Top Female Supply Chain Executives Lead the Way for Global Success

Female leaders stand out in traditionally male-dominated market segments of supply chain


Regulation and taxation are increasing at an exponential rate in business, especially in the health industry. These changes significantly impact the bottom line by eroding the margins on manufactured products and increasing non-value-add administrative costs. Early warnings of these regulations and taxes allows for preparation including educating the organization; and implementing systems for tracking requirements or items needing taxing. Taking these steps will be the only way to successfully mitigating increased cost to the business. Building processes and creating cross-functional teams for evaluating regulations and taxation will be imperative in the coming years for companies to successfully systematize responses and action plans that are necessary to comply with these industry changes. The introduction of supply chain management programs at universities significantly increased the education of all managers. The past decade has seen a shift from promoting employees from the manufacturing floor into management positions, to hiring college or master level students versed in supply chain management programs. This opens the door for more women in management positions who might not have had the opportunity without this cultural change. Women being successful in management roles that necessitate economic decision-making will continue to position other women in the supply chain. Women leading major manufacturing and Fortune 500 corporations such as PepsiCo, Sara Lee, KraftFoods, DuPont, IBM and Yahoo will also support better positioning of women throughout the supply chain industry. The real-time example of these women making economic decisions that are propelling their organizations to success is hard for any organization to ignore.

 

Belinda Hess, Director, Marketing Food & Consumer, CSX Transportation (CSXT)

Our efforts are focused on driving value for our customers, which in turn creates value for CSX. To that end, we are identifying and implementing new ways in which to work collaboratively with our customers and transportation partners to make the supply chain as efficient as possible. This is critical in the food and consumer market that our team handles for CSX Transportation. We’re charged with creating new transportation and distribution solutions that bridge multi-modal options to better meet customer demands. As with other rail-served markets, we are looking for more opportunities to move food and consumer products in unit trains. That is, the same commodities handled in the same cars with no intermediate handling. The state of transportation infrastructure continues to be a concern with population growth and lengthening global supply chains. Logistics depends upon highways, ports and rails, and all of those components need to work seamlessly. For railroads, the ability to continue investing in their privately funded networks would be threatened if Congress imposed new regulations on railroads.

 

Mary Kleespies, Director of Supply Chain Consulting, DiCentral

There are things that today’s women must incorporate into their daily routine to better position themselves in the supply chain. The first is to keep abreast of what is new in their industry because there are changes in how consumers are making their buying decisions every day. Additionally, the impact of social media and omni-channel retailing are also significant. These are areas that women need to be well-versed in, in order to ensure that this phenomenon is maximized across their organizations. Lastly, as executives and leaders, women need to be open to new ways of improving their supply chains, whether this means an investment in technology or adopting new marketing aimed at their consumers. The bottom line is that women need to be current and flexible so they can be the most knowledgeable person in their area of expertise.

 

Ann Drake, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DSC Logistics

Women's interest in stepping outside conventional roles and professions led to them becoming better educated, more skilled and more motivated to be involved in the supply chain. They see our profession as a challenging, relevant and dynamic field with the power to impact business success and the global economy. Yet, statistics and our own observations tell us that women are still under-utilized in our field. We have basically not yet tapped into the significant contribution women can make to our field with their heightened skills in analysis, communication, collaboration and problem solving. For many years, I've recognized a need for an industry-wide initiative to develop women as strong supply chain leaders. So in 2013, I'm organizing an initiative we're calling AWESOME—Advancing Women's Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education. We're aiming to hold an AWESOME Symposium in early May with a much larger group of participants, where we will address the major issues. We'll be exchanging ideas about solutions to those concerns, as well as identifying the most effective approaches to leadership development. This initiative is right for our time because it's not about “giving” women opportunities—but about harnessing their abilities, knowledge and experience to achieve new levels of excellence and contribution to our field.

 

Caroline Dowling, President, Integrated Network Solutions, Flextronics

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