Meet Alyson Weber, a 2019 AWESOME Scholar and a 2020 graduate of Syracuse University – Martin J. Whitman School of Management with a Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain Management.
Alyson first became interested in supply chain while taking an introductory course during her sophomore year. In this course, Alyson’s professor addressed current events taking place around the world and the impact that supply chain has on the economy. She also learned about the complex, analytical, and innovative aspects of supply chain. Alyson’s professor was enthusiastic and passionate about supply chain and the potential for impactful change. She decided to change her major after this course and has never looked back. She knew it was the right decision and would lead to numerous exciting career opportunities in the future.
As Alyson reflected on her academic experience majoring in Supply Chain Management, she said that learning how supply chain interconnects globally was one of the most influential topics discussed in her classes. She also learned the importance of understanding all the factors beyond bottom-line costs in order to develop a strategic set of diversified suppliers and maintain resilience in one’s supply chain.
“It’s important to understand why we engage with international suppliers in so many industries today. I needed to learn about how government trade regulations, labor costs, and exchange rates are all related and can impact sourcing decisions and costs for a company in the United States,” she said.
Alyson advises young women studying supply chain to think beyond logistics or operations and learn about all the different career options for supply chain. She foresees that exciting new career opportunities and impactful change will be brought by new technological innovations and continuous improvement methodologies entering the industry.
“I would tell young women to take classes and look for internships in as many different supply chain areas as possible. This exposure will deepen your understanding in how the entire supply chain flows. ”
In July, Alyson began her career in supply chain as a Sourcing Analyst at General Mills and looks forward to creating positive change not only for the company’s financial performance, but hopefully someday for the environment, food security, and labor conditions for manufacturing and farming too.
“I am incredibly excited to begin my career at General Mills and work with other passionate individuals to solve unique and interesting sourcing problems in our supply chain. It’s very fulfilling to know that the work my team does ultimately have a downstream impact on consumers’ shared experiences that are created while eating the products we make,” she added.
Meet Nancy Odero, a 2014 AWESOME Excellence in Education Scholar and a 2015 Miami University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain and Operations Management.
Nancy first applied as a major in Finance, however, after attending an information session on Supply Chain Management (a relatively new major at Miami’s Farmer School of Business) and learning more, Nancy knew that Supply Chain Management was the right major for her.
When Nancy graduated and started working, she loved being in the trenches and managing the challenges of supply chains. When being interviewed for her AWESOME Scholar Spotlight, Nancy said that the two most important and influential things she’s learned while studying supply chain are to embrace change and to seek improvements in the way things are done.
“Supply Chain is about continuously seeking improvements. Nothing is perfect, there is always a better way to get things done. It’s an ever-evolving industry and as more and more innovations come into play, you need to learn to fully embrace change to thrive and excel.”
Nancy adds that in times of economic distress, such as the devastating impact that COVID-19 is having on the global economy, supply chain logistics and demand have been exposed more than ever. She envisions in a post COVID-19 that organizations must embrace digitization in order to build more resilient supply chains.
Nancy has recently accepted a new role that is a small pivot away from supply chain. She’s always found the challenge of continuous improvements to be most exciting. She loved the opportunity to work behind the scenes, be part of the process that enables others to get what they need when they need it and to take what she learned as a Supply Chain major and experience it every day.
Nancy is currently working for Moko Home + Living as a Senior Project Lead within the Business Operations team in Nairobi, Kenya. Her goal within the company is to ensure the operations are running as effectively as possible, which includes a variety of cross-functional projects. Nancy is the acting head of the Operations team which includes inventory, facilities management and dispatch/delivery. She has been working closely with the team to streamline their processes and establish stronger structure to ensure high performance.
“Every organization goes through periods of change and being in the SCM field you need to learn to embrace it or be left behind. Supply Chain is all about improvements, and you need to continuously seek to improve processes as there is always a more efficient way to get things done.”
Meet Kailey Peterson, a 2019 AWESOME Excellence in Education Scholar and a 2020 Michigan State University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Logistics, Materials and Supply Chain Management.
Kailey was initially set on a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business, however, when she began applying to colleges, she was fortunate enough to meet with a student relations director who introduced to her to Supply Chain Management. After learning more, Kailey felt that supply chain was more aligned to her interpersonal skills and her desire to drive change.
While studying at Michigan State, Kailey said that since her degree encompasses operations management, logistics, and procurement management, that fully understanding the various ways supply chain impacts corporations was extremely important as a foundation for the technical skills she needs today.
“My degree encompasses operations management, logistics and procurement management, which can be reframed as producing, moving, and selling of products. Supply chain supports every industry and is essential to having a successful business.”
After graduation, Kailey accepted an offer with Kohler Company as a Supply Chain Associate. She’s in the trenches every day and is learning the complexity of supply chain, the factors that go into problem-solving and decision-making, as well as all the parts that can be interchanged to solve one problem.
