"Attending events such as Harvesting Partnerships and Power to Potential have provided the opportunity to introduce me and my business to corporations that I may not otherwise have had the chance to meet. A recent introduction to a Sustaining (Corporate) Member at an event led to a conversation that eventually turned into a contract." - Molly Sandlin, President of CAET Project Management Consultants
Molly Sandlin is the President of CAET Project Management Consultants, a firm that provides a variety of services including owner representation and construction, project, and contract administration management. Their goal is to develop and implement strategic projects that lead to success and growth. The company has been a certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) and member of the Women's Business Council - Southwest for three years. As soon as Molly received her certification, she jumped right into getting involved with WBCS, which earned her the 2018 Parade of Stars Rising Star award. We asked her to provide her insights on how she has found success through building relationships within the network.
What is your favorite WBCS event and why?
The annual awards gala is my favorite for a lot of reasons. I attended my first gala within months of being certified. When I walked into the banquet room there were hundreds of amazing people. I saw C-level executives, buyers, fellow women business owners and team members but I knew maybe five or so people. It was slightly uncomfortable but highly encouraging. I knew that I would attend the next year but next time it was going to be different.
I started volunteering and thinking of ways that I was going to make the most of membership and how to know more people next year. One way was becoming a sponsor and having a table to fill. My firm was small and didn’t fill the table so I invited some other new WBEs to join us. I wanted to share the experience with someone who might have otherwise been uncomfortable without a “wingman”. Everyone is there to have a great time and celebrate the success of the other WBEs but it can be really hard to start the first conversation.
Winning the Rising Star award in 2018 was truly amazing and surprising. I was honored to be recognized with so many other newly certified WBEs. The support of the other WBEs, council and corporate members continued into the 2019 gala when CAET PMC was nominated for WBE of the Year and I was nominated for Advocate AND Volunteer of the Year. I was nominated into the same space as some other remarkable women and businesses – I have never felt that kind of a belonging and honor with any other group. It was also at this event that we had the opportunity to discuss the final details before entering into a contract with our newest client! Something amazing has happened for me and my business at this event every year - I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings!
What is the best reason for a women-owned business to get her Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certification?
Networking. As a certified WBE you gain a platform to connect and learn from those who have experience navigating entrepreneurship, as well as the chance to build relationships with corporate contacts. Networking with fellow WBEs with the intention to offer support and mentorship is important. It also opens doors to potential partnerships and new revenue opportunities.
What is one thing you wish you knew about WBCS before joining?
I think I came into WBCS with eyes wide open and open to the possibilities. From working in corporate prior to starting my firm, I saw what businesses had to do to get in the door. I knew that certification would not be a magic diet pill – this was going to require a lot of work. I do hear a lot of new members talk about feeling discouraged that the contracts are instant after certification. I can relate, it’s disappointing that you don’t get a contract right out of the gate but relationships take time. The buyers and supplier diversity managers make some amazing efforts to get to know the WBEs. Contract or not, I have had numerous supplier diversity managers make introductions and promote me to their colleagues at other corporations. It’s an amazing feeling.
How did you make the most of your WBENC certification in your first year of membership?
Knowing how essential networking is to success, I made it a point to be involved and attend as many events as possible. To give back I volunteer for support at events, perform certification site visits and help advise other woman-owned businesses on how to make the most of her certification. I was so proud when CAET was given the WBE Rising Star award due to our support of and involvement in the organization.
How has WBE certification helped you build relationships with corporate representatives?
Attending events such as Harvesting Partnerships and Power to Potential have provided the opportunity to introduce me and my business to corporations that I may not otherwise have had the chance to meet. A recent introduction to a Sustaining (Corporate) Member at an event led to a conversation that eventually turned into a contract. CAET provides project management for corporate projects and being WBE certified gives us a tool to market our services.