Throughout AWESOME’s development as a network and organization to advance women supply chain leaders, women in the field have expressed the desire to hear each other’s stories, to learn from each other and to compare experiences.
It is also one of AWESOME’s priorities to recognize successful leaders — to put the “Spotlight On” their accomplishments, their journeys, and their perspectives.
We will continue to add “Spotlights” on outstanding leaders. Please tell us about your news or recommend someone whose story should be shared.
Recommend someone for a spotlight
Spotlight On AWESOME Leader
President and COO, SpaceX
Gwynne Shotwell leads a company with a “far out” supply chain
Both Gwynne Shotwell’s career and her company, SpaceX, really took off in 2008 when the company landed a $1.6 billion deal with NASA to resupply the International Space station. Gwynne has served as the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer for the past nine years.
In an article in Marie Claire, Gwynne talks about the ups (35 successful launches) and downs (including rockets exploding on take-off in June 2015 and September 2016) and the goal of launching the “Big Falcon Rocket” designed to transport citizens and supplies to Mars.
Those are big plans for a woman with a degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in applied mathematics who chose her field after being impressed with one of the speakers at a Society of Women Engineers conference her mother took her to when Gwynne was a teenager. In the interview Gwynne recalls, “Her shoes were marvelous, her bag matched, and she just made mechanical engineering accessible to me.”
Before joining SpaceX in 2002 as VP of business development, she worked for Chrysler in the pre-executive leadership program and for Aerospace Corporation doing projects that were “intensely technical and analytical” for 10 years.
Spotlight On 2017 AWESOME Legendary Leadership (ALL) Award honorees
Highlights of Up-Close Conversation following Award Presentation, May 2017
Steps, decisions, experiences and actions that contributed to their success
Highlights of the Up-Close Conversation with Francesca and Kristin
- Both Francesca and Kristin mentioned the influence of their mothers in giving them confidence to pursue their careers. Francesca said her mother told her every day: “You’re smart and beautiful and can do whatever you set out to do as long as you work hard.” Francesca said “she might have been a little biased but that was okay for me. I really felt I could do anything.”
Kristin said her mother didn’t get to do a lot of things Kristen was able to do growing up and “she always empowered me to try to reach the fullest.” Although Kristin hadn’t any experience with the military and didn’t come from a military family, she had her parents full support when she decided to attend West Point.
Came to supply chain through other experiences
- Francesca came to her career in supply chain working as a finance person for McDonald’s in Europe about the time the European Union was formed and borders began disappearing between countries. Francesca was involved in re-thinking McDonald’s strategy for locating their facilities and how they would distribute their products through Europe. She took on the role of support person to the supply chain organization and loved learning about the way things are made and the production facilities. She moved from finance to supply chain 15 years ago and advanced to Chief Supply Chain Officer.
While a cadet at West Point, Kristin spent a tour in Texas and worked in petroleum and logistics and “fell in love” with logistics. In the early stages, she did warehousing (receiving “stored issue and repair parts”), then progressed through the ranks to senior levels of leadership. When she retired from the military as a Brigadier General, she had the “opportunity of a lifetime” to work with the government in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as a career civilian. She had originally wanted to fly helicopters.
Not afraid of the “big jobs”
- As CSCO, Francesca realized the major impact a supply chain of McDonald’s scale and scope could have on the environment. She also saw “a lot of opportunities to embed sustainability in the business.” The position of Sustainability Officer opened up and Francesca suggested she combine that role with her supply chain role. Initially, she was told it was “too big a job.” It took two years – and, Francesca explained – a presentation she created on the topic to market the idea to everyone in the organization, but she succeeded in combining the roles.
Kristin’s years in the military included two deployments as a commander, resulting in her being awarded a bronze star for each. In 2003, she went to Iraq in the midst of the U.S. defeating Saddam Hussein and commanded a logistics squadron of 1,000 men and women providing multifunctional supplies and services throughout western Iraq. In 2013, she was commander of an expeditionary sustainment command in Afghanistan, leading 8,000 people doing all the logistics for the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. In the biggest, broadest view, Kristin says “One thing that makes America so strong is that we’re able to deploy anywhere at any time and sustain our combat forces overseas – and that’s because of logistics.”
Forming relationships outside the usual parameters
- In her sustainability leadership role, Francesca and McDonald’s started a global roundtable for sustainable beef, bringing together the people who provide the beef for McDonald’s to agree on practices. She’s also a believer in transparency – and is making an effort to communicate to customers the quality of the beef based on the supply chain and the sustainability practices that deliver it.
As part of her responsibilities with the Department of Defense, Kristin is in the strategic level, making decisions that affect service members all across the globe. She currently holds bilateral discussions and forums with other countries and is the U.S. lead in a joint supply chain forum with English-speaking partners – UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
Supporting the advancement of women
- Francesca also serves as the Global Advisor to McDonald’s Women’s Leadership Network. She’s working with women officers from around McDonald’s global operations on a business case for gender balance at the company (defined by McDonald’s as between 40% and 60% men and women). Francesca’s direct report leadership team is 50% women and 50% men and gender balance has been achieved throughout her teams as well as her emerging leaders.
