We’re close to three weeks post-Women in Supply Chain Forum, and the aftermath of excitement and buzz generated from the 1.5-day conference is still very real. As one attendee and panelist said on LinkedIn, “have you ever made close to 200 friends in one day?!”
Well, attendees did just that at this year’s Women in Supply Chain Forum, which took place Nov. 12-13 in Atlanta.
This year’s theme, “Better Together: How Collaboration Promotes Women in Supply Chain,” hit on all the right notes. Panelists spoke about diversity and inclusion, how to be a mentor and a mentee, what it’s like to have imposter syndrome (hint hint, everyone suffers from it) and how to better communicate with a remote team.
But what resonated the most was that this tight community of supply chain leaders came eager to learn, network, share their journey, learn about others and truly gain and nurture relationships.
Because really, when we’re all together, we are better.
The event kicked off with keynote speaker Katie Date, the newly named SVP, industry relations and strategic initiatives at Manifest, discussing the power of collaboration, what it means to be diverse both top-down and bottom-up in an organization and why becoming a part of a “girl tribe” is so important.
A special fireside chat saw Daisy Jiang, director of marketing for Nulogy, and Christine Barnhart, chief marketing and industry officer for Nulogy and one of this year’s, and previous year’s, winners of the Women in Supply Chain award and Pros to Know award, talk about how to champion diversity and inclusion in the supply chain.
An hour-long content session brought together Dr. Erez Agmoni, global head of innovation for Maersk; Nicole Glenn, founder of Candor Expedite and our 2023 overall Pros to Know winner; and Lisa Henshaw, VP of resources at DAT Freight & Analytics, on stage to detail what companies should and should not be doing in terms of implementing and executing diversity and inclusion initiatives, how to ensure diverse candidates are being supported, how to educate the non-minority group and to drill down on the real challenges involving DEI efforts.
Later in the program, Charlie Saffro, president and founder of CS Recruiting and one of this year’s Women in Supply Chain winners, walked attendees through how to handle toxic co-workers, how to be aggressive without being called “aggressive," how to differentiate between a toxic employee and a difficult one, how to obtain a positive company culture from a remote stance, how to track employee performance and how leaders can keep a pulse on their employees’ well-being from afar.
Then, Gretchen Moore, executive director of Women in Manufacturing’s (WiM) Education Foundation, discussed how women in technology, engineering, science and procurement can help the future of the supply chain, why it’s important to invest in women leaders in the industry, and what companies can do to ensure they attract and retain top talent, particularly women in STEM.
Shortly thereafter, Date returned to the stage to host the Forum’s first-ever hands-on mentorship workshop, where attendees worked with their tablemates to learn the difference between a mentorship and a sponsorship, what it means to be a mentor and a mentee and how to navigate the industry by “following the money” and “promoting your self-worth.” Hint: You can be a mentor to anyone, not just a newer employee. Sometimes employees mentor their bosses in unconventional ways.
The Forum closed with Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, founder of Let’s Talk Supply Chain and Blended Pledge project, both exclusive sponsors of our Women in Supply Chain award, joining me on stage to present – and talk with – our two overall Women in Supply Chain award winners, Tiffany Mensen, director, national accounts for CHEP (CLICK HERE to read Mensen’s interview), and Debbie Yu, co-founder and president of ISEE.AI (CLICK HERE to read Yu’s interview).
The discussion covered a lot of ground, touching on their journeys, their goals, what they’ve learned along the way, what they would tell their younger selves and how they view self-advocacy. Something to note, both of these winners were just amazing on paper, but IRL, on stage, they were so vulnerable, authentic and humble. Both winners were still in disbelief that they even won. They are truly amazing human beings and role models for females in the supply chain, and prove why this award and this Forum are so important to the supply chain industry as a whole.
Capping off the event was the awards ceremony and dinner, where all Women in Supply Chain winners in attendance gathered in front of our Winners’ Wall for a group photo.
While the Forum just closed out its second year and the award is about to embark on its fifth anniversary (submissions open June 2024), it was this moment, seeing all of the 50-plus winners in attendance gather for a photo that it actually hit me.
These women rock. Most had just met and yet couldn’t wait to stand next to their new BFF in the picture. These women showed up with open arms and minds to learn, network, collaborate and hopefully walk away with a couple extra contacts in their corner.
There was no podium. No PowerPoint presentation. No egos. Come as you are.
To the men who showed up… I see you. I welcome more of you. Promoting women in supply chain takes everyone, and when I say we’re better together, yes, that involves everyone.
Better together isn’t just a fancy hashtag. It’s a movement. It’s a community. It’s a journey. And it’s the future.
This year’s Women in Supply Chain Forum displayed that working together, collaborating together and learning from each other really is what’s best for the future of the supply chain.
Until next year, Nov. 12-13, 2024 at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta! Head to www.WomeninSupplyChainForum.com to learn more!
Because together, we’re better. #WISCForum2023 #womeninsupplychain #bettertogether