“The opportunities that WBENC presents are many – opportunity for personal growth, mentorship, comradery, inspiration, to practice persistence and patience and lastly, the opportunity to get a corporate contract.”
Marie McGrath is the CEO of Demand Lighting. She was initially WBE certified in 2014 and has been a very active member ever since. Marie sits on the Austin Committee and won Regional Volunteer of the Year at the 2017 Parade of Stars Awards Gala.
How has WBCS membership benefitted your business?
Membership has helped me meet like-minded women, find comradery and mentorship, learn about the cornerstones of running a successful business, and of course meeting companies that are committed to diverse spending with women-owned businesses. I think the thing I am most happy with right now is my participation with the Toyota Mentorship program. This has been an outstanding program in which to participate. The two mentors I have been paired with are smart, articulate, and very eager to help. I would recommend all WBEs participate in any one of the mentorship programs available.
What is your favorite WBCS event and why?
From the national perspective, I like the annual WBENC Conference. It is not only a good networking event but it also inspires me. Seeing so many different women who are running successful businesses motivates me. It is a good way to meet them, talk about what has made them successful, and discover whether there are any WBE to WBE business opportunities. From the regional perspective, I really like the WBCS roundtable events. My newest favorite is the Power Pitch session at the Power to Potential event. I had the opportunity to participate in the Power Pitch and really enjoyed the experience.
What is the best reason for another WBE to get certified?
In a nutshell, that would be the opportunity. But don’t think of opportunity from one singular perspective – that of gaining a corporate contract. The opportunities that WBENC presents are many – opportunity for personal growth, mentorship, comradery, inspiration, to practice persistence and patience and lastly, the opportunity to get a corporate contract.
What is one thing you wish you knew about WBCS before joining?
I wish I knew that my sole focus should not be on gaining a corporate contract. There is so much more to gain from membership. You have to work at the WBENC network just like any other network to which you belong. Getting involved at the local level helps tremendously.
How did you make the most of your WBENC certification in your first year of membership?
During the first year of membership, I made it a point to go to as many of the regional and national events as possible. This helped me to figure out which events I should focus on and to meet people that would help me get more involved in WBENC.
How has WBCS helped you connect to other WBEs for mutually beneficial partnerships/business deals?
When you network with like-minded women opportunities will naturally present themselves. It makes tremendous sense to partner with women in similar industries or with those that present a natural compliment to a functionality that your business does not currently have. For me partnering with Energy Utility group has opened up a revenue source that may not have been available to Demand Lighting before.