Supplier diversity leaders attend Supply Nation’s Connect in Australia

Supply Nation’s annual flagship event, Connect, is the largest supplier diversity event in Australia.

The three events over two days are considered a must-attend by the Australian supplier diversity community. The Knowledge Forum on the first day is designed to bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business owners with buyers from government, corporate and not-for-profit organisations to share stories and learnings; hear about global and Australian best practice; and to provide practical strategies that can be implemented post-event. Day two sees Supply Nation host the largest Indigenous Business Tradeshow in Australia – with over 165 businesses showcasing their products and services at this year’s event. The Tradeshow is followed by the Gala Awards Dinner – this year sold out with 860 guests attending to celebrate the announcement of the 2018 Supplier Diversity Awards.

This year, over 2,300 people joined the two-day event held on 22 and 23 May with the common aim of building a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable Indigenous business sector.

Laura Berry, CEO of Supply Nation, welcomed guests to the first day of Connect, at the Knowledge Forum and in doing so launched Supply Nation’s new brandmark and livery with reference to this year’s Connect theme: ‘shaping an inclusive economy’.

“The new brandmark tells the story of our members, partners and Indigenous businesses coming together to shape a more inclusive economy, where all Australians have an equal opportunity to grow a business, support their families and achieve their dreams.” Ms Berry said.

Ms Berry continued “An inclusive economy is a strong economy and each and every one of you here today has a role to play in shaping that Australia.”

The keynote addresses were delivered by the Chair of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Clifford A. Bailey who encouraged delegates to embrace inclusion not only within their organisation but at every opportunity and Jamila Gordon, who captivated the audience with her personal story of traversing Australia’s business sector as a refugee: from washing dishes to becoming the Group CIO of Qantas, and now running her own start-up supporting other businesses.


The Global Supplier Diversity Story

Global Supplier Diversity Story - session_preview

A highlight of the program for many attendees was the ‘Global Supplier Diversity Story’ session where delegates heard from thought leaders and practitioners from around the globe including Cassandra Dorrington, President of the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Diversity Council; Fernando Hernandez, Supplier Diversity and Sustainability Director of Microsoft Corporation and Mayank Shah, Founder and CEO of Minority Supplier Development UK Ltd.

The panel shared their experience and insights into inclusive procurement: how to empower decision makers within an organisation to prioritise supplier diversity and the strategies and tactics that have worked to drive change and social inclusion for minority owned businesses in the US, Canada, South Africa and the UK and how these may apply in the Australian context.

Federal Government support

The Federal Government’s support for supplier diversity and Supply Nation was clearly displayed at Connect 2018. At the Indigenous Business Tradeshow, the Federal Government sponsored and staffed the “Australian Government Link” where five departments and agencies were available for Indigenous businesses to discuss how to better engage with and navigate through government procurement processes.

Senator the Honourable Nigel Scullion, Senator for the Northern Territory and Minister for Indigenous Affairs attended, and spent time visiting the exhibitor booths and talking to business owners. He also addressed the Tradeshow and reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to growing the Indigenous business sector.

At the Gala Awards Dinner, the 860 guest were thrilled by a live cross from Canberra where the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull congratulated Supply Nation, the awards finalists and winners, and the whole sector for the achievements of the past few years. He mentioned the recent government announcement that since the launch of the Indigenous Procurement Policy in July 2015, over AUD$1 billion has been spent with Indigenous businesses.


2018 Supplier Diversity Awards

Laura Berry, CEO Supply Nation, opening the Gala Awards Dinner_previewOn the final night of Connect, the prestigious Supplier Diversity Awards were announced. This year over 860 guests attended the event and celebrated as the winners were revealed. From the most successful organisations to the individuals who are creating change through their own advocacy or business acumen, the Supplier Diversity Awards are the highest recognition of achievement in Australian supplier diversity.

Ten awards were presented, including Corporate Member of the Year, Government Member of the Year, Certified Supplier of the Year, Registered Supplier of the Year, Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year, Supplier Diversity Partnership of the Year, Procurement Professional of the Year, Indigenous Businesswoman of the Year, Young Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year and the most prestigious Outstanding Impact of the Year award. Finalists and winners are available here.

Connect has once again brought together the entire supplier diversity community from Australia and the globe, with record numbers attending Next year is Supply Nation’s 10th birthday and Connect 2019 will be a real celebration.

For further information about Supply Nation’s annual Connect conference, visit