Tackling diversity though data and technology

Overland-Tandberg is a global technology company serving over 100 countries. We spoke to its Chairman and CEO, Eric Kelly

Currently Celebrating 40 years in operations while pursuing ‘Excellence Through Global Intellect and Inclusiveness,’ Overland-Tandberg is empowering businesses, large and small, to securely manage and protect their digital assets.

As Chairman and CEO, Eric Kelly takes a dynamic role in leading the company in its global growth strategy. This has involved an important collaboration with one of the world’s leading banking corporations, JP Morgan Chase, that is expanding the company’s mandate of improving global diversity in the corporate and technology sectors. 

Kelly says Overland-Tandberg was on the lookout for a partnership with a bank to fit the company’s growing, global footprint. “We actually started off discussing the banking relationship, and then it quickly moved into a symbiotic partnership—they became our corporate sponsor, and we were able to support their requirements with four decades of enterprise technology solutions, expertise, and global operations.  This is paradoxical as oftentimes, diverse companies are overlooked due to exposure and  the perception of being small and localized. We were pleased that JPMC understood the requirements of a corporate partner and put words into action. They have been an incredible partner and are leading the effort to show the benefits of having diverse partnerships. The key is having a corporate sponsor that understands what diverse companies with a national or global presence can achieve when they have a sponsor.”

The collaboration has gained momentum and velocity, with Overland-Tandberg carrying out business with JPMC on the supplier diversity side, working with their chief procurement officer and their supplier diversity group. “We started doing business with JPMC globally, from the US throughout Latin America/ Mexico and are currently having conversations on ways to expand the partnership to other countries around the world,” Kelly explains. “ As our sponsor they not only supported us  for us inside of JPMC, they also became a sponsor for us with other Fortune 50 corporations.

 

Established trust and success

Kelly points to Overland-Tandberg’s long history when he speaks about the company’s robust reputation in the marketplace. As one of the longest established black owned global technology companies, it has built up a respected position. Our vision of “Global Intellect and Inclusiveness” is the ethos that drives the organization – this vision allows us to have a comprehensive understanding of diversity and inclusion.

“We're a bit different. Our company has a comprehensive solution mindset— addressing the demands of home offices, small businesses, and large enterprises as well.  Moreover, it’s rare to find a heritage in technology that has been around for over 40 years. So, when you look at the success, ours is one of longevity and staying progressive, with the right balance of innovation and scale. We have done a very good job in terms of representing our partners, as a trusted partner to companies around the world, and continuing to exceed the expectation of our customers.”

Kelly points to a culture of inclusivity as a main driver for the company’s current positioning. He says, “Our success is really understanding how to work with our partners on a global basis. We have a corporate mantra here we call global intellect and inclusiveness – being a global company, cultures, values, and other differences matter and we stay close to the regional requirements and fuse those rich insights into meaningful messaging and execution. We want to make sure we understand how to do business there in London, or how to do business in Germany, how we do business in Japan as those markets are all different. Inclusiveness is one of our central attributes that seems to be beneficial to the companies that we work with as well as aligning our corporate ethos worldwide.”

 

Diversity and data challenges

Multinationals and foreign companies experience the same degree of challenge finding black-owned businesses as seen in the US, says Kelly, who points to the fact that access, availability, and awareness of diverse businesses outside the US, is an ongoing challenge. 

“There are organizations here in the US that showcase specifically black owned businesses, and diverse companies,” he elaborates. “But I think that from a multinational standpoint of foreign companies, it's one of access and availability and awareness. How do you find diverse companies specifically when there's not really any technology that's designed to provide that information?”

He continues, “The world is digital and getting smaller. If you're a US company you're directly or indirectly doing business globally. This challenge has been constant, which led me to leveraging my history in technology to focus on creating a platform that could align these resources across industry and essentially play a key role in closing the digital and diversity divide.” It’s called Bridge 2 Technologies.

 

Bridge 2 Technologies and creating inclusion

Bridge 2 Technologies (B2T) is spanning the digital and diversity divide. The concept and vision of B2T was to provide the ability for corporations and diverse companies to connect, develop partnerships, access to resources, capital and much more. 

The aim is to assist corporations and diverse companies to learn about each other, to collaborate, to provide mentorship and to scale partnerships. Kelly explains, “The value proposition of working with diverse companies is already proven to enhance the bottom line for corporations. Everybody now understands it is important on a number of different levels, geo-political or otherwise, to truly have diversity connected with your corporation and your overall strategy.”

He points out that the term ‘diversity’ is also often narrowly applied. He uses the example of B2T’s own team, saying that diversity should not just be about being black or white or focused on gender. Rather, it is about full inclusivity. “It’s about geography, diversity of age – and what everyone brings to the table – whether you are in your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties or sixties.”

Kelly adds, “Just understanding the different, global intellectual frameworks, understanding how they do business in those regions and locally, makes a big difference in terms of how you work with them. That’s true globally – and even in the US, where we have micro cultures. Doing business in New York is different from doing business here in Silicon Valley or Atlanta, for example. I always say we have more in common than we do differences, but understanding the differences is so important.”

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