Kristin recognizes that the only about 14-17% of military members are women, but women have made gains in many of the areas previously closed to them, including serving in aviation, on submarines and, most recently, in combat duty. She said that after hearing some of the discussion at the Symposium, one of her driving forces in the future is going to be “going out and trying to find young women who really can excel.” In 2016, Kristin attended a celebration of 40 years of women at West Point.
- According to Francesca, “At a certain point in your career, you realize ‘I might know a few things and it’s time for me to give back.’” She focused on what she was really passionate about and now is active on the boards of Loyola University’s Supply and Value Chain Center and Hephzibah Children’s Association, a local organization where she lives that supports abused children. She’s also active in AWESOME events, and says coming to the AWESOME Symposium gives her “the inspiration and the courage to go on” with her demanding job and life.
When Kristin was in the military, she was not able to be on outside boards. Now that she’s a government civilian, she serves on the board of the National Industries of the Blind. There are 73 different agencies across the U.S. working with blind persons who produce items for the military. With Kristin’s background she is able to help them understand what’s needed most.
Words of Wisdom for other leaders
- Francesca: 1. “Think about your situation as if it was your best friend or your daughter – and ask, ‘what would I want her to do?’” 2. “Don’t take your decisions too seriously. Make the decision – and go out and do it.” 3. “If you really think you have something to add and you don’t get a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
Kristin: 1. “You have to be willing to take risks early on in your career and that might mean relocating or working in a job that’s not in your comfort zone, but you’ll learn from it and you’ll be a better person and more well-rounded because of it.” 2. “Think about the next 5 or 10 years and figure out what’s best for you regarding work/life balance.”
Spotlight On AWESOME Network Member
Corporate real estate, procurement, supply chain, and operations executive: former Head of Global Real Estate and Facilities for Hewlett-Packard
Named Education and Learning Person of the Year by ISM (Institute for Supply Management), May 2017
It’s no surprise to people who’ve worked with Jill Zunshine that she would be selected to receive the Education and Learning Person of the Year Award from ISM (Institute for Supply Management). Throughout her career, she’s been a strong proponent of professional development, encouraging those on her team and all those around her to keep adding to and strengthening their skills.
Her own career hasn’t been a typical or straight path, but rather a steady stream of roles, education, and certifications that added new dimensions to her abilities.
Maybe the ice hockey experience she had at age nine has something to do with it. After watching her older brother on ice hockey teams, Jill decided she wanted to be on the ice, too. There weren’t any girls’ teams and there weren’t any girls participating on boys’ teams – but before long, Jill was on the team.
“I had the benefit of three sponsors,” Jill explains. The first was Title IX, the legislation passed in 1972 that required equal opportunity in education and athletics for girls. The second sponsor was her dad who “went to bat” (or “went bar down” in hockey language) with the local hockey board. When that didn’t convince the board, Jill’s dad asked for help from NOW, the National Organization for Women. As a result, Jill was permitted to join the team, and many girls followed her example in the years after that.
Jill credits hockey and other sports experiences with instilling qualities that have been useful in her career – teaching her how to be part of a team, how to compete the right way, and how to ask for and act on feedback. She also drew from another early experience, and says she was actually “born into supply chain.” Her parents owned a small supply chain business where she worked every summer when she was in school. She did all sorts of jobs, and as her own education and skills advanced, she launched a regional delivery service and helped the company modernize its billing and accounting processes.
After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue, she went to work for AT&T and then on to Lucent. Early in her career, Jill was involved in network modelling and viewed making informed decisions about location as a critical component of business strategy. That became especially important when she was Head of Global Real Estate & Facilities at Hewlett-Packard Company, because HP operated 800 sites around the world – each with its own set of circumstances related to customers, talent, cost, and risk, among other things.
Jill’s career path has taken her through a number of industries where she’s been the first woman or one of the only women – engineering, real estate, financial services, supply chain, and technology. As she says, “Somebody has to go first,” and she doesn’t mind being that somebody at all. “I do what I can to make people comfortable and earn their confidence because I believe that makes it easier for the next woman who comes along.”
Jill joined the board of ISM because she decided that was a good way to give back. One of her major projects was designing a survey to determine what Chief Procurement Officers and others in the field really needed in the way of skills and talent to stay current and competitive. Once the survey feedback was collected and analyzed, Jill led the development of programs ISM will provide to respond to those needs.
In addition to professional development, there are several other areas Jill feels she’s ready to contribute to the supply chain field based on her own experiences. One is helping women to navigate through the “ebb and flow” of their careers. The other is to spread the word about how essential external networks and alliances are. “They are a crucial part of building a successful career,” Jill says.
Networking and helping other women advance – those are two of the reasons Jill connected with AWESOME.