(Progress, Insight & Performance Education)



The PIPE Program (Progress, Insight & Performance Education), is a collaboration between Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council and the University of Phoenix.  Aramark is a 2020-2021 Presenting Sponsor of this eight-week, advanced business management program that saves time and improves company performance.

Participant Eligibility

Participants must be employed by a company certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) through National Minority Supplier Development Council, City of Chicago, Cook County, or certified through the State of Illinois Business Enterprise Program (BEP.) The PIPE Program is recommended for officers or key employees who would benefit from sharpening their business skills. The courses are designed for individuals who already have basic business knowledge and experience.

Company Eligibility

Companies may only send individuals meeting all participant eligibility requirements.

  • Business owner must have at least three (3) years of experience developing/operating their company
  • Company must have annual revenue between $300,000 and $50,000,000 (USD)
  • Company must employ at least three (3) full or part-time employees

Overview and Benefits

This eight-week, non-credit program is designed to provide participants with the skills and knowledge needed to optimize their business. The output of each process (class) flows into the others.

  • Week 1, Strategic Planning and Thinking: Optimization starts with effective planning. Whether you are creating your first strategic plan or reviewing the direction of an organization, this course will help you clarify and set goals. Strategic/critical thinking, including the use of business intelligence data to drive decision-making, will also be analyzed.
  • Week 2, Managing Operational Goals: Organizational goals can often get lost in layers of management without being communicated to individual contributors. In the absence of goals, employees can feel unmotivated or even set their own goals for achievement, resulting in poor and conflicting team performance. In this course, you will develop skills needed to establish tactical goals for your team based on organizational directives and general goals from management, prompting you to create and manage action plans to achieve such goals.
  • Week 3, Business Ethics: Pausing in the pursuit of setting strategy, participants review the way moral beliefs play into business assessments. Making the right decisions for the right reasons is critical to smart business growth. This course will also briefly discuss how business ethics influence the strategy of acquisitions.
  • Week 4, Project Management I: The review of project management concepts and its related skills help attendees envision overseeing certain strategic goals as a formal project that can be monitored and measured. Learn about the project management life cycle, success criteria, common reasons for project failure, setting up strong teams, and risk factors to consider.
  • Week 5, Project Management II: Based on feedback from cohort one, we’ve added this second course to build on the fundamentals. Areas of discussion to include: the scheduling process, controlling budget deviations, monitoring for project progress, reporting tools, and elements of project close-out.
  • Week 6, Introduction to Supply Chain Management: This course provides an overview of supply chain theory and explores its importance to your strategy. Also, it identifies how your supply chain plays into planning and monitoring goals.
  • Week 7, Elements of Supply Chain: Take a deeper dive into the manufacturing and service operations of the supply chain, along with a review of logistics, which gives a more nuanced understanding of effective decisions.
  • Week 8, Process Improvement: After putting together the concepts taught throughout the PIPE Program, this final class examines process improvement. Utilizing tools and techniques, participants will be empowered to drive toward business optimization!


Class sessions will be virtually held once a week due to COVID-19. The Program cost is $2,500 and is available to one participant per company. Full scholarship details are being finalized. Please complete and return THE APPLICATION to be considered. The number of scholarships are set and registration closes when capacity is reached.

The PIPE Program helps drive the supplier diversity goals of ChicagoMSDC corporate members, as witnessed by Aramark, our 2020 presenting sponsor. In the blog extracted below, Aramark shares the history of their purchasing power and ChicagoMSDC engagement with the PIPE Program through Neda Sharp, Director of Program Development. The blog is sprinkled with testimonials from a few of the 21 scholarship recipients who were graduates of the PIPE Program-Cohort 3 in December 2020. We are grateful to Aramark for the partnership, promotion, and look forward to their sponsorship continuance in 2021.

Contact Information

Neda Sharp, Director of Program Development
Phone: 312-755-2554
Email Neda Sharp