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IBX Insights

Supplier Diversity is a Key Ingredient to Business Success

Gene Waddy sitting in front of some windows, smiling.

Gene Waddy, CEO of Alpha Business Solutions

Gene Waddy’s story as an entrepreneur started with a stumble. But instead of falling, he took a leap of faith and thrived.

Waddy was laid off by his employer, a major firm, in 2005. But with a wealth of experience in IT staffing and payroll management, he saw this as an opportunity to build something great.

A Diverse Business Success Story

“When I was laid off, it was like getting kicked out of the nest. But I landed in entrepreneurial heaven. Independence Blue Cross (IBX) was a big part of that,” says Waddy, now CEO of Alpha Business Solutions. “There are a number of challenges that come with starting a company, and one of those is access to capital. Even if you have significant professional experience, banks see new ventures as risks themselves. When I launched my first business, Diversant, having the early support of IBX made a huge difference.”

With Diversant, Waddy was able to help his clients find the right IT talent — skilled staff who could meet their individual needs — while also taking time to mentor other entrepreneurs from communities of color.

Launched in 2017, Alpha Business Solutions offers transformative diversity programs that help clients increase and manage diverse spending, while promoting diversity and inclusion in the supply chain and work force. Over the years, Alpha has emerged as one of IBX’s top suppliers, while also contributing to its own diversity initiatives.

“Gene and his companies — first Diversant, and later Alpha Business Solutions — have had a tremendous impact on us,” said Chuck Stefanosky, IBX supplier diversity director. “Their expertise has helped us onboard talented staff more quickly and economically than we’d done with other suppliers.”

“Independence Blue Cross’s dedication to supporting minority business enterprises through the Supplier Diversity Program really speaks volumes,” Waddy says. “They took a chance on us, and when I eventually sold Diversant and built Alpha Business Solutions, their commitment and our relationship continued to thrive.”

The Value of the IBX Networking Group

“One of the great things we’ve been able to achieve with Independence Blue Cross is the development of the IBX Networking Group. The group is an ecosystem of diverse professionals and minority-owned businesses that empowers and strengthens members professionally through mentorship and comradery,” Waddy shares. “It’s a way to pay it forward. We’re not in this game alone — we have to work together. IBX provides the environment for that ecosystem to grow.”

The IBX Networking Group participants look for ways to help each other create and expand opportunities. As of August 2023, the diverse businesses that are part of the IBX Networking Group have generated more than $30 million in pipeline opportunities with regional companies that can be directly attributed to their networking activities.

A Workforce that Resembles the Community it Serves

Waddy appreciates the way Independence Blue Cross recognizes the importance of strengthening and empowering a workforce — and a supplier base — that is representative of the region.

“The demographics of the country are changing, and more and more Black and Brown people are becoming economically empowered. Thriving, diverse businesses fuel that growth in a variety of ways,” Waddy explains.

“We must also focus on diverse-ownership culture. As an owner, you have skin in the game and a vested interest in the community around you. For me, that personal stake makes me constantly think about how to give back. It’s not just about legacy. It’s not just about money. It’s about the greater ecosystem. That’s important to me, and IBX understands that importance as well.”

IBX’s Supplier Diversity Program

IBX’s Supplier Diversity Program launched more than 30 years ago. Each year it helps create thousands of jobs while generating millions of dollars toward local, state, and federal economies.

“Once you say that you’re a supplier at Independence Blue Cross, people take notice, because if you can do it with them, you have a proven track record,” Waddy says. “Due to our relationship with IBX, we have closed and acquired at least three additional contracts with other Fortune 500 companies.”

“Working with Gene and his teams has been seamless,” added Stefanosky. “Gene came to us with a solution to onboard contractors that was a win for both of our organizations. He has been an incredible partner.”

Relationships that Matter

After almost two decades as a successful entrepreneur, Waddy has learned that it’s not just about the dollars and cents. What matters most is the help that can be offered to others.

“We all have a superpower, and we need a safe and nurturing place to learn how to use it. That’s what Independence Blue Cross offers,” Waddy shares. “They take the time to get to know their suppliers. That way, when they need something, they don’t have to be reactive. They know their partners. They’re proactive. It’s something that makes them really special.”

“Effective suppliers understand that impactful relationships are key to our shared success. I consider Gene to be a trusted advisor, and he frequently asks me what he can do for IBX,” continued Stefanosky. “In addition to the work that his company performs for Independence Blue Cross, he is one of my ‘go-to’ sources to find other best-in-class, high-performing, diverse suppliers. Everyone needs a person like Gene as a trusted advisor.”

IBX Insights Team

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