Shelia Morgan is an award-winning executive and President/CEO of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council. Previously she served as the Executive Director of the MBDA funded Chicago Minority Business Opportunity Committee (MBOC). Under her leadership, the MBOC was instrumental in delivering over 200 million dollars in contracting opportunities to minority entrepreneurs. Also a seasoned business diversity veteran, Shelia has extensive experience with a number of Fortune 500 corporations. She led the Supplier Diversity Program for Kraft Foods, Inc. and held positions as National Director of Business Development Diversity for Square D/Schneider Electric, and Manager of Diversity Business Development for Johnson Controls.
How did you get your start in your professional career?
Believe it or not, I started as a programming analyst at Northern Illinois Gas Company. While there I met my life-long mentor, Ms. Trudy Martin. Trudy was the Minority Business Administrator for the company and I really admired her and the work she was doing in and for the community. I made up my mind that I would some day have that job! I guess I knew that this work would impact so many and make a difference in the lives of so many. Ni-Gas as it was called then had a generalist philosophy and believed in teaching, reaching and embracing employees with potential. I moved around the company and eventually landed my mentor’s job. The rest as they say is history. I love the job I do. In fact, it’s not a job at all, it’s a passion. It’s not work, it’s my mission. I could go on and on and on because I really love this space!
What are some of your duties as President of the Chicago MSDC?
Chief cook and bottle washer! *laughs* Seriously, as president of the Chicago MSDC I engage in all aspects of the organization. Although I am the external face of the organization, I absolutely am in the trenches with the staff. I am responsible for the financial health and well being of the organization and the staff. I meet with our stakeholders, corporations, minority business enterprise, outreach/assist agencies and major funders including the US Department of Commerce and of course the National Minority Supplier Development Council. One of my favorite sayings is: “Meet people where they are” and I think that’s exactly what I do.
What can attendees expect at the upcoming 50th annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair?
CBOF always has something for everyone at every skill level. Remember, we meet you where you are. So this year we have a bevy of new seminars designed to educate the MBE, Corporate 1-on-1’s, “ A View from the top; the Presidents, past, present and national, perspective” and more. We’ll also have one of the biggest sales and marketing opportunities in “The Tradefair” where lots of exciting networking and deal making will take place. Lastly, the 50 year Legacy Celebration”, our award winning sponsors breakfast will feature a “Conversation facilitated by Roland Martin about what’s next with the President & CEO of ComEd (Anne Pramaggorie), Henry Cisneros & Chris Kennedy.
This year’s theme is “Investing In the Gold Standard”. What is the Gold Standard?
Chicago MDC is the Gold Standard. Often the term “Gold Standard” refers to certification, but in this case we are referring to being the standard by which organizations of this elk are measured. We’ve done it well and done it right for 50 years! We are the oldest and I think we are the best!
What do you see in the future for minorities in business?
I dream of the day when the playing field is truly level and all that seek access have access. I dream of a day when we are all judged by our actions not supposition. I dream of a day when “All” things are equal.
What are three principals you try to abide by in business?
1. Keep your word! Say what you mean and mean what you say; my word is my bond. Integrity or the lack of intergrity can make or break you personally and professionally
2. Set proper expectations; under promise and always, always over deliver!
3. Together we are stronger and there is room at the table for collaboration
Best piece of advice you’d give to aspiring business professionals?
Set proper expectations, get a mentor and listen and learn; do not be afraid to take a risk.
Do you have a favorite business book that you highly recommend?
Yes I do. A couple actually. The first is “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson. It’s simple but always relevant because the world changes daily. The second book is “Boys In The Boat” by Daniel James Brown. Also, for good measure, add The Holy Bible to the list as well.
What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love singing. I really believe singing is food for my soul though I mostly only sing in the shower. Also, I married my high school sweet heart, Ricky Morgan. Ricky is really the wind beneath my wings.
Favorite quote or affirmation?
1.A hard winter yields sweeter fruit; the struggle of your last season is shaping the victory of your next season.
2. Leadership is not a role it is a responsibility. Handle your responsibility and God will elevate your role.
3. No negative energy! Through God, all things are possible.
What’s next for Shelia Morgan?
I have a lot of great plans for the Council including a goal to double the size of the Chicago MSDC. You’ll have to stay tuned to the next level of minority supplier development for mbes and corps. It’s truly a long term project worthy of pursuit. Also, personally, I want to sky dive at least one time in my life time; the first time may be enough. *laughs*
The 50th annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair will take place April 20-21 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Chicago. For more information, please visit cbof.chicagomsdc.org.