I believe women have earned their leadership stripes in every management role today, especially in supply chain—and that the glass ceiling has truly shattered. Women are very good students and, fortunately or unfortunately, had years to study and observe what makes the best managers excellent. In a 2012 Harvard Business Review article by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, based on their research study of 7,280 leaders in 2011, two of the traits—“taking initiative and driving for results”—where women outscored men to the highest degree have long been thought of particularly as male strengths. The reasons for the now shattered ceiling are several: 1). Bright women have utilized their internal strength and their strong powers of observation to unleash their greatness from within. And top management has begun promoting those who can get the job done, minus past generations’ gender biases; 2). Today’s women seek and have found stronger female role models in business and are not afraid to tap male and female mentorship for guidance; 3). Female managers learned via participation to build better, more collaborative teams, utilizing all the talent available; and 4). Female managers are able to combine intuitive and logical thinking seamlessly, determining accurately the resources needed to accomplish a given outcome and focusing on results, not effort. Despite years of evidence to the contrary, many women still have to work twice as hard as men to gain credibility and earn economic decision-making positions in supply chain and anywhere else in business. The reward of these efforts is that women are often remembered twice as long for their successes. In the old days, that memory was partially due to low expectations. Today, that memory is due more than anything else to spectacular results.
Rose Kelly-Falls, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Risk Management, Rapid Ratings International Inc.
Risk management is a relatively new phenomenon—companies are just now realizing its importance to the bottom line. Supply chain executives must acknowledge this need and implement risk management in the broader context of supply chain processes and workflows. Balancing awareness of suppliers’ financial risk alongside compliance, audit and other risk factors can be overwhelming—and many companies struggle with managing it. We are working to not just encourage awareness of risk management but also provide practical solutions for addressing it. We want to bring calm to a situation that many professionals find paralyzing by simplifying best practices and breaking down the prospect of building a risk management initiative into digestible bite-sized pieces. Noticing this need early on has driven my professional career in supply chain toward a focus in risk management.
Bindiya Vakil, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Resilinc
I am passionate about supply chain resiliency. In the last few years, the conversation focused purely on catastrophic events and not on addressing supply chain resiliency from a holistic perspective. Our approach at Resilinc has been to shift the focus to enpower decisions that people at every level in the supply chain make on a daily basis. I have always had role models who fueled my imagination about the possibilities. Education builds a strong foundation for self-confidence; however, it is also vital that we’re self-aware. I come from a family of powerful women and yet, assertiveness did not come naturally to me. A few years ago, I read the book “Women Don’t Ask” by Linda Babcock. Becoming self-aware changed many small aspects of my personal and professional relationships. Our lives are a culmination of various things we “ask” from the people around us including respect, courtesy and trust. What sets the stage for success are the people in our personal and professional lives who inspire us, open up doors for us and put their faith in us and push us to try harder. However, it is incumbent upon us to also grab every opportunity to put ourselves in a better place. I believe every woman should be in sales early in their career—it enables us to read people, instills confidence and quickly makes us resilient and tough. Besides, every aspect of our life involves sales and negotiations. Educational institutions do a great job teaching women in their academic fields. However, we don’t get practical training to thrive in a world where the majority perceives things in a very different way. The ability to inspire confidence in others is critical for women to rise to economic decision-making positions.
Debbie Wilcox, CPSM, Vice President, Marketing & Professional Services, SafeSourcing Inc.
As a technology-based company, we have been focused on improving our internal systems and introducing new service modules that address existing customer needs. Now that we shored up our internal capabilities, we are focusing on outreach and letting companies know what we do and how we are different through social media and other technologies to expand our business. Companies have been focused on cost containment and reduction but a new focus needs to be placed on removing internal biases. With the rising and fluctuating cost of freight, commodity prices, healthcare costs, new technologies and increasing labor costs, companies and management need to take another look at their supply chains and question assumptions. Being open to new ideas and alternative suppliers can help root out inefficiencies and cut costs.