Laura Rokohl, Supply Chain Manager, Aspen Technology Inc.
Complexity is the primary characteristic that drives the need for a supply chain optimization soluton for our process industry customers. The concept of whether or not the glass ceiling has shattered is very industry dependent. While industries such as CPG and high tech tend to have more women in positions of leadership, the process industries are still male dominated. According to a report called Women in Canada’s Oil and Gas Sector, 25 percent of all professional positions in the petroleum sector are occupied by women—but most are in junior and intermediate positions, with a serious shortage of women in executive or senior management positions. On the positive side, I do think there has been a trend toward attracting more women to university programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with significant growth in the last 10 years in the number of women earning engineering degrees. For women already in the workforce, some companies are making strides in developing policies and organizational initiatives that address barriers to women’s participation, such as company subsidized childcare facilities and harassment prevention training. My experience working with customers in the process industry indicates that people (both male and female) evolve into supply chain roles from other areas that tend to be male dominated, such as science, technology, and engineering. College curriculums are just starting to focus on supply chain and as these programs grow and strengthen, so will the number of women that bring formal supply chain training to the table. Companies can foster the leadership potential of professional women in the workforce through role models, mentoring and networks to support professional development and create a forum for mutual advancement.
Mickey North Rizza, Vice President of Strategic Services, BravoSolution
The supply chain talent shortage is the greatest single threat to supply chains worldwide, as we face a perfect storm of colliding forces: under-educated talent, dated skill sets that cannot keep pace with changing technology, an aging workforce, and low levels of fresh, young workers entering the function. Without skilled talent, supply chains will underperform, costs will increase and the competition will find open opportunities to thrive while others barely survive. As part of strategic planning, businesses need to identify their current and future talent gaps; recognize employee potential with career counseling and employee development; re-visit compensation and benefits to attract the available talent; and define recruiting strategies that are tied to the top supply chain schools and to employee development.
Kelly Barner, Co-owner, Buyers Meeting Point
The goal of any initiative is to achieve the promised benefits—whether savings, efficiency or a competitive advantage. I believe supply chain professionals have been held back in the past because the traits that make us effective sometimes create friction with other functions in the organization. The more driven we are to implement positive change, the more hesitant others may be to work with us. We need to alter our approaches and communication styles to overcome others’ hesitancy so we can reach our goals. Changing one’s methods—particularly under pressure—requires constant self-awareness and purposeful actions. We must consider the larger organization’s positions on risk, change and decision-making and align with these factors when we prepare for interaction with executives and stakeholders.