Dee C. Marshall
Diverse & Engaged
“Do what you love; follow your passion that solves a business problem; invest in your business and invest in yourself by hiring a coach or join a mastermind group.”
About Diverse & Engaged
Diverse & Engaged is a leadership development and diversity resource. The 2017 PWC CEO Study says 77% of Top CEOs say they are very concerned about finding people with the right skills. We help businesses that lack adequate talent and skills, or have a problem attracting and retaining diverse talent. We solve their people problems by building leadership capacity and developing inclusion programs to engage, support or train diverse populations.
Headquartered: Newark, New Jersey
Company Website: www.DiverseandEngaged.com
When and how was your business started?
I am an “accidental” entrepreneur, so I actually started the business years before I launched the business in 2012. Initially I took my 15+ years of training experience on Wall Street and started a coaching, training and development practice. Over time my brand and influencer status expanded my business opportunities and I became a go-to for solving diversity dilemmas for diverse consumers, diverse workforce and diverse suppliers.
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
Being WBENC-Certified helped build my business credibility and it gave me the confidence to play bigger and scale my company. I am forever grateful for Candace Waterman who encouraged me to come back to WBENC and so many others like WBENC Board Chair, Theresa Harrison, who literally walked me over to her colleague at EY where I now have a teaming agreement.
What is your business philosophy and how has it impacted your success as a business?
Our philosophy is to never leave God out of the success equation. It is our intention to do our very best at delivering world-class products, services, solutions and events to serve the people and business assigned to us and generate exceedingly abundantly above average returns for our work.
What is your proudest moment thus far in business?
Receiving Top 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business was a proud moment because my client Prudential (who is Fortune 10) nominated me and it was supported by five other major corporations including Nielsen, Coca-Cola, Dell, City of New York MTA and RWJBarnabas. This meant they valued our work as a boutique practice for leadership development and diversity consultants.
What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?
To new entrepreneurs, I say do what you love. Follow your passion that solves a business problem. Invest in your business and invest in yourself by hiring a coach or join a mastermind group. Remember, success leaves clues, so you should find the “Lebron James” in your space and take good notes from her. Then plan your work, work your plan and never ever give up.
What advice would you share with a newly certified WBE looking to make the most out of her certification?
My best advice is to show up. I have been to every annual conference even when it was a struggle but it paid off in business and other opportunities. I have the best support at WBENC, my RPO, corporate Supplier Diversity and other WBEs because I show up. You have to connect at the national level and at the local level with your RPO if you really want to leverage this opportunity to grow.
Have you partnered with other WBENC-Certified WBEs on contracts or utilized other WBEs as suppliers? If so, what has been the benefit? Why do you feel it is important to work with other WBEs in the WBENC network?
Yes, I have used another WBE as a supplier. It’s an awesome business model to have a bench of other WBEs who are geniuses at what they do and can add value to your offering. I recently partnered with my buddy EbenumEquation.com for a specific certification. The benefit as I’ve grown my company DiverseandEngaged.com is simply not having to do it all and the thrill of playing together and winning together.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Avis Yates, CEO at Technology Concepts, said to me recently make ten calls every day, and considering she runs a multimillion dollar company and just made Forbes fastest growing companies for women, I am trying to follow her lead. If I had to go with my first thought, I would say follow your purpose and do what you love.
What do you do to prepare for the National Conference & Business Fair?
To prepare for conference, I research my Wish List (which is the list of the top ten companies I plan to work with); I read their latest press, review the annual report, connect on LinkedIn, and send a DM or email to my Wish List contacts to see if we can arrange a time to connect.
What is your strategy for how you approach the Business Fair?
My strategy is to map out my walking route based on my Wish List; get there early and introduce myself to the key contact. If I already know the key contact, I reintroduce or refresh their memory of our services and verify where there may be synergy. I also make additional introductions to my tier two idea clients. My approach is to build relationships that I can nurture and convert post-conference.
What tips do you have for WBEs to get the most out of their time at the National Conference & Business Fair?
Create a target list of about 10-20 companies you’d like to work with. Research the company, read their annual report and press releases, take a look at LinkedIn for key decision makers, and google the latest. Prepare an elevator-like speech and talk it through a few times. When you arrive, map your walking route and visit your Wish List first. Don’t pick up trinkets if you want business.
What should a every first-time attendee know about the conference before they arrive?
The conference is huge; it can be overwhelming and intimidating. However, the people are there because they want to do business with you if/when it is a right fit. So show up with a lot of business cards (including the WBE Seal). Arrive in time for the first-time attendee orientation and stay to the last day. Book early, be yourself, be professional, and look like a CEO in comfortable shoes even when traveling.