When Lisa Dolan wakes up every morning she can’t wait to go to work. A life-long passion for technology and the supply chain industry drives her to get up and go every day. As the saying goes, “if you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life,” and for Dolan that rings true.
“I can’t believe I get paid to do this every single day,” she says. “I just love what I do.”
As the vice president of supply chain strategy at ALOM, Dolan’s drive is contagious throughout the entire company. Her ongoing passion for encouraging women to seek rewarding careers in the supply chain industry and dedication to developing a data-driven order customization and management process for the coveted “new owner welcome kits” for a luxury automaker has earned her the top spot as Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s Pro to Know of the Year.
Throughout the industry, supply chain leaders are expected to be a source of knowledge, problem solvers and adapters to change, all while maintaining a level of passion for what they do. For the last 19 years, SDCE has spotlighted these individuals, placing them front and center as Pros to Know.
“It’s an incredible honor to be selected as Pro of the Year, especially when you look at the list of all the supply chain professionals,” Dolan says. “I’ve been in the industry for over 28 years and every project I deliver is built with a team—I think of this more as my team getting this than just me. I’m just humbled and honored to be selected.”
Each year SDCE’s editorial staff vets hundreds of applications for the annual award to find the best leaders in the supply chain industry. These selected winners then become our Pros to Know, an aspirational list that introduces practitioners, providers and teams from every corner of the industry. The job becomes harder each year as more individuals continue to make a name for themselves. With a challenge to name the Pro of the Year, our staff takes note of individuals that stand out with their leadership skills, business acumen, exceptional attitude and passion for the industry, helping boost them to the top of our list.
Dolan earned our highest recognition because she is putting technology in the forefront and letting it drive innovative projects, such as a completely new automated order management process for high-demand “welcome kits” from a luxury automotive brand that integrates vehicle sales data from across North America with customized dealer messaging.
The automaker wanted to “surprise and delight” the customers with the welcome kits, allowing Dolan and her team to run with ideas. In order to have the kits be personalized and memorable, she collaborated closely with the company to create an innovative experience for three stakeholders: the automaker, dealer and the end user who is buying the vehicle.
“The challenge wasn’t in physically producing the kits—we can do that in our sleep,” Dolan explains. “The challenge was really managing the complexity of data from multiple data streams and sources to get the properly customized kit to the consumer.”
Dolan explains that the kits rely on business intelligence and machine learning in order to succeed. ALOM is able to view the data that comes from each sale, allowing it to adjust certain aspects to give dealers better flexibility.
With all the software and scripting that happens on the back end to produce an individually customized welcome kit, Dolan believes that technology is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
“I think technology really drives so much in the supply chain today. That [technology] has been such an instrumental part of my success,” Dolan says. “Everyone is so focused on the physical aspect of the supply chain, but with more data coming at us from different directions, it is really important to harness it to help make better informed supply chain decisions.”
Dolan has a long background in technology, coming from an IBM town in Vermont. Growing up, she started programming from a young age—never having it occur to her that women couldn’t be successful in the technology field—it was just something that she loved to do and made a career out of it. She has made it her mission to bring up the next generation of supply chain professionals, regardless of their gender, race or age.
Throughout her time in the industry, Dolan has been an advocate when it comes to female equality in the work place. Representing a woman-owned company, she refers to ALOM’s diversity programs as “walking the walk and talking the talk.” She looks at having diversity within the company as a plus as it allows ALOM to look at challenges through a different frame of reference.
“We are constantly out and forward facing in the community, encouraging women, especially young professionals to join the industry,” Dolan explains. “Sure, you may not see a lot of women working in a distribution center, but that’s changing.”
For Dolan, it’s all about education. It is vital that young women see their representation in impactful technology and supply chain roles. Along with Dolan, ALOM is committed to closing the gap in the supply chain and manufacturing sector by welcoming students to tour ALOM facilities and learn about technology-driven career opportunities the industry offers.
Fortunately, though, times are changing, and more women are entering the board room and the factory floor, something that Dolan sees as an advantage.
“Today’s younger generation doesn’t see gender as big of an issue as it was 20 years ago. What I stress now is to pursue every opportunity available to you,” Dolan says. “You need to really love what you do and have a passion for what you do. Anytime someone has a passion for what they do and absolutely loves the job, they will do well.”
To see the complete list of Pros to Know, please click here.