Women in supply chain management encouraged to "bring their voice to the table".
Women in supply chain management encouraged to "bring their voice to the table".

Why women in supply chain 'need to be risk takers'

18 September 2020

Female supply chain managers need to be “risk takers” and make a voice for themselves, according to industry professionals.

Speaking at the ASU Women in Supply Chains Annual event: Courage & Resiliency in the Midst of Crisis, a panel of leading female professionals in supply chain management advised on how to overcome challenges in the profession.

Jacklyn Sturm, corporate VP and general manager of global supply chain operations at Intel, said: “If you want to get a hit, you have to step up to the plate.

“I want women to leave their negative self talk behind and just step on up because they have so much to offer. If you're not sharing that with your company, they're not getting their money's worth out of you and you're not getting the career growth that you should,” she added. 

Ana Lucia Alonzo, VP of global supply chains at Starbucks, said: “Find your voice. It might feel like a long road ahead, but there's a unique opportunity of bringing your voice to the table. That's a responsibility you have to embrace.” 

She recommended: “We need to take more risks in our career. Make certain that you push yourself and take a less conservative approach because we can really make a difference by raising our hand or putting our name in the hat for a new opportunity.”

One of the challenges women are facing in the supply chain function is getting access to roles and progressing up the career ladder, due to lack of work experience opportunities and mentoring programmes.

Sturm talked about the need for active sponsorship and coaching programmes. “It's never going to be something that works if it's just on the individual, it has to be something that you systematically invest in and prioritise.”

Mariely Bandas-Franzetti, digital services VP at Dell, said: “We need to look at the entire [talent] pipeline and the role of leaders in university relationship engagement. We're not going to move the needle if we don't have the entire pipeline healthy.”

Dell has put over 300 females through private coaching, said Franzetti. She agreed that more coaching programmes are necessary for the career development of females in supply chains “in terms of confidence, communication and developing your brand”.

Anne Kraus, president of global quality and food safety at E&J Gallo Winery, also advised that women entering the profession build a trusted network to support them. “There's nothing better than a trusted network, so start building and investing in it. It helps you lean into problems and solve problems when you need a collaborative solution.”

Organisations need to adapt and align to the new working norms caused by the pandemic, and increase the adoption of flexible structures. 

Alonzo said: “Remote work is putting incremental pressure in the time of women working from home, probably because, on average, we take on more of the home or caregiving activities. 

“In order to support the next generations and the new jobs that are emerging, it is important that we create flexibility through the workplace.”

While past “rigid schedules” needed to be adhered to, flexibility is now essential. Organisations need to start thinking about how they enable different employees to balance and complement work scheduled, and get the support needed to “drive and thrive in these new environments”, she added.

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