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Re-envisioning the Supply Chain: Women at the Helm

Re-envisioning the Supply Chain: Women at the Helm

Parisa Sadrzadeh, SVP for SMB Product and Tech at Flexport, humorously but aptly claims that this is the “most appealing job on the planet.” For aspiring women leaders intrigued by the profiles of successful CEOs, Sadrzadeh advises a thorough examination of their career trajectories, which often include operational experience. 

She assures that a career in the supply chain industry will be immensely rewarding in the long run.

The latest ‘Logistics Rewired’ webinar by Flexport was an enlightening panel discussion on the pivotal role women play in spearheading advancements in the supply chain industry. The panel consisted of illustrious personalities including Sabrina Carr, Director of Global Transportation at The Clorox Company, Carol Kijac, Founder of Peripheral Vision LLC, and Parisa Sadrzadeh, SVP of SMB Product and Tech at Flexport, and was ably moderated by Jessica Tissera, Flexport’s Director of Sales.

These veteran panelists shared insights gathered from years of diverse roles and functions such as transportation and freight management in Fortune 500 companies, technological and product development from production to delivery, sales and commercial development, among others. Here, we share some of the noteworthy points from the conversation. For a detailed listening experience, do check out the full webinar recording.

Significant Evolution in Supply Chain Landscape: Is It Enough?

Sabrina Carr notes an encouraging trend – the increasing presence of women in leadership roles and key decision-making positions. However, according to Carol Kijac, while progress is apparent, it is still not enough. Companies need to focus more on providing advancement opportunities and skill development to women, especially when transitioning from mid-management to leadership roles.

Carol highlighted the need for more attention on developing and progressing women in managerial roles, adding that the efforts should focus on both advancement and skill development.

The Perennial Challenges of the Supply Chain Industry

Carol criticized the traditional approach to the supply chain as being too one-dimensional and advocated for a multi-dimensional perspective. This perspective would consider the needs of various stakeholders and partners and thus promote diversity. This diversity would, in turn, bring fresh perspectives to the table and help to identify overlooked challenges.

Parisa emphasized that transforming the status quo cannot be the responsibility of women alone. This change should be a collective effort starting at the top and trickling down, promoting inclusivity at all levels. The environments women work in every day must become more accepting.

Impostor Syndrome was a significant concern Parisa brought to light. Overcoming this daunting hurdle requires continuous reassurance of one’s worthiness. She opined that women often wait to achieve perfection before speaking up, a barrier that must be dismantled.

Sabrina accentuated the importance of representation to attract more women to the supply chain industry. Witnessing women in leadership positions often encourages others to follow suit.

The panel collectively highlighted one of the long-standing challenges women face – being typecast based on their past roles. They encouraged their teams and leaders to look beyond these labels and consider the diversity of functions that make up the supply chain industry.

Strategies to Flourish in the Supply Chain

Understanding customer needs and their financial impact is crucial to informed decision-making. Furthermore, being able to communicate your ideas effectively and understand the factors driving performance are critical aspects of success in the industry.

Guidance for Leadership: Fostering Gender Diversity

All panelists agreed on the role leadership, particularly men in power, can play in promoting gender diversity. Advocating for colleagues, creating a conducive environment for active participation, and lending passive support are crucial steps in this direction.

Final Thoughts: Reasons for Women to Embrace Supply Chain

Carol aptly summarized the importance of supply chain experience by highlighting the invaluable skills it imparts to individuals – from collaboration and engagement to a profound understanding of various stakeholder dynamics. She advocates that a stint in the supply chain sector essentially lays a solid foundation for one to run a company or even start a business.

Sabrina stressed the universal relevance of numbers in making connections and establishing common ground in diverse groups. She emphasized the importance of leveraging the language of numbers in the dynamic spaces of supply chain and logistics.

Parisa, offering a motivational message to those new to the industry or job, urged them to trust themselves and not shy away from expressing their ideas, however daunting it may initially seem. She emphasized that with practice and time, one gets better at articulating ideas. She affirmed that landing a job is indicative of an individual’s capability and suitability for the role and that the rest gradually falls into place with experience and self-belief.

In essence, the industry offers a rich landscape of opportunity and reward for women ready to take on the challenge. With the dynamic field of supply chain management undergoing continuous change, the insights and leadership that women can bring to the table are becoming more valuable and influential than ever. And while much progress has been made, the conversation from the webinar makes it clear there is still plenty of room for further growth and representation in the industry.

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