“The most exciting part about starting my career is the endless possibilities it holds. One of the great things about supply chain is that it is such a vast and dynamic field. There is so much to learn about supply chain that it inspires me to innovate and collaborate with the best and brightest of the industry — especially during these uncertain times, where the needs of supply chains are constantly changing, pushing me to learn and grow.”
When asked about the impact that COVID-19 has on supply chain, Kailey feels that COVID-19 has uncovered an overlooked component in supply chain—the importance of human labor. In addition to human labor, she mentions that the other challenges the global supply chain is currently facing include locating and procuring materials, having enough lead time, and the diversity of resource management.
As Kailey reflects on her supply journey thus far, she is happy that she’s in an industry that offers an infinite field of possibilities and also offers the opportunity to continuously learn and evolve.
“The opportunity to try new things comes naturally in this industry and will always allow for critical thinking and self-discovery. I cannot emphasize enough how versatile and outstanding the world of supply chain is and would urge young women to get involved and help us change the standard of a male-dominated industry.”
As an AWESOME Scholar, Kailey says the AWESOME program teaches her advanced learnings, new ideas, and innovations that she brings to her full-time career. Last year, she had the opportunity to attend as part of AWESOME the CSCMP Edge conference in Anaheim which exposed her to women supply chain leaders and adds that being part of the AWESOME community has not only increased her technical knowledge of supply chain but also her confidence.
Meet Hannah Walcher, a 2016 AWESOME Excellence in Education Scholar and a 2017 Colorado State University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a Concentration in Supply Chain Management.
Hannah started learning about supply chain while taking an introductory level class at Colorado State University. Immediately after attending the first class, Hannah declared it her major. Hannah’s interest in supply chain wasn’t a surprise. As a little girl, she played with trains and Legos, and never missed an episode of the show “How It’s Made.” Hannah is certain this was the right decision.
“Supply chain management is logical and systematic while being full of opportunity for creative
problem-solving. It connected the dots between the subjects I was interested in, matched my passion for making an impact, and my skillset for solving problems.”
After graduation, Hannah accepted a position as a Supply Chain Associate at Johns Manville. As a professional, she learned right away that real application was more complicated than in theory. From a technical standpoint, Hannah quickly became an Excel expert, learned how to visualize and present data, and how to structure business-critical negotiations.
“In a lot of organizations, cost is the #1 factor when evaluating operational solutions, supplier partners or capital investments. In theory the right solution or partner should mitigate risk, be the ethically superior option, and provide additional innovative/value-add benefits. Defaulting to defending cost as total landed cost and quantifying the value of productivity or brand reputation was a habit that had to be developed.”
As Hannah reflects on her academic experience, understanding the many ways that supply chains were both connected and interdependent within an organization was very helpful. Other key takeaways include learning how a supplier’s actions can impact multiple levels within an organization and beyond, how to present data effectively, and how communication and alignment of priorities were critical to achieving success.
Today, Hannah has been in the supply chain profession for three years and is now an Internal Auditor at Johns Manville. Her current responsibilities include conducting on-site audits of operational processes, global manufacturing plants, and financial transactions. Hannah enjoys waking up and using her supply chain management skills to make an impact at Johns Manville in an atypical application.
“The favorite parts of my career thus far have been opportunities to see operational processes firsthand, whether it be a raw materials supplier’s mine in the Midwest or one of our manufacturing plants in Germany. Seeing it, understanding it, and determining how it can be completed with greater efficiencies, safety, and quality makes me feel eager for the future of my career.”
Meet Ashlyn Bowman, a 2020 AWESOME Excellence in Education Scholar who is studying Supply Chain Management and International Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Ashlyn was first introduced to supply chain in high school when she took a business course that focused on different functions within businesses. The course on supply chain, in particular, piqued Ashlyn’s interest. Ashlyn naturally wanted to learn more and decided to join a mentorship program with United Parcel Service (UPS). At UPS, Ashlyn learned how logistics and operations work together and how technology supports supply chain’s critical need to problem solve quickly. She enjoyed that each day was unpredictable and a continuous learning experience. It was then that Ashlyn knew a career in supply chain was the perfect match.
“It makes me excited to know my work and ideas can have a meaningful impact. The opportunities in supply chain are diverse and plentiful. The idea of being able to expand my horizon and learn the supply chain from end to end is motivating to me. You can’t put supply chain in a box, and I am inspired that my career can reach as far as I push myself.”
As Ashlyn began studying and working in supply chain, she quickly realized that the supply chain process is about filling the gap between expectations and reality. She looks forward to problem-solving situations in which there are multiple solutions.
“We deliver on promises that have been made. I’ve learned that everything can’t be perfectly planned, however, I have the capabilities to fill in that gap. It’s something I’ve translated to all parts of my life, not just my future career in supply chain. People will always have expectations, but you can only control the reality and make the best of that chance.”
One thing in particular that inspires Ashlyn is the advances that have been made within the supply chain function and the ripple effect they have on every function throughout an organization. She believes now more than ever companies will rely on partnering firms to help the demand and supply flow process. Ashlyn added that COVID-19 has pushed companies to prove their capabilities and prioritize.
