HP managing director: Big businesses have moral obligation to support small companies

Dan Martin
Former editor
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In an exclusive interview with BusinessZone.co.uk editor Dan Martin, Nick Wilson, the UK managing director for technology company HP, discusses how his business intends to increase the number of SMEs in its supply chain, why big corporates are obliged to support small firms and his response to the hugely popular 'I am not an SME, you patronising ***!' article.


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By Peter Cook
20th Jan 2012 13:21

I very much appreciate this video - good to see some signs that 'elephants' can work with 'fleas' often more effectively that the more usual situation 'Nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM, PWC, Capita yada yada.

That said, many large companies still have sourcing practices that unwittingly exclude smaller more nimble players via supplier questionnaires that ask questions such as 'turnover', number of employees etc.  Its what I call the 'man run over by bus syndrome' - Big companies are paranoid about such things.

Speaking personally I have a network of associates around Europe totalling around 50 but I cannot report this 'federal organisation chart' when asked the question 'how many employees do I have' so I fail the test on typical supplier questionnaires.  Once you get a 'no' in one box you tend to be eliminated.  

We need to find more intelligent questions to ask if 'elephants' are to profit from the efficiencies and effectiveness of the 'fleas' in the world...

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By Peter Quintana
20th Jan 2012 18:18

 I completely agree with Peter's comment above. Small businesses are increasingly innovating how to grow their work forces, through alliance and other forms of collaboration.

I too operate with a loose federation of associates, a dozen or so in my case, but have long since stopped wasting my time trying to bid for work with large companies and public sector as I don't, in my own right, have sufficient turnover to be able to considered credible. The returns, given the amount of effort required, simply do not stack up.

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By RobertCraven
21st Jan 2012 22:44

... but they just can't hear you!!!


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By Peter Cook
22nd Jan 2012 18:53

Yes Peter, some races are not worth running in and if it's impossible to change that, tis best not to enter the race.  Local Government contracts are of course even worse.

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By lordlancaster
23rd Jan 2012 10:09

Our programme, Shell LiveWIRE, has been around for 30yrs (since 1982) making it one of the longest running enterprise schemes in the UK.

Funded by Shell (the petrol company) as part of their Social Investment programme, the work is delivered by the PNE Group, a not-for-profit enterprise agency based in Newcastle/Gateshead.

No matter what you may think of a large corporation like Shell, I think they deserve credit for putting money into youth enterprise for so long and there are many great businesses and entrepreneurs out there today who have benefited from their support (both financial and in-kind).

If you'd like to know more about the Shell LiveWIRE programme and how it's delivered then please feel free to get in touch.

Paul Lancaster
Web Development Executive
0191 423 6239

Follow us on Twitter @ShellLiveWIREUK
‘Like’ our Facebook Page www.facebook.com/ShellLiveWIREUK
Visit our YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/ShellLiveWIREUK

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By Nick Wilson
27th Jan 2012 10:04

There’s some good comments here, so I'll try to reply.  The issue you raise about turnover and experience questions are just the sort of issues we want to address.  Our plan to increase the number of SMEs we source from and the amount of money we spend with this community. 

We do need to understand how big you are but we are genuinely looking for innovative technology and services that can add value to the solutions we create for our private and public sector customers.  So we really are quite happy when you tell us you are not a huge company with offices in 10 countries.

Already some 600 SME's (sorry it's just a phrase) supply to us and we'd like to increase that.  Becoming a registered supplier is pretty easy.. click this link and fill out the form http://www.hp.com/go/supplierdiversity

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By RobertCraven
16th Jul 2012 11:39

 Several people have asked whether HP ever came back to me and the answer is 'Yes'.

I have had several meetings with a specific director and have had a very constructive conversation. HP are pretty quiet/modest about their commitment to the small business community but they do recognise that they can significantly help smaller businesses (through their experience, size and reach as well as directly through suppliers programmes etc). At director level there is a commitment to add value to the small business community.

So, well done/hat tip to HP for going the extra mile to engage.


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