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Media Release: 2019 Supplier Diversity Awards Winners

Toronto November 18, 2019 – For immediate release

It is with great pleasure that WBE Canada announces the winners of its 2019 Awards celebrating Supplier Diversity.  As part of its 10th Annual Conference, the “Supplier Diversity Awards” were handed out November 14, 2019 during the “Celebrating Success” Gala sponsored by GM, BMO, IBM, RBC, SHI Canada and Cotton Candy. Highlighting the evening was keynote speaker Manjit Minhas, founder of Minhas Breweries and co-star of CBC’s Dragon’s Den who spoke on “Empowering Women Achieving Business Success in Male-Dominated Industries”. 

WBE Canada’s Supplier Diversity Awards recognize the significant contributions made by corporations and leaders to the economic advancement of women-owned businesses in Canada and the achievement of Canadian women-owned businesses. Following are the 2019 winners by category. 


2019 Rising Star – Robinson Global Management Inc.

Andrea Robinson receiving 2019 Rising Star award. Left to right: Silvia Pencak (WBE Canada), Andrea Robinson (Robinson Global Management Inc.), Michael Bourne (IBM Canada)

The 2019 Rising Star is awarded to a certified WBE, who in the first 3 years of their certification, has demonstrated significant achievements or progress. This award was sponsored by IBM Canada.  

2019 Rising Star winner, Robinson Global Management Inc. is a multidisciplinary management consulting firm specializing in public sector procurement, dispute resolution, process risk review, negotiation and contract management. Since certifying with WBE Canada in June of this year, just 5 months ago, Robinson Global Management has achieved outstanding success and has already received in excess of $100,000 in contracts from WBE Canada Corporate Members. Certification has resulted in greater access to bidding opportunities, both broader and more focused business promotion and development advantages which have generated both new contracts and solidified existing relationships. 


2019 Supplier Diversity Leader

This award recognizes a procurement professional within WBE Canada’s Corporate Member organization who is a champion among peers, shows tremendous leadership while leveraging innovation to advance supplier diversity. Award was sponsored by SHI Canada, WBE Canada’s newest Corporate Member. This year two individuals were recognized as role models internally with colleagues and externally with vendor partners and as supplier diversity champions.

Marc Mallais, ABC Group Technologies

Marc Mallais
Marc Mallais receiving 2019 Supplier Diversity Leader award. Left to right: Cheryl Stookes (SHI Canada), Marc Mallais (ABC Technologies), Silvia Pencak (WBE Canada)

Marc Mallais is Logistics Manager at ABC Technologies and was nominated by Rosa Turchio, President of Cargo Partners International Inc. Marc is recognized for his dedication to the success of women-owned businesses through his advocacy of WBE Canada certification, sharing of best practices and business development knowledge and mentorship.  Marc is acknowledged for taking a fledgling business under his wing, introducing them to supplier diversity, helping them grow through exposure to opportunities and steering them to success.  

Kiruba Sankar, RBC

Kiruba Sankar receiving 2019 Supplier Diversity Leader award. Left to right: Cheryl Stookes (SHI Canada), Kiruba Sankar (RBC), Silvia Pencak (WBE Canada)

Kiruba Sankar is Global Procurement Leader, IT Sourcing and Supply Chain, Global Supplier Diversity at RBC and is recognized for his tireless efforts to promote WBE Canada at the corporate and government level.  Since joining WBE Canada’s Board of Directors, Kiruba has focused on building the “Business Development Committee” to support Corporate Membership and the growth and expansion of resource development. Kiruba continually supports WBE Canada events across Canada introducing WBE Canada to multiple corporations and continually promoting the organization to Tier 1 suppliers. 


2019 WBE Stars 

2019 WBE Stars recipients. Left to right: Silvia Pencak (WBE Canada), Barbara Mowat (on behalf of Eva Sun, Libra National Inc.), Lisa Siragusa (NRG TeleResources), Shanda Butler (on behalf of Sherry Isnor, Design Marketing), Catherine Grosz (BMO). Missing in the picture: Maryse Benhoff (BG Communications), Eva Sun (Libra National Inc.)

Sponsored by BMO, this category recognizes certified WBEs across Canada who are significantly contributing to their industry or region’s economic development as well as community.  There are four recipients of this award representing four regions in Canada: WBE Star: East (Atlantic Canada), WBE Star: Quebec, WBE Star: Ontario and WBE Star: West.

