Second annual Women in Supply Chain Symposium calls for courage amidst crisis
The ASU Supply Chain Executive Consortium (SCEC) hosted the second annual Women in Supply Chain Symposium virtually on Thursday, Sept. 17. This year’s theme focused on “Courage and Resiliency in the Midst of Crisis,” and welcomed more than 200 participants.
The ASU Supply Chain Executive Consortium (SCEC) hosted the second annual Women in Supply Chain Symposium virtually on Thursday, Sept. 17. This year’s theme focused on “Courage and Resiliency in the Midst of Crisis,” and welcomed more than 200 participants, including women leaders of companies such as E&J Gallo Winery, W.L Gore, Starbucks, Dell, Intel, and Cisco.
Lori Osterback, senior director and chief of staff at Cisco, was the keynote speaker of the event. She focused her discussion on leading through times of crisis, including the supply chain industry’s response to the novel coronavirus, Cisco’s corporate and social leadership during the pandemic, and a relentless focus on people — customers and employees — during unprecedented times.
“While running flat out to make sure we solved supply chain problems during the pandemic, plus getting our teams set up to work virtually with full security, we were also starting weekly check-ins with medical experts to answer questions about the crisis for our employees,” Osterback shared. “We also decided to take a stand following the George Floyd protests. We welcomed leaders from the Equal Justice Initiative and set some very strong expectations for what our company will promote for diversity, inclusiveness, and positive discourse.” Osterback emphasized that it is a very important time for big companies to take a stand and be part of solutions.
The symposium featured a panel of women leaders of companies such as E&J Gallo Winery, W.L Gore, Starbucks, Dell, and Intel, and was moderated by Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, co-founder and CEO of SHIPZ Inc. and the Let’s Talk Supply Chain Podcast, who was recently named one of the 2020 top 100 influential women in supply chain by Global Women Supply Chain Leaders. Jackie Sturm, corporate vice president and general manager of Global Supply Chain Operations at Intel, expanded on the conference theme by sharing a quote from former CEO, Andy Grove, how times of adversity are opportunities to improve your business and make it great. “Bad companies are destroyed in a crisis, good companies survive crisis, but great companies are improved by crisis,” she explained.
The symposium also featured time for networking, where students had the opportunity to visit breakout sessions with executives from the featured companies. W. P. Carey Career Management and Employer Engagement helped guide the sessions and faculty and staff moderated.
John Konopka, clinical assistant professor of supply chain management and co-chair of the conference stated, “This symposium is a fantastic opportunity for our students to hear from successful women in supply chain. That representation is important, and I’m grateful for all the presenters who shared their time with us to make this event a success.” Cindie Blackmer, lecturer in supply chain management and co-chair of conference also said, “The panelists and keynote speakers at this event provided excellent proof of what is possible for supply chain students’ careers with strong voices and leadership.”
While supply chain organizations have been focused on the effects of COVID-19, they’re still committed to the pursuit of gender equality. Gartner, Inc.'s 2020 Women in Supply Chain Survey reveals that among 177 supply chain professionals, 17% of chief supply chain officers are women — a 6% increase compared to 2019. The SCEC’s annual symposium is one strategy to continue driving that number upward. W. P. Carey student Gillian Lauter (BS Supply Chain Management ’21) shared, “In a male-dominated field like supply chain, I often worry that I will have to lessen myself. This event reminded me that I can come in curious, empathetic, and confident — it’s what makes me unique and what will make me valuable to have in the meeting room.”
Students interested in supply chain management can join various student organizations at W. P. Carey, including the Supply Chain Management Association, Women’s Business Leaders Association, and the Graduate Supply Chain Management Association.
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