Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council’s Shelia Morgan talks business

ChgoMSDC Shelia Morgan Exec Port 031014

(Photo credit: Victor Powell for Powell Photography Inc.)

As a seasoned business diversity veteran, Shelia Morgan has had extensive experience with a number of Fortune 500 corporations. She’s 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.

Most recently, Morgan served as executive director of the Chicago Minority Business Opportunity Committee, and is currently president and CEO of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council, where she looks to continue to forge strategic alliances between Chicago MSDC’s membership and its base of certified minority businesses through innovative programs, activities and outreach efforts, including the highly successful upcoming 48th annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair, whose success is a prototype for similar trade fairs nationwide.

Rolling out recently sat down with Morgan to discuss her start in business, three factors she feels women need to be successful in business, and what to expect from the 48th annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair.

Were you always intrigued with the business world as a child? Perhaps the enterprising 9-year- old with the thriving lemonade stand?
Yes, I think I have always been intrigued with business. As I child I probably did not understand that it was a passion, but I can recall writing a resume to become a babysitter. A dear friend of mine and I opened a summer learning center for younger children at age 15/16. We had to secure everything to run the business; I have always been driven to support and develop business skill sets for myself and others. Back then I didn’t think of it as business or entrepreneurial, but it absolutely was!

How did you get your start in the business world?
Actually the business world found me. I recollect wanting to find a J.O.B; I needed to work. I started my career at Carter Carburetor, a St. Louis manufacturing company, in the “tool room.” I became a computer programmer and as a result, my business career took off and flourished. The rest is history. I can absolutely say, however, I found my true passion when I was introduced to workplace business diversity. My vocation and avocation became one.

Tell us about your stint as executive director of the Minority Business Opportunity Committee?
Being executive director of the Minority Business Opportunity Committee is one of the highlights of my career. I had total responsibility for the initiative and frankly, that leadership helped prepare me for my current position as president and CEO of the Chicago Minority Business Development Council. As a passionate, committed minority business professional, the MBOC allowed me to touch and truly impact the growth and development of minority businesses as well as create jobs. Also, I had the opportunity to actually shape an enterprise program that today is positioned throughout the nation. The current MBDA business center program is a derivative of the MBOC.

As president and CEO of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council what do your duties entail?
Chief cook and bottle washer! Just kidding. As CEO of one of the largest councils in the NMSDC network, I am responsible for top-down and bottom up, day-to-day management of the organization, including the profit and loss of this $3.5 million dollar business organization. I build relationships with major corporations and MBEs for the purpose of business commerce. We touch every industry including professional services, janitorial services, construction, commodities and distribution. I go from the boiler room to the boardroom! I love the work. It’s extremely rewarding and I know my efforts are making a difference in the communities we serve each and every day.

What can you tell us about next month’s 48th annual Chicago Business Opportunity Fair?
“Reset, Revamp, Accelerate at CBOF 48” is the theme for the 2015 Chicago Business Opportunity Fair. I can tell you we have business changing seminars planned, a robust awards ceremony where we honor buyers, and minority businesses; we will confer an award to the “Corporation of the Year” (our highest honor); a “Sponsors Breakfast” which generally host approximately 1000 major buying organizations, certified MBEs and government entities, as well as a world-class business to business trade fair; CBOF culminates with the “Topping Out” reception at the end of the second day. CBOF is the best opportunity in Chicagoland to meet and make connections with businesses seeking to do business with minority owned, operated and controlled business. It’s a salesman’s dream.

In your opinion what are the three most successful factors in being a successful businesswoman?
Vision, commitment and tenacity

How do you utilize social media to your advantage?
So glad you asked that question. Social media, if utilized properly, is a game changer and even field player tool. I do not utilize it nearly enough, but I am convinced proper utilization can make a difference in the life of any business professional as well as any business.

Name a book that changed how you saw life and you’d strongly recommend to others?
I’ll give you three. None of Us Is As Great As the Sum of Us by Pat Harris, COD McDonald’s Corp., The Shack by William Paul Young, and Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

Any favorite quotes or affirmations?
“To whom much is given, much is required and to God be the glory!”

What’s next for Shelia Morgan?
Motivational speaking for women.

For more information on Shelia Morgan and the 2015 Chicago Business Opportunity Fair, please visit

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