May 21, 2013
Mentorship helps member firm make connections, build business
Dennis Robb accepts Mentor of the Year Award, with Ellen van der Horst and Samir Kulkarni.
According to Solica Construction CEO Ami Kulkarni, her business changed the moment she met Dennis Robb, senior vice president of supply chain for UC Health - so much so that she was inspired to nominate Robb for the Chamber's Blue Ash Business Award for Mentor of the Year. Robb accepted the award at a March 21 luncheon.
The two were introduced in early 2010, just two years after Ami and husband Samir Kulkarni left P&G to hang out the proverbial shingle. That's right: Solica Construction opened its doors in 2008, a fact that isn't lost on their mentor.
"I like to say they climbed Mt. Everest - while it was raining," said Robb.
The Kulkarnis met Robb at the UCHealth Diversity Team's regular Thursday morning supplier diversity meeting, an open forum for anyone in the community looking for training, networking and honest peer review.
"Dennis encourages diverse entrepreneurs to present their product to his team…so, at the suggestion of Crystal German of the Minority Business Accelerator, we decided to detail to the group our strengths, experience, and what inspired us to open our doors during an economic downturn," said Kulkarni.
It was a smart move on the Kulkarnis' part.
Robb and the Kulkarnis continued meeting every few months. Kulkarni says Robb has helped her team form strategic alliances with other business leaders, position the business for growth through strategic planning, offered public support, and provided direct business opportunities when possible.
"In the construction industry, you have to have a successful track record to get business, but in order to do that, you have to land that first project," said Robb. "Here are two people that not only built a successful track record, but they did in very challenging economic times."
As a health system that spends $250,000,000 annually on goods and services, Robb says UC Health recognizes its significant opportunity to spread economic opportunity more evenly across the region. But, to him, mentoring is also personal.
"My particular orientation is that if you've been successful, you have an obligation to pay it forward. And mentoring is a natural giveback," said Robb.
Blue Ash Business Award Winners were announced at a luncheon featuring keynote speaker Dr. Yousuf Ahmad, Division Senior Vice President and Chief Network Transformation Officer at Mercy Health.