Ashlyn is happy she pursued a career in supply chain, and particularly as a female. Being an AWESOME Scholar, she feels reassured to be part of an organization that empowers women in supply chain at every stage in their career. She recognizes that it’s become one of the most innovative fields in business and the search for outstanding women in supply chain is in high demand.
“Supply chain is influential and will continue to procure the next leaders and new CEO’s. To have women in those positions will alter what the industry could look like down the road. It’s time to rise up and lead the way.”
Meet Zoe Mattis, a 2017 AWESOME Excellence in Education Scholar and a 2017 Lehigh University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain Management and Logistics.
Zoe is currently employed at Air Products as the North American Fleet Business Improvement Lead with one of her responsibilities being quantifying various telemetry data types including runouts, cycle times, and maintenance costs to increase productivity as well as identify opportunities to decrease the number of return trips.
Prior to Air Products, Zoe worked at Nestle Waters where she brought inventory costs to an all-time low by reviewing their current supply process, delivering the necessary amount of raw materials to the optimal locations and implementing a plan to maintain a record-low Days on Hand (DOH) of raw materials for Co-Manufacturing locations.
Zoe has been an AWESOME Scholars Excellence in Education since she graduated in 2015. Zoe’s interest in supply chain started in college when she reached out to professors to explore a degree in Supply Chain Management and Logistics. She loved how passionate they were about the work they accomplished in the field prior to entering academia and their diverse career trajectories.
“When I first started at Lehigh University, I originally wanted to pursue a dual degree in engineering and business. I wanted to combine my passion for mechanical engineering and my love of business, but then found out that my “love” for mechanical engineering was not about how things function – it was how things are made.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoe sees firsthand the impact that COVID-19 has on supply chain as well as the shifts in demand and the need for customer prioritization. Air Products, where Zoe is currently employed, provides industrial gases and related equipment to dozens of industries, touching the lives of consumers every day. Now more than ever, they’re focused on gathering teams and working together to support any facility that has a need for medical oxygen, holding safety as their number one priority.
Zoe goes on to say that the most influential and important learning from studying and living the world of supply chain revolves around agility.
“Agility focuses on being able to keep up with the flow of changes in business and adaptation to meet stakeholder needs. This is something that I struggled with prior to studying supply chain, as it was tough to be flexible when plans didn’t go their originally planned way. This has been a critical skill in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and has proved invaluable in my professional and personal life.”
As Zoe thinks about her career in supply chain what excites her most is the endless opportunity. She’s inspired by the various career paths, business sectors, and organizations that have robust supply chain programs. Zoe finds the possibility to grow and morph into a different industry at a moment’s notice exciting and enjoys waking up every morning with anticipation of what the day will bring, especially a time when supply chain is facing new challenges than ever before.
“There are so many different career paths, business sectors, and organizations that have robust supply chains. Having this experience is invaluable and it is energizing to know that there is a possibility to grow and morph into a different industry at the drop of a hat. I also find that every day in the supply chain is a little bit different, and there is always something new to tackle. It is fun to see what each day brings, especially during the current times with supply chains facing new challenges than ever before.”
Meet McKenzie Meehan, a 2019 AWESOME Scholar and a 2020 graduate of the University of Arkansas – Sam M. Walton College of Business. McKenzie was also named one of the school’s Outstanding Supply Chain Management Students.
McKenzie’s career journey began when she took an Introduction to Supply Chain course taught by Stephanie Powell Thomas, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor at Walton College of Business. Dr. Thomas has since become a mentor to McKenzie.
“Professor Thomas teaches by integrating theory and material with her personal experiences of working in the supply chain industry,” McKenzie shared. “Her stories and lessons made me really interested in the relationship and problem-solving aspects of supply chain.” In a recent interviewwith her favorite professor, McKenzie said that changing her major to supply chain was the best thing she’s ever done.
“It’s been a privilege to work with and mentor McKenzie,” Professor Thomas shared. ”She is so authentic and I’m so proud of all that McKenzie accomplished at the University of Arkansas, but I know this is just the tip of the iceberg for her. She is truly AWESOME!”
In her Scholar Spotlight e-interview, McKenzie touched on the disruption of COVID-19 on supply chain and how businesses need to react quickly to changing conditions in order to meet customer needs. She feels inspired by the new innovations, discoveries, and technologies that have entered the supply chain industry during a time of devastation.
McKenzie is currently working at General Mills Inc. as a Sales Associate on the Walmart account team. She hopes to support the Cereal product team as she did during a prior internship at the company and continue to work with brands such as Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Reese’s Puffs.
“Everything General Mills is doing now, especially with COVID-19, really makes me feel like I have a purpose and that I am joining a company that is helping people maintain a sense of normalcy during a time of change and unsureness.”
As an AWESOME Scholar, McKenzie looks towards connecting with numerous industry leaders and to continue learning all the different areas of supply chain. The distinction has also provided her the opportunity to be a champion for AWESOME and, eventually, mentor future AWESOME Scholars.