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A phrase of choice for Toni Y. Sylva, Director of Supplier Relations for The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is that she does not want businesses to survive she wants them to thrive. Bringing over 30 years of experience in Business Administration and Program Development to the position she has held since 2006, Sylva says her department is building the capacity of suppliers who are doing business with UPMC.
"We are building them to succeed in doing business not only with UPMC, but with other corporations and business entities within the region," said Sylva.
As a way to demonstrate their commitment to the minority, women-owned and veteran-owned suppliers they work with, UPMC recently held what they consider a first-of-its-kind business collaboration that brought together UPMC MWDBE suppliers; UPMC Supply Chain Management leadership; local corporations; city, county and state officials; governmental agencies, and executive leaders from vital organizations that support minority business growth and development.
"Our role as the largest employer in Western Pennsylvania and the largest economic driver is to help the region grow," pointed out UPMC's Gregory K. Peaslee, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer. "Programs like the Collaboration for Growth event puts us a step forward in that regard."
To do business with UPMC MWDBE Suppliers, for attending suppliers to share their supplier list with Corporate Pittsburgh and to show numbers and begin to report annually to the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council was a three-point challenge presented by UPMC Chief Financial Officer Rob DeMichiei during the event.
Deeming the Collaboration for Growth event a success, Sylva says for businesses to be successful they have to be diversified. "They can't just depend on one contract. The event put our venders in front of dozens of other corporations that are potential clients for them. The three point challenge by Mr. DeMichiei is a win-win situation for all parties involved."
With businesses of all levels participating in the program's Minority Business Development Initiative, Sylva explained that other than business, her goal is to provide education, training, mentoring and networking opportunities to MWDBE members.
Initiated in 1989, the UPMC Supplier Diversity Program was designed to provide MWDBEs equal access to procurement opportunities. The program, which Sylva says she reenergized and reshaped to be successful when she came on board, ensures that certified MWDBEs are provided the maximum opportunity to participate as partners and suppliers of goods and services to UPMC. "I try to connect businesses with the appropriate people and department within the system to get the business," she said UPMC, considered a world-renowned health care provider and insurer, is the largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania. It operates 22 academic, community, and specialty hospitals and 400 outpatient sites throughout western Pennsylvania and operates facilities internationally. Throughout the two systems, Sylva indicated that all products and services imaginable are needed in the health delivery and insurance services divisions.
To partake in the Supplier Diversity Program businesses must be MWDBE certified, maintain 51 percent ownership and maintain daily control of their business, be located in the U.S. or its territories and the owner must be a U.S. citizen.
Formerly vice president and Supplier Diversity Manager at PNC Financial Services Group, in her current position Sylva provides strategic direction to the Supplier Diversity Program; leads the Supply Chain Management Social Responsibility Program which is inclusive of the Green Initiative and has developed and deploys the Vendor Management Program.
Heavily involved in her field and the community, Sylva is an active member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council Health Care Industry Group, The Western Regional National Association of Minority Contractors, the National African American Leadership Association, Institute of Supply Management-Pittsburgh Diversity in Membership Committee, Ozanam Advisory Committee, MedAssets Supplier Diversity Advisory Committee, Each One, Teach One and Gwen's Girls, Inc. She has served on numerous boards and committees.
For her work and commitment, she has received many awards and accolades. Recently she traveled to Washington, DC to receive the FAH Corris Boyd Leadership and Diversity Award. Boyd, an African American healthcare executive was a believer that leadership development is critical to success and was devoted to the success of minority-and women-owned business enterprises. The award is said to honor an individual or company that has made outstanding contributions in fostering leadership and workforce diversity in the healthcare industry.
In the last several years Sylva, a Pittsburgh native has also been named by the Pittsburgh Business Times as one of the top 25 Women in Business, and UPMC has received the MedAssets Supplier Diversity Excellence Award, and the WPMSDC's Corporation of the Year Award.
"I don't do what I do for the awards," insists Sylva. "I do it because I love the work. It is meaningful to see the difference we are making in people's lives, people getting contracts and providing employment."
Mentioning that the UPMC Supplier Diversity Program works with businesses of all sizes, Sylva says their goal is to work with businesses to make them successful but that it is as important for the community to help in the process by providing support and utilizing their services. "We are all in this together."
UPMC's Toni Sylva helps MWDBEs become successful
by Diane I. Daniels
For New Pittsburgh Courier