Top Female Supply Chain Executives Lead the Way for Global Success

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


Today, supply chain talent does not make the top of the list of supply chain issues. At Flextronics, we believe there is a need to elevate this issue. With the speed of growth in reshoring of manufacturing and the continued growth of supply chains in emerging markets, we believe there is a need to invest and train in this area. Labor and talent strategies are becoming as important as global sourcing and manufacturing strategies. The war for talent in this space will continue to heat up. Flextronics is taking steps now to make sure we remain ahead of the curve. In Ireland, we have a Gaelic proverb: Chan ann leis a’ chiad bhuille thuiteas a’ chraobh,” which means “it is not with the first stroke that the tree falls.” Women made great strides at all levels in corporate leadership. We must persevere.

 

Jaymie C. Forrest, Principal, Neogistics LLC; Managing Director, Supply Chain & Logistics Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology

I still believe there has been very little research and assessment of the implications of traceability in the food chains as product moves between the organizations—at the integration points. Transportation providers have not been engaged to date with the one-back, one-forward regulations. And now they are going to be required to comply not only as a participant but as a critical link in maintaining the traceable chain. Even the big retailers have very little visibility to the actual paths and behaviors of the providers. For example, lettuce could have been delivered two days earlier if it went direct from A). the supplier location to B). the retailer DC. But instead it was moved to storage location C). cold storage acting as cross dock in order for C to be closer to the retailer when they requested the delivery allocation—not knowing that they actually just lost two days of freshness in the transportation network by not looking back into the chain and understanding the behavior of all the participants. There’s a good chance that temperature control was not checked from A to C and only practiced from C to B where it is checked at the retailer’s facility. This is a simple example and less critical than some of the actual food safety concerns. I think women need to be smart about positioning themselves. Look for opportunities to take the risks required to stand out. Look for internal sponsors that can help them get to the next level. There are a lot of opportunities for decision making in the organization. Maybe we just need to step out and ask to be positioned where we can add the most value based on our current skills and talents.

 

Mireia Brancos, Managing Director, Iasta Inc.

I agree with some folks that we have come a long way with the number of females in supply chain leadership positions but I believe we still have a long way to go. If we have to even ask the question, then we are not there yet. The world gets smaller every day—access to education and technology exposes us to a more culturally diverse workplace. This has compelled companies to become more mindful about embracing individual differences. Women have used this cultural shift to showcase their different yet equally effective leadership and management capabilities. But I think we are still in the early stages of this new diverse workplace model. The end goal? Genderless, raceless and ageless—measured only by talent, commitment, authenticity and knowledge. There are multiple ways in which women can better position themselves for positions in supply chain. By 1). Taking initiative, seizing opportunities, taking risks, driving change; 2). Becoming the experts—the go-to individuals; 3). Being confident about their ability to deliver—performance speaks for itself; 4). Having a voice around issues that are unique and important to them; and 5). Mentoring other women—creating a support network.

 

Lani Hawks, Senior Developer, Integration Point

Companies that focus on software development are evaluating the implementation of a SCRUM software development process. Integration Point has been using this process for a while—it allows us to manage a complex product development cycle using iterative and incremental deliverables. We quickly implement new features and functionality for end users to more efficiently manage their complete global trade management and compliance processes. Being able to quickly provide our customers with new and updated functionality allows them flexibility and adaptability to constantly changing regulations and Customs environments. [A current industry issue that needs extra awareness] is sharing data—companies have large amounts of data but struggle to effectively share it up and down the supply chain. This causes inefficiencies and leads to road blocks that slows down the movement of goods. Part of that sharing of information helps the supply chain react to rapid changes such as regulation changes or new requirements for electronic environments when communicating to Customs and other governing agencies. We all need to focus on increasing our knowledge and having a true dedication to making sure the end product—whether that is software, process improvements or getting the product to the end user—is well done, not just status quo.

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