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Symposium provides women-owned small businesses advice, networking opportunities

More than 65 women-owned small businesses (WOSB) took part in an event hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) at the agency’s Headquarters on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, March 24.

The symposium, titled “Business Smart, Business Savvy: Women Boldly Blazing Brilliant Solutions,” provided an opportunity for attendees to learn about the basic requirements to do business with the federal government, what WOSBs need to do to get noticed by government agencies, and how teaming up with large-to-mid-sized businesses can benefit them.

It also provided an opportunity for networking among attendees.

“I believe everything we do at DISA in terms of the OSBP needs to be interactive,” said OSBP Director Sharon Jones. “Women need to work together, go after acquisitions together, and we need you to tell us what works best for you and your business.”

“Women need to self-promote,” she continued. “Today is all about your self-promotion. It is very important that you talk about you and the things that you do. I cannot stress that enough. Today is also about you obtaining information that you will need to be successful in your company.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Government Contracting Women-Owned Small Businesses Program was established in February 2011 with the primary objective of expanding the number of agencies where WOSBs were able to compete for business with the federal government. 

Amy Kim, SBA Office of Government Contracting Women-Owned Small Businesses Program manager, participated in the symposium and provided information about the program, as well as the steps attendees need to take to become a member of the program.

Eligibility for the SBA’s WOSB program requires that a WOSB is at least 51-percent owned by a woman who is a U.S. citizen, holds the highest officer position, manages the day-to-day operations, and makes long-term decisions for the business.

DISA Vice Director Air Force Maj Gen Sarah Zabel thanked the WOSB companies for their attendance and participation in the event. 

“I am very happy you are able to spend your time here at DISA to talk to us, to talk to each other, and to see there are some win-win situations here among each of your businesses and your relationship with DISA,” said Zabel. 

The symposium provided attendees several networking opportunities, including a luncheon that provided time for WOSB representatives to meet one another and spend one-on-one time with DISA’s OSBP team.

DISA’s Resource Management Center Director and Comptroller, Sannadean Sims, provided attendees with information about the preparation process –– taking the time to learn about DISA prior to the first meeting with DISA senior staff and program managers, bringing creative solutions to the table, and looking for opportunities for your company to contribute throughout the DISA enterprise.

During the afternoon session, attendees had the opportunity to learn from a DISA program manager what they need to do in order to put themselves front and center and promote the unique services and/or products their business can provide.

“I have found in my interactions with small businesses, there is a lot of time spent trying to establish rapport, or talking about the core values of the business,” said Services Development Directorate Deputy Terri Vosburg. “That is very important. However, what is critical is that my colleagues or I walk away from the conversation understanding what your core capabilities are and that you are a small business, because at the end of the day what you can provide to the government is ultimately what matters.”

Jones concluded the day with a challenge for the attendees.  

“You have met a lot of interesting women today and have had a lot of good conversations. Select one of the business cards from the stack you received today and make a date. Call that person and say, ‘I would like to meet with you to discuss other business opportunities, whether it is with DISA or another organization,’” she said.

“In order for this program to benefit you after today, you need to make the commitment to take the next steps in your journey and toward your own success,” Jones concluded.

To learn more about DISA’s OSBP, please visit

Posted March 30, 2017