It was a great experience and will be of benefit for my company. It has been a while since I felt as an equal in my work field…Again - thank you so much - this has really helped us.”
“It was great to be part of Connect 2013! The opportunity to promote our services to the big end of town is one that rarely avails itself, and to have it all condensed into a couple of days in the one space provides a greater chance to connect and pitch your services to potential clients. The most special part of the whole event for us was the atmosphere in the arena and meeting other Certified Suppliers. Hearing of their challenges and experiences was not only inspiring but informative.”
“Engaging with procurement staff and project managers from government departments and the biggest corporate companies operating in the country was the ultimate test of our products and services knowledge.”

Please send your testimonial through to:

We are very keen to hear from you regarding your experience at Connect 2013: Turning Contacts into Contracts. Your feedback enables us to continue to deliver exceptional Connect events, and we welcome any suggestions you may have.

We would like to invite you to spare a few minutes to complete our online survey:


Your participation is greatly appreciated. Please complete the Connect 2013 survey by 14 June 2013.

Connect 2013 Online

Videos and photos from Connect 2013 are available on our various social media channels. Check out our pages to see if you have been featured! We have a number of snap-shot interviews and photo albums from the Melbourne and Perth Connect events: