Purdue Profiles: Jesse Moore
Jesse Moore, director of Purdue’s Office of Supplier Diversity. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
Editor's note: Each Tuesday, Purdue Profiles gives an inside look at the people on our campus. If you would like to suggest someone to be featured in Purdue Profiles, contact Valerie O'Brien at PurdueToday@purdue.edu or 494-9573.
Jesse Moore is the first and only director of Purdue’s Office of Supplier Diversity. The office was created in 2005 to help minority- and women-owned businesses work with the University. Greater Lafayette Commerce honored the office last month with the Diversity Roundtable 2010 Workforce Diversity Best Practices Award.
Why is there a need for a supplier diversity office?
Historically some groups have not been fully engaged in our society with regard to purchasing and contracting. There are many reasons for them being left out, but some businesses have not been participants simply because of the location of the opportunities. The bulk of the diverse businesses in Indiana are located in central and northwestern sectors of the state. Purdue is located in between those two locations. If small businesses don’t know of the opportunities at Purdue and don’t feel there are real opportunities for them here, then they will go where they believe the fishing will be better for them. We focus on making sure everyone knows of the real opportunities that exist here, especially those constituents that have not been participants in the past.
Why did you decide to lead Purdue’s Office of Supplier Diversity?
When I heard about the job at Purdue, I thought it was exciting from the perspective of being able to create something from nothing. It was exciting from the perspective of having the support of the Board of Trustees, the president and other top administrators. That support is a necessary ingredient if you’re going to be successful and it exists at Purdue. I have been in business development, economic development and advocacy for small diverse businesses all of my adult life. I’ve worked with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indianapolis chambers of commerce. I was executive director of the Indianapolis Black Chamber of Commerce, so supplier diversity was not that far of a step from business advocacy. I thought it was a good match of my skills and my passion.
What groups of business owners does your office work with?
The good thing about supplier diversity is that it is very diverse. We focus on businesses that have not been represented in any large number in the past. Those would include, but certainly not limited to, African-American businesses, Hispanic businesses, Asian-American businesses and women-owned businesses. We also welcome veteran-owned businesses. Our goal is to make sure we are as inclusive and welcoming as possible in purchasing and contracting.
What does supplier diversity mean for Purdue and the business community here?
Purdue is one of the largest employers in Greater Lafayette. Doing business with Purdue opens up a lot of opportunities for small diverse firms. It allows companies that may not have been a partner with us to earn revenue, strengthen their business and increase the tax base. Purdue also uses its clout to provide role modeling for other firms in the area of supplier diversity. Purdue is a founding member of the Supplier Diversity Coalition of Greater Lafayette. The coalition is a group of companies in Greater Lafayette committed to expanding opportunities for diverse companies to do business in our community.
What is the most significant program the office puts on annually?
Our Relationship to Partnerships Sessions, which will be held Nov. 9, has become the region’s premier event in regards to supplier diversity. It started out as a way to bring diverse firms onto the campus to meet with Purdue buyers. Now, not only do those firms meet with our Purdue buyers, but other local companies like Caterpillar, Evonik, State Farm, Ivy Tech, Alcoa, Freitag-Weinhardt Inc., Greater Lafayette Commerce, Vectren and Wabash National send their buyers and contracting staff to meet with the diverse firms who travel to Lafayette to attend the sessions. All of these companies are committed to increasing opportunities for diverse and women firms. We’ve had as many as 250 diverse firms on campus during this program. It’s another way we’ve been able to show our commitment to supplier diversity and diversity in general.
You also have spent time volunteering with the Hanna Community Center and the Greater Lafayette Indiana Black Expo. How valuable have those experiences been to your job?
I don’t know if there is a direct correlation, but I’ve been involved with nonprofit volunteer work all of my life. I was taught volunteering was the price of admission to a fulfilled life. I help wherever I can. Whether it’s my work with the Hanna Center or in the Purdue Supplier Diversity office, it’s all about touching people. If my work with nonprofits makes it easier for Purdue to reach out to minority- and women-owned businesses, then it’s all worth it.
For more information on the Office of Supplier Diversity, visit www.purdue.edu/supplierdiversity/.