There never has been a better time for women to enter the field of logistics and supply chain management, says Drake. “The kind of talent that is needed in the industry today is that of orchestrator – people who are able to pull together different pieces and teams to work across organizations and silos,” she says. “This is something that most women naturally do quite well.”
Despite this, the number of women in leading logistics roles is quite narrow, she observes. “Our industry traditionally has been seen as a sort of rough-and-tumble world where brawn counted more than brains and where things got done through good-old-boy networks rather than an open sharing of information,” she says.
One indication that this is slowly changing is an increase in the number of women students taking supply chain courses at colleges and universities, says Drake. “But I still am concerned that our industry is missing out on some really great talent.”
To try and remedy this situation Drake created a new organization with the acronym AWESOME: Achieving Womens’ Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management and Education. “We created this branding and a logo and then set about to find who were the top women in the field.” Drake says this search was focused on women in operations positions, at a level of director or above, at logistics providers, shippers and consultants. “We want to increase womens’ roles in operations because that is where most decisions are made that impact profit and loss, but really we are looking for women in all areas,” she says.
The names have come in one or two at a time, says Drake. “I would email someone I know and they would add one or two names. We now have about 400 names and very few names are coming in as repeats, so I feel there are still people out there we haven’t yet reached.”
AWESOME had its first meeting in May 2013 in Chicago and will reconvene in October in conjunction with the CSCMP conference in Denver.
Her goal is to make AWESOME an active, grass-roots organization. “This summer we are asking women who attended the first conference what they would like to see us do in the future. We are hoping to have a really good meeting in Denver and then begin rolling out some initiatives in 2014,” she says. “I really think this is the time to educate ourselves and to reach out and help other women connect to opportunities and to create more leadership roles for women.”
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