The annual Supply Chain Forum hosted by University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Haslam School of Business included participation by AWESOME Executive Director Heather Sheehan. In addition to being a speaker and holding a roundtable, she was named Outstanding Woman in Supply Chain by UTK’s chapter of the student organization NeXxus.
The Supply Chain Forum has been held at UTK for more than 30 years and involves both practitioners and students. This year’s event was organized by Mary Long, who is managing director of the Global Supply Chain Institute’s Supply Chain Forum and an AWESOME Advisor. After Heather spoke to an audience of both executives and students on the topic of “Strategic Sourcing & Procurement’s Role in M&A,” a Q&A session was moderated by Dr. Wendy Tate, a professor of supply chain at UTK and a member of the AWESOME community.
Heather also held a roundtable discussion with members of NeXxus, a group whose mission is to increase awareness of the supply chain major and career opportunities for female students. This was moderated by Dr. Diane Mollenkopf, an associate professor of logistics and also an AWESOME community member. With the NeXxus group, Heather shared lessons from her career as a supply chain leader.
One of the students who participated in the event gave this account of hearing Heather’s insights during the roundtable session:
“She talked about what she does in her role of advancing women in executive supply chains roles and also about her past experience. She said that a lot of times it is easy to assume you are not ready to move on to the next big thing or role when you really are. This is one of the best ways to learn more though, to be thrown into new experiences. One of my favorite things she said was that it is important to build courage and not just confidence. Confidence is something you build over time through successes, but courage is taking the leap in daily experiences.”
When asked how she overcame the typical challenges women face in promoting themselves, Heather explained she was passed over for four years, but she kept asking for the job and presenting her ideas continuously. She advised, “If you want more responsibility, you have to ask and you may have to ask more than once.”
As Outstanding Women in Supply Chain, Heather serves as a role model for these future leaders.