WBE Star: East – Sherry Isnor, President, Design Marketing Ltd. is recognized for having worked smartly to understand and leverage her certification in Atlantic Canada, nationally and internationally.  She also invests her time to ensure other women businesses learn from her experiences. Sherry has been a frequent speaker at local supplier diversity events – from a panelist to hosting a roundtable answering questions from a WBE perspective.

WBE Star: Quebec – Maryse Benhoff, President, BG Communications International Inc. is not only running a successful business, but she also cares about the community she is part of. She sits on multiple boards and committees, contributing her expertise and experiences and impacting many around her.She and her team have been supporting WBE Canada, our regional partner organization RFAQ and many other organizations and she continues to represent Canadian WBEs on the Supplier Advisory Committee. 

WBE Star: Ontario – Lisa Siragusa, President, NRG TeleResources Inc. is a true leader and community builder. Not only does she represent WBEs on Supplier Advisory Committee, but she is also a great champion of the WBE community having  traveled with WBE Canada to multiple locations across Canada to support the WBE community. Lis tirelessly provides her advice, support and helping hand to both new and seasoned WBEs. Lisa Siragusa is a true champion and even though her term on the Supplier Advisory Committee is coming to an end this year, her hand is already up to support WBE Canada in new ways.

WBE Star: West – Eva Sun, President, Libra National Inc. (The Rice People) was one of the first certified women-owned businesses in Canada.  Eva consistently shares her knowledge not only in the world of rice, but also influences the food industry as a whole. Eva is committed to community and to helping others in the industry. She promotes and advocates the importance of global trade organizations and businesses helping businesses and has been a strong supporter of WBE Canada since 2009.


2019 Most Improved Supplier Diversity Program – BMO

BMO Team receiving 2019 Most Improved Supplier Diversity Program award. Left to right: Silvia Pencak (WBE Canada), Kim Orzech (BMO), Priscilla Ncube (BMO), Catherine Grosz (BMO), Christopher Zolumoff (BMO), Matthew Williams (BMO), James Lin (BMO), Julianna Horvat (Webnames)

WBE Canada’s award for 2019 Most improved Supplier Diversity Program recognizes a WBE Canada Corporate Member who significantly improved its supplier diversity program to support Canadian Certified WBEs. 

At BMO, diversity is one of their core values that enables them to deliver on their vision of being the bank that defines great customer service. Their Supplier Diversity Program is embedded within their procurement practices allowing them to deliver leading products and services that meet customer’s needs resulting in a stronger, more innovative company. 

To that end, BMO consistently strives to improve and build upon the core framework of ensuring diversity within all aspects of their business. As one example, in the past year they launched their “Top Supplier Outreach” program. In reaching out to their top key suppliers they discovered that most either did not have a Supplier Diversity Program in place or were not aware of Supplier Diversity at all.  As a result, over the past 6 months, the BMO Supplier Diversity Team educated connected and engaged with 30 suppliers in Canada alone. The result? 2 Newly Certified Suppliers, 9 new suppliers reporting spend with BMO and 19 suppliers currently building their programs and continuing conversations with BMO. 

The list of initiatives BMO has undertaken continue to grow and new programs continue to evolve.  From partnerships with peer advisory groups, advancing billions in capital to women-business owners across Canada, becoming the first Canadian bank to sign the UN Women’s Empowerment Principals, and continuing to celebrate women in local communities, this is the legacy BMO has built and continues to build as they move Supplier Diversity to the next level within BMO , reaching into the communities it works with and serves.


2019 Top WBE Supplier – Cargo Partners International Inc.

Cargo Partners International Inc. receiving 2019 Top WBE Supplier award.

WBE Canada’s Top WBE Supplier award recognizes a certified women-owned business who demonstrated excellence in business, namely through growth, accomplishments, impact on the economy and dedication to community service. This award was sponsored by GM and winner also received Tuck Scholarship to encourage continual learning and development of top Canadian women-owned businesses. 

2019 Top WBE Supplier awards was awarded to Cargo Partners International Inc., a freight forwarding company moving cargo around the world by air, ocean and ground. Cargo Partners International Inc. is a true success story, in large part because of its current President, Rosa Turchio. Cargo Partners was founded in 2000 and in 2008 Rosa seized the opportunity to become a minority shareholder in the company. And then in 2011 she suddenly found herself the owner. As a result of “trusting the wrong people”, Cargo Partners was on the verge of bankruptcy.  Down in spirit but not defeated and definitely not about to let her company down, Rosa turned to companies Cargo Partners was already doing business with ABC Group Technologies who answered the call. 

