Director of Diversity Strategy, WWT

When Shay Gillespie made the shift to supplier diversity, the director of diversity strategy for World Wide Technology, she did it in the way she does everything else. “I’m an all or nothing person,” she said.

Gillespie had been a proposal specialist, but her passion for diversity led her to pursue a comprehensive education in the field in her off-hours. She’s more than since proved her mettle by increasing the $10.5B global technology integrator’s overall diverse business procurement spend by more than 400%.

Her passion for her work is fueled by the impact her suppliers make in their communities. “Talent is equally distributed,” she said, “but access isn’t.” She remembers a supplier at a business awards luncheon bringing his table, about 8 young Black men from underserved communities, up onstage to share the spotlight. They had all gotten the opportunity to become apprentices, then electrical engineers, because of just one of WWT’s suppliers.

Gillespie was touched to imagine, not just the economic impact, but the young lives each of those men might touch. They are role models to their cousins and siblings because Tommy L. Davis, Jr. of TD4 Electrical Engineering took the time to seek out candidates who just needed an opportunity.

Gillespie sits on a number of boards, including that of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis. Her latest project, Color Coded Kids, sprang from inspiration to website within 48 hours. Since 2016, when she started the program in her basement, Gillespie has recruited developers to teach in four cities, including her hometown of St. Louis. As CEO of Color Coded Kids, in partnership with Microsoft, she’s brought the skill of coding to 300 school-aged kids, mostly kids of color, in less than two years.

Gillespie is not shy about giving credit where it’s due. Her mentor, Juanita Logan, guided her into turning her passion for diversity into a profession. “Her purpose is to bring as many people up as possible,” said Gillespie of Logan, who is now director of corporate development at WWT. That dedication has proven a powerful example.