Symposium Clips and Quips

While the memories are still fresh and while we are organizing the many hundreds of photos and words of wisdom we’ll share with you later, enjoy this first look back at last week’s AWESOME Symposium.

Before the Symposium even started, Heather Sheehan spoke at the General Session of the JDA FOCUS event presented by Host Sponsor JDA Software.


    • Supply chain leadership requires a really broad range of skills from the analytical and technical to the interpersonal. There are many women who have this range of skills, but they don’t necessarily see themselves as leadership material. So, identify those women you work with that have that range of skills and tell them they’re leadership material. It’s great to hear that from a trusted source.
    • It’s a joy to find so many other women at the executive level we can learn from and find ways we can support each other.
    • AWESOME also focuses on the three most important career aspects: Inclusion (getting in the door). Influence (getting a seat at the decision-making table). And impact (becoming a visionary leader and being able to execute on it). That’s why AWESOME is trying to support women – so they can aspire and rise to their career top level.

During Check-In at the Orlando World Center Marriott, Ulta Beauty designers provided complimentary hair and make-up services.

As Heather Sheehan said later in opening remarks, this was the first action that “made a difference.” While waiting for our turns, we enjoyed cupcakes, macaroons, and conversation with others attending the Symposium.

A tweet from a participant who especially enjoyed coming to the Symposium. Read more tweets from the Symposium.

Opening Reception

Heather Sheehan opened the Symposium and introduced a video featuring an Up-Close Conversation between Girish Rishi, CEO of Host Partner JDA Software and Nancy Nix.


    • A representative workforce is important for survival, growth, competition.
    • Advice for advancing your career: Think how you can have a positive impact on top-line revenue; take on unpopular projects and do them well; always keep a growth mindset and continue to learn.

Michelle Livingstone introduced an Out in Front talk by Lisa Borders, President of the WNBA


    • Life is a team sport.
    • Leadership is passion turned into action.
    • If you’re not willing to risk everything and “leave it all on the floor,” don’t play the game.
    • Failure is not fatal, it’s feedback.
    • There’s a special place in heaven for women who support other women.
    • Attributes of a leader: Competence, confidence, compassion
    • When asked by someone in the audience how to make the next generation of young men appreciate the strength and competence of women, Lisa suggested she take her sons to see the WNBA play.

Throughout the Symposium, people browsed and bought items from Nina McLemore’s collection of colorful, classy professional attire.


Heather Sheehan introduced AWESOME Founder Ann Drake


    • Quote from the Dalai Lama: “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”
    • The advancement of women in the supply chain profession depends on the actions of individual members of the network.
    • When this Symposium is over, you’ll be ready to make a difference.

Panel 1:

Read more about panel members

Leaders with more than 130 years of combined supply chain experience talked about Leading with Impact.


    • Some career leaps come from someone believing in us and challenging us.
    • Leadership skills needed in the current environment: resilience, visibility as a leader, ability to work cross-functionally, empathy
    • As a leader, your real impact is on other people; it’s important to “check your brand” and be aware of how you’re affecting people.
    • Sometimes not being steeped in a certain role is better – it causes you to bring in other experts and learn from others on the team.
    • If you’re no longer learning something in your role, push yourself to make a change.

Panel 2:

Read more about panel members

A panel of tech-savvy leaders was up next talking about Leveraging Technology.


    • New technologies likely to have most impact on the supply chain:
    • Artificial intelligence, robotics, predictive analytics, cyber security, and blockchain
    • To stay on top of rapidly changing technology: Use your internal and external network; learn from industry peers and vendor partners, current and potential; attend events.
    • Implementing new technology requires buy-in from top management and key stakeholders; stay aligned with business goals and strategies.
    • If a technology is not going to work, make sure it fails early – not at scale.

Up-Close Conversation with Ann Drake

Ann was interviewed about her career path and expectations for AWESOME by Cheryl Harbour.


    • I had some background in logistics because I was my father’s “only son” and he was in warehousing.
    • When I graduated from college, choices were nurse or teacher, so I became a teacher.
    • After an MBA from Kellogg, I offered my father a business plan for the company and as a result was named VP for Strategy and Culture.
    • Women’s business groups provided me with learning and support I’d never had before and it helped at each stage of my career.
    • With AWESOME, it will be the actions of individuals in the network that will make change happen for women in our industry.
    • I believe the next generation of C-suite leaders will come from the supply chain.

Making Waves

AWESOME Leaders brainstormed next steps for advancing women’s leadership.

Presentation of AWESOME Legendary Leadership Award

Susan Brennan – automotive industry trailblazer and COO of Bloom Energy; Ilya Marotta – as EVP of Engineering and Programs Management of Panama Canal Authority, she doubled the capacity of the waterway that is critical to the world commerce; Conversation with 2018 Honorees and Heather Sheehan


    • At times in our career, we may need to ask: Do I want to coast or do I want to grow?
    • The “woman thing” may not be an issue at first; more likely to come up when reaching the executive level
    • If you’re trying to be something you’re not – you’re not going to do a good job.
    • Men and women don’t need to be alike – they can complement each other. Women don’t need to try to blend in.

Research Results

AWESOME Leaders brainstormed next steps for advancing women’s leadership.

Findings of the 2018 AWESOME / Gartner Women in Supply Chain Survey were presented by Gartner’s Dana Stifler. The report is available for download.

Panel 3:

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Jeffery Tobias Halter, President of YWomen and author of WHY WOMEN: The Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men


    • Increasing inclusion and diversity is what great companies do
    • Diversity and inclusion is not “a journey.”
    • Up to 30% of male executives are ready to work on diversity, but they need direction.
    • What men can do: Listen and ask tough questions: “Tell me your experience in working here and tell me what I don’t understand.”

Panel 4:

Read more about panel members

Leaders talk about using supply chain and leadership skills for charitable organizations and Making a Difference.

Quips and tweets from members of the audience:

    • “Wow! Impressive work is being done by the non-profit organizations represented on the final panel today.”
    • “Leadership advice offered as part of the incredible agenda today.”

Closing Reception

See you next year – May 1-2, 2019
Location to be announced

Watch for more information on AWESOME future events

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