To commemorate Black History Month, we interviewed AWESOME women leaders of color to share their stories, experiences, and perspectives on intersectionality in the supply chain industry. This week, we spoke with Hope Bentley, McDonald’s Senior Director of Strategic Sourcing, about her career journey in supply chain and thoughts about Black History Month in 2023.
Hope Bentley leads the Strategic Sourcing function responsible for the McDonald’s food menu across all 14,000 restaurants in the United States and transitioning to Head of Supply Chain at McDonald’s Canada, effective March 1, 2023. Her team’s accountability includes sustainable sourcing, supplier management, product costing, and pricing.
She joined McDonald’s in 2007 and has held roles in food sourcing, supply chain services, and new product development. Prior to McDonald’s, her twenty-plus-year career included roles in Operations, Supply Chain, and Marketing Operations with Rockwell International, W. W. Grainger, and ULTA. She has achieved industry certifications for APICS and CPM.
Here are some key highlights of the conversation:
AWESOME: Welcome to our discussion, Hope. We hope that this interview will raise awareness and spark conversation about the important role that black women do play in supply chain industry during Black History Month and throughout the year.
HOPE: “Thank you, I love that AWESOME is highlighting Black History Month and doing that by highlighting some of the Women of Color within supply chains. I love that it’s growing in the number of women who are leading key roles from where I started many years ago in my career […] Every time I pick up a magazine and see another black woman highlighted as leading a supply chain organization, it’s just really terrific.”
AWESOME: What led you to your path in supply chain?
HOPE: “I started off in college wanting to go into business. There was this new major under management called operations management, and it seemed like it was going to be a combination of business as well as computer science. At the time, computer science was on the radar screen for most of us. I thought that would be an interesting area to dive into. And there were, to my knowledge, very few, if any, other black students. I thought, hey, I’d love to go do that and maybe represent them a little bit, honestly. That was way before we called it supply chain, it was operations management. It’s been great to see that discipline grow over time and really get the recognition that it has today.”
AWESOME: How did you navigate through the supply chain industry to get to where you are now?
HOPE: “I’m sure a lot of people navigate the industry by developing relationships, building those relationships, and leveraging those relationships. And that’s certainly important. For me, sponsorships have made a difference, they help to open doors for you to take on new roles and responsibilities. I’ve had some great sponsors throughout my career! Also, staying connected to the industry through industry organizations, like Institute for Supply Management, and APICS at the time…and taking those workshops, attending those conferences, reading their literature, and staying very current on how the industry was progressing, what the new ways of working technology, understanding and adapting to new innovation that was coming. As I learned more about new innovation, you learn about roles, and then it becomes something to aspire to. That’s how I’d stay connected and navigated my way through…by looking for those new opportunities to broaden my own experience, perspective, and understanding. ”
AWESOME: As we are in the midst of Black History Month, what comes to mind when you think of Black History Month in 2023?
HOPE: “The first thing that came to mind was thinking about all that has been accomplished, but then you also think about how much more there is to do…”
AWESOME: What do you think is the biggest barrier that Black women or Women of Color in leadership are up against? And what has been your experience?
HOPE: “For me, I feel like there are just general barriers. I don’t know if it’s necessarily Women of Color, or even being a woman, but ensuring that you’re leaning into developing the right experiences to grow you as a leader if that’s your ambition. Leaning into the right relationship-building and soft skills, leaning into those elements that make you a great leader. All of those things, I think, can become barriers, if you’re not actively managing them.”
AWESOME: What are some lessons that you carry that contributed to your success in your career?
HOPE: “One thing is high self-reflection. You really have to know what drives you. [Knowing] what your ambitions are, what motivates you, and recognizing what your strengths are, and really leaning into those strengths.
There was a workshop that we had here once at McDonald’s on innovation. And we had an external speaker, who was a world-champion Olympic speed skater. It made such an impact on me…remember it to this day. It was probably five…seven, or eight years ago. He shared his story and how he was shooting for greatness. He had connected with a coach. The coach was helping him to strengthen the areas that he needed strengthening and were weaker. His performance declined to the point where he took a step back and decided to take a step away from the sport for a little while. Then, he reengaged with another coach, who helped him to recognize his strengths and to lean into his strengths. When he did that, he broke records.
What I took away from that was that as leaders, and even for ourselves, the value is leaning into our strengths. When we’re working with our team and leading our team, it’s recognizing where their strengths lie, and how we can leverage the strengths collectively across that team.”
AWESOME: What success or positive actions have you seen displayed, especially in the supply chain industry, to have uplifted the topic of diversity?
HOPE: “I think, like most businesses, supply chain is universal and global. And it has to happen in every market in every corner of the world. Supply chain helps to connect the world…we’re more interconnected than we’ve ever been. That has enabled us or created the ability to connect with people that we may or may not have ever connected with in any other way. Supply chain in that way, like business or maybe even more so than other areas of business…because our supply chains have become so global and interconnected…we’ve had to connect in that way with people from all over the world to get the job done.”