The first order of business was for Cargo Partners International to become WBE Canada Certified. From there Rosa and her team learned how to do and grow her business and how to grow as a woman-owned business and succeed. Since 2011 when Rosa took over Cargo Partners International, she has grown her business 473% and global expansion is on the horizon.  Between 2017 and 2018 alone Cargo Partners International grew over 11%.


2019 Top Corporation in Supplier Diversity – BGIS Global Integrated Solutions

BGIS Team accepting 2019 Top Corporation in Supplier Diversity award. Left to right: Silvia Pencak (WBE Canada), John Castelhano, Bahareh Razpoush, Sylvie Weaire, Kim Preston, Jyoti Sihna, Rusalena MacDougall, Michelle Walker (all BGIS), Marco Perez (RBC)

WBE Canada’s Top Corporation in Supplier Diversity award is the highest recognition of organization’s achievements in supplier diversity benefiting Canadian women-owned businesses. This year’s award was sponsored by RBC. 

2019 Top Corporation in Supplier Diversity winner – BGIS believes supplier diversity is an important contributor to its corporate mission of ensuring they are being inclusive in their supply chain practices. In 2015 BGIS “reset” its Supplier Diversity Strategy and action plan and since then has exhibited steady year-over-year progress.  Diversity and Inclusion remain a top priority through all of BGIS’ daily operations and is continually working on advancing their supplier diversity programs. In 2018 they initiated Tier 2 spend reporting and in 2019 is working to expand reporting to other suppliers who subcontract their services.  In August of this year, BGIS was a guest host of one of WBE Canada’s “Meet the Buyer” webinar sessions. As a result they connected with several WBEs and currently BGIS is in the process of promoting these women-owned businesses internally to their client accounts as well as providing introductions with some of their Tier one suppliers. 

BGIS Global Integrated Solutions has become an active and committed Corporate Member of WBE Canada just in the past 12 months and are honoured for their dedication to continually working on advancing its Supplier Diversity programs internally, impacting the success of women -owned businesses specifically and the resulting growth of the Canadian economy. 


2019 WBE Canada Champion – Catherine Grosz, BMO

Catherine Grosz accepting 2019 WBE Canada Champion award

WBE Canada Champion award recognizes an individual or organization who referred the most companies/businesses to WBE Canada, tracked through Certification and Corporate membership applications.

2019 winner, Catherine Grosz is Manager, Supplier Diversity at BMO and is a passionate advocate for is a passionate advocate for Canadian supplier diversity and promoter of diverse suppliers, setting a strong example for other procurement leaders across Canada. When asked to share her favourite story or achievement she has witnessed in the supplier diversity space, she is ready to respond: “Watching small businesses grow into medium and large business through our support and mentorship, makes me so proud to do the work I do.” Since 2014 this Catherine has been a member of the WBE Canada Board of directors and in 2016  was elected as Board Chair of WBE Canada relentlessly supporting the organization, team and community, always going above and beyond, but most importantly, continually encouraging women-owned businesses to certify and corporations to support WBE Canada. 

2019 President’s Award – BDC 

BDC Team accepting 2019 President’s Award. Left to right: Silvia Pencak (WBE Canada), Claudine Pilon (BDC), Laura Didyk (BDC), Maude Pariseau (BDC), Lesley Lawrence (BDC), Brooke Gordon (BDC)

President’s Award recognizes an individual or organization that significantly contributed to the awareness around WBE Canada, supplier diversity, or promotion of Canadian women in business. This year’s award was sponsored by Cotton Candy. 

In February 2019, with the support of WBE Canada, BDC successfully launched a national supplier diversity program. The program encourages more than 60,000 clients, and diverse suppliers to register for procurement opportunities at BDC, while educating staff who lead purchasing decisions about the value of supplier diversity

Over the past three years, BDC has already doubled the number of women entrepreneurs it finances. In 2018, the Bank committed to lending $1.4 billion to women-led businesses by 2021. That same year, BDC almost tripled the size of its Women in Technology Venture Fund to $200 million, making it the world’s largest venture fund investing solely in women in tech. In addition, the Bank hosts and sponsors many events across the country and provides countless free resources in conjunction with like-minded organizations, like WBE Canada, to help women succeed in Canada and abroad. 

Congratulations to the winners of 2019 WBE Canada Supplier Diversity Awards!  

Thank you to our sponsors for making WBE Canada’s 10th Annual Conference & 2019 Supplier Diversity Awards Gala an unforgettable experience! 

2019 WBE Canada Conference Sponsors

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