An Open Letter to all Women

Women in Supply Chain

Today, March 8, is not only International Women’s Day, but a day of reflection. Think back 5, 10, 15 years ago; are you the same person you were back then? My guess is probably not based on my personal experience. 15 years ago, I was a bright-eyed high schooler with my nose buried in fashion magazines who was told no one would ever take me seriously based on the way I looked and dressed. 10 years ago, I was enrolled at my dream university discovering and developing my passion for marketing. 5 years ago, I had already experienced a corporate restructuring in a global fortune 500 company, made a lateral career move as a result, and began furthering my passion for marketing by starting an M.B.A. program in marketing and international business. Today, I am responsible for all of the North America marketing programs for an international best of breed supply chain planning solution company. So, what does this all mean, and how does it relate to supply chain?

It means that the supply chain industry is evolving and adapting to changing trends and technology, and so are women. If you were to ask me 5, 10, 15 years ago where I’d be today, I would not have said the supply chain industry mainly because my perception was skewed. The supply chain industry is more than industrial warehouses and a “man’s job,” I just wasn’t aware of all the opportunities available to me in the industry. But that’s the great thing about following your passion, it opens doors and leads you to new opportunities; opportunities that might seem out of reach or different from what you know but are worth the risk. So let’s take a deeper dive into women in supply chain.

Upon further research, I noticed a few recurring themes:

  • More women are slowly starting to enter the supply chain industry
  • Women are still underrepresented in supply chain leadership roles*
  • Women are more suited for supply chain management roles because our brains are designed for multitasking, we are better collaborators, and we are team focused as well as other qualities we possess that are necessary for us to be successful in these roles**
  • More companies are making an effort to attract and promote women in supply chain management and leadership roles***

So what does this all mean for women in supply chain? It means more doors are opening for us, we have to move out of our comfort zone and not be afraid to take more risks. I’ll be the first one to admit upon entering the supply chain industry a year ago, I was nervous; I had very little knowledge of supply chain other than the class or two I took in business school, and I didn’t know if the industry would be a good fit for me. However, I took a leap of faith that my knowledge of marketing would carry me through and that the rest would all fall into place. A year later, I’m happy to report that leap of faith was the right decision.

Today, as I sit here reflecting on the past year, I realized I’ve learned so much about myself and the supply chain industry. I realized I was my own constraint in further developing my own knowledge, skill-set and career. I realized there are a lot of women in the supply chain industry who have paved the way for me and my peers via stepping into those leadership roles, launching podcasts, researching and developing thought leadership content, etc.; for example, our very own Terry Onica, Director of Vertical Market Strategy, and Oyku Asikoglu, Business Consultant, just to name a few. Additionally I realized the more supply chain conferences and events I attended, I was representing and increasing the female presence. Finally, I realized my leap of faith landed me at one of those companies who encourages women in supply chain, and strives to help me succeed in the industry by providing me with the support and tools I need to not only do my job, but help me help them succeed.

As a woman in supply chain, I’m excited to learn and grow with the supply chain industry because of all the dynamic changes I’m seeing and experiencing; supply chain is no longer loud factories with trucks and wooden pallets, but a solution that is helping company’s meet and exceed their strategies with the help of women. Therefore, I encourage all of you to follow your passions and see where it takes you. Don’t shy away from a promotion, company or industry because it’s uncharted territory; embrace it and let it guide you like I have with supply chain. In the words of Amelia Earhart, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

Happy International Women’s Day!

Sincerely,

Your fellow woman in supply chain

* Callinan, Lisa, et al. 2018 Women in Supply Chain Survey. Gartner, Inc., 2018, pp. 1–17, 2018 Women in Supply Chain Survey.

** O’Marah, Kevin. “Women in Supply Chain: The Mary Barra Example.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 June 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/kevinomarah/2018/06/21/women-in-supply-chain-the-mary-barra-example/#24703e9154fd.

*** McCrea, Bridget. “Women in the Supply Chain: How Far Have We Come? – Supply Chain 24/7.” SupplyChain247, Peerless Media, LLC., a Division of EH Publishing, Inc., 8 Oct. 2018, www.supplychain247.com/article/women_in_logistics_how_far_have_we_come/AWESOME.


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