The Walt Disney Company is known for creating magical moments that bring joy and happiness to families, but they should also be known for their commitment to ensuring Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs) are included as an important part of their sourcing. They make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to share in creating the magic that Disney is known for.
Disney has a phenomenal team of dedicated supplier diversity professionals who identify qualified minority and woman-owned businesses and build relationships with these businesses that help them grow and prosper. I would like to recognize one of these dedicated individuals, Matt Thursam, Supplier Diversity Manager for Walt Disney Resorts and congratulate him on being recognized as a 2013 Champion of Diversity by DiversityBusiness.com.
Matt has been a part of The Walt Disney Company for 41 years; he started during college working as an employee in the park. He loved the culture of the company; working at the Happiest Place on Earth appealed to him! Matt wanted a career there with the ability to contribute to Disney’s long term growth and success and after graduation took a job in sourcing. Over the years Matt has held various positions within the sourcing team and since 2006 has served as Supplier Diversity Manager. Matt plays an active role representing Walt Disney within the diversity community by mentoring and sharing his expertise. His success in increasing Disney’s diversity spend is a benefit to both his company and the MWBEs that he partners with.
His commitment extends beyond just business hours or working on Disney’s behalf. He currently sits on the Certification Review Committee for the Florida Minority Supplier Development Council (FMSDC), was previously the President of the FMSDC, was a Board member for the Hispanic Business Council-Osceola County, served as the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Chair, and sponsors the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund.
Matt has been honored with other awards throughout his career, including being named one of the Top Diverse Coordinators by the FMSDC and also being recognized by NWBOC for Supplier Diversity but today let’s congratulate him on his most recent award! I am honored to have had the privilege to speak with Matt as he graciously agreed to share some advice and his perspective on diversity. Speaking with Matt was almost as much fun as a day at the theme park itself!
Q. What does it mean for you to have been recognized as a Champion of Diversity?
A. I am honored and want to mention that I feel this is truly a team effort. For me, supplier diversity has been my passion for many years; I recently came across an interview I took part in back in 1988 when I was in a sourcing role; I mentioned how Supplier Diversity would be one of my personal goals. Looking back, it’s is such a privilege to have been recognized for something I envisioned!
Q. What is the most satisfying part about your job in Supplier Diversity?
A. My role is very rewarding because it is a giving role, Supplier Diversity is not just about bringing in suppliers, it is about getting involved with local groups and providing leadership as well as helping our community. I am of proud of what we do as we aspire to be much more. There is always room for growth in a position such as mine, the more we as supplier diversity professionals share with one another, the better we become in doing our jobs.
Q. What challenges have you seen with suppliers looking to approach your company?
A. When I host a workshop or speak at an informational or procurement event, I notice averages of ten percent only that follow up. My question is – why didn’t the other ninety percent reach out? I understand the time and costs that are involved for smaller businesses, but how we can teach suppliers the appropriate steps previous to an event such as these, so that it can be a success.
Q. What advice do you feel is valuable for suppliers who are looking to do business with Walt Disney?
A. I would highly recommend that MWBE’s dedicate time to learn about our company and our initiatives. Be prepared and this will ensure that you are connecting with the right person within our company. It is very helpful for a supplier looking to work with Walt Disney to reach out to others who have done business with us before; both those who have been successful and those who have not. Learn from their experiences.
Understand the importance of building a relationship; this establishes a level of trust. If we are assisting a smaller business in the development of their growth, we will provide them with a project that is within reach so that we can get a feel for the potential of the supplier.
We thank Matt, and those like him that share their expertise. Thanks to his contributions and his sincere and caring efforts in championing supplier diversity, the MWBE community will continue to grow and succeed! This is a commitment The Walt Disney company has made and will continue to support but it is the individuals like Matt that make it a reality and put that commitment into action. For more information on their supplier diversity program, please visit: www.supplierdiversity.disney.com
Thank you for your time Matt.
Corporate Outreach Manager