Kathleen Castore: Welcome and thank you Wayne for joining me. First, can you tell us a bit about USAA?

Wayne Shanks: At USAA, we conduct business in a way that reflects our core values of service, loyalty, honesty and integrity. We serve our members, a diverse group of military, veterans and their families; and our supply chain should be as diverse as the members we serve. Our goal is to use suppliers who embody diversity and inclusion and who are committed to economic equity for all. This includes use of diverse-owned businesses, both directly and as subcontractors, in all areas of our procurement and contracting activities. Additionally, we expect all our 3rd parties to embrace diversity and inclusion in their employment practices, supply chain and social outreach as well.

KC: Tell us your story – how/why did you begin your journey in the military and how did it lead you to USAA and Supplier Diversity?

WS: My family has a long history of military service, and after nearly three decades in the Army, I found myself at a transition. USAA was a strong draw for me because their values aligned with my own and I was fortunate to be offered this position where I can still give back to the military community.

KC: What led you to become a Disability: IN Corporate Member?

WS: We began our program as a veteran and military spouse employment outreach program, but quickly realized entrepreneurship was a viable pathway to increase employment. As we expanded our program, strategic partners such as Disability: IN, proved to be invaluable in increasing our access to diverse suppliers. Disability: IN naturally aligns with our corporate values and is a tremendous resource for veterans and all people with disabilities.

KC: There are many mentoring programs out there, how come you joined the Disability: IN Mentoring Program specifically?

WS: I serve as the co-chair of Disability: IN’s National Certification Committee and see many wonderful companies through that process. I always try to give back, and as a disabled-veteran myself, I found it very rewarding trying to assist other disabled-veterans further their business goals.

KC: Can you give your advice on what mentees should do to get the most out of a formal mentoring program?

WS: As mentees, they need to drive the relationship. What skills, expertise or information would be most beneficial to them as they grow their business? Work with the mentor to try to find connections that can help them with those needs. It should be more than an introduction to a corporation for possible contracts.

KC: As a major corporation, what has USAA gotten out of participating in mentoring?

WS: We hope to start a supplier development program in the near future and seeing the needs of growing businesses through our interactions will help us craft a better program.

KC: Is there anything else you would like to share?

WS: At USAA, we are always looking for the best value for our members, so potential suppliers should come to us with how they can solve a problem, provide a better solution, or create a better experience for our members. However, in the financial services industry our regulatory environment is quite complex, so they should also come prepared to demonstrate their ability to comply with all the requirements.

KC: We supplied the company website for those veterans and family members to considering signing up for all the great services you offer. However, do you have a website for potential suppliers to sign up with USAA, as well?

WS: Sure, our supplier information webpage has a link to register general company data, but also other information regarding doing business with USAA.

KC: Thank you again Wayne and USAA for all you do for our military, veterans and DOBEs.