Ann Drake’s Opening Remarks at the May 15, 2014 AWESOME Symposium

AD-podiumI’m very excited to welcome you all to the Second Annual AWESOME Symposium.  Two years ago I never would have believed this gathering of leading supply chain women was a possibility.  I didn’t even know there were enough of us in those roles to fill a booth in a coffee shop — much less a conference center.  Last year we said this was the largest gathering of senior level women in the supply chain.  And I’m happy to tell you this year we’re taking it to the next level.

Before we begin our first panel, I’d like to ask our 2014 AWESOME Advisors to stand.  This group of 15 supply chain leaders was formed earlier this year, and they have provided inspiration and input into the focus and plans for AWESOME, including this symposium. You’ll see by reading their bios that they come from wonderfully diverse backgrounds and companies and roles, and each brings a wealth of experience to the exciting challenge of building AWESOME momentum.

Some of you are back, some of you are new.  You’ve come from near and far — New York and Texas, California and Florida and many points in between. You represent a broad range of supply chain leadership roles.  Each of you and, most importantly, all of us together are ready to transform the future of supply chain leadership.

So here we are…one year down the road.  And what a year this has been!

Our AWESOME network of senior level women supply chain leaders has doubled in size since last year at this time.

Last year we joined forces with CSCMP to provide some terrific opportunities for networking and learning at the Global Conference in Denver.

We formed the group of 2014 Advisors that you just met.

Twice in the past year we’ve issued a “Reality Check,” which is a listening- based record of collective wisdom and up-to-date thinking of women supply chain leaders.

Within the past month, we launched our first official AWESOME website,  I hope you’ll visit it soon and often.

That’s a tremendous amount to accomplish in one year but there’s even more to celebrate and more to build on.  And it has to do with connections.  First, let me say three words and you’ll understand how exciting these connections are: Jamaica, Mongolia, and Kuwait.  While AWESOME was gaining momentum and building awareness in this country, women supply chain leaders in Jamaica, Mongolia and Kuwait have reached out to us.  We haven’t even worked on our global expansion yet and these women sense change is in the air and they want to be part of it.  They are now part of our network.

Second, over the past year, AWESOME has received tremendous support and encouragement from men in our field, including this year’s panel of enlightened men and last year’s panel who contacted me to wish us well with this year’s symposium.  You’ll be hearing from the enlightened men later this morning.

AWESOME was never about women instead of men – or women over men.  It’s about changing the leadership landscape so outstanding women and men have the same opportunities and can work together to harness the full power of the supply chain.

The third major development I’d like to mention is that over the past year in my travels and at various summits and conferences, I’ve seen a tremendous swell of interest in all things related to transportation and infrastructure.  This area, our area, has become one of the most pressing needs of our country.  If we are to become competitive as a nation and if we are to maintain our leadership role and get stronger in the future, we have important work to do in transportation infrastructure.  And that means key leadership roles for the men and women who excel in our field.

There’s never been a better time to be a supply chain leader, and there’s never been a better time to be an AWESOME woman.  Women are problem solvers.  Women are orchestrators.  Women change the way things work.  Women know the value of compromise.  Women are interested in collaborating.  Women are interested in helping each other.  Women are transforming our industry.

Today, at this symposium, you’re going to hear all about that and more.  We have work to do and there’s no limit to where we can go.  So let’s get started.

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