CSCMP Takeaway: C-suite leaders take twists and turns to success

October 01, 20152 minute read

151001csuite3For a panel of leading women in supply chain, there can be no such thing as a short introduction. The career of each panelist in the CSCMP session “Women in the C-Suite: Leadership Lessons from the Top” (powered by AWESOME), has undergone many transitions that led to her current leadership role. What they share is a belief in continual learning as well as taking – and making! – opportunities along the way.

At the beginning of their discussion, moderator Nancy Nix, Executive Director of AWESOME, asked each to relate how her career in supply chain began.

Ann Drake, CEO of DSC Logistics and founder of AWESOME, said she entered the field because she was her “father’s only son,” and her father had founded Dry Storage Corporation, which later became DSC Logistics under Ann’s leadership. She had two other careers and earned an MBA before taking on the reins of her father’s company.

Laurel Junk, Chief Supply Chain and Procurement Officer, Enterprise Shared Services, Kaiser Permanente, recalled her very first career ambition was to be quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. But her love of math and science let her toward IT, marketing, and finance positions before her first entry into supply chain through material management.

The journey for Debbie Lentz, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Toys”R”Us, Inc., started in college, where she decided to major in business logistics – not really knowing what to expect, but looking forward to the “adventure.” She worked for Nabisco and then Kraft, and a milestone for her was taking on the leadership of Kraft’s supply chain throughout Europe.

Kathy Wengel, VP, Johnson & Johnson Supply Chain (JJSC), said her parents challenged her to “find what you love to do.” Her degree in engineering and operations research led her to join Johnson & Johnson as a project engineer. Her progression at J&J, including running manufacturing facilities and making a functional move into quality, also involved moves to Puerto Rico and Europe.

Panelists went on to talk about how they work with other C-level leaders in their companies, what qualities and capabilities are now most important for senior supply chain leaders, and what they see as the major barriers to women reaching their full potential. These insights will be reported in more detail in future AWESOME reports.