Career Resilience for Supply Chain Professionals
A Panel Discussion featuring Supply Chain Management Leaders
On September 15, 2021, CARISCA’s Executive Director, Dale Rogers, hosted a panel discussion on career resilience with four leaders: Ibtiasaama Ahmed, PhD student at Georgia Southern University and a former ASU and KNUST student, Dr. Pam Campbell, Superintendent of the Columbia School District in Michigan, Fern Shaw, President for UPS Northern Plains District, and Susie Uramoto, former COO of Mighty Leaf Tea.
The importance of building relationships
One recurring theme discussed was the importance of women speaking up and building relationships in the workplace. Uramoto described her first leadership experience at Nabisco, managing a warehouse of all male employees when she was a young, 23-year-old emerging leader.
“This is when I learned about managing upward in relationships,” Uramoto recalled. “At first, I wanted to fit in, so I started changing a little bit of who I really was in an attempt to fit in, and that did not work. What I soon realized is that I can just be myself and focus on what’s important to me, and that was relationship building. That’s what helped me be successful with leading that team and that ultimately led to another promotion.”
Panelists admitted that responding with confidence and resilience in the face of challenges has not always come easily to them, but rather it has taken intentional effort to encourage these characteristics within themselves.
Ahmed confronted these challenges early in her academic career when she continually went to her academic advisor at KNUST for assistance, a resource that isn’t always taken advantage of by students, especially young women within the Muslim tradition. It was that academic advisor who eventually encouraged Ahmed and pushed her application forward for the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, which gave Ahmed had the opportunity to study at ASU.
“You need to make people know who you are and what you stand for. They may not always agree with your values or your principles, but at the end of the day, they will respect you,” said Ahmed, as she reflected on how she gained confidence in school as she learned to present herself and her ideas to others.
“If you don’t speak up, you will be left behind,” said Ahmed.
Shaw related to the challenges of speaking up and growing confidence.
“To this day I’m still scared sometimes to use my voice, even with the position that I have. I just have to coach myself and encourage myself and almost plunge into whatever I know is right for that moment.”
Coaching herself and trusting her instinct has worked well for Shaw. Raised in a traditional Thai family and advised to stay quiet and respect her elders, using her voice as a young female leader was not something Shaw was trained to do, so she had to encourage herself.
“Diversity of thought is always something that’s needed in any type of environment or any type of meeting,” Shaw acknowledges.
Similarly, coaching is a skill set that Campbell uses in her leadership as superintendent. It was a coaching mentality, paired with engaged listening, that helped Campbell discover unique solutions to her district’s challenges and propelled her to success in her leadership role.
“Facilitate change through communication — ask questions and listen,” said Campbell.
Finding Work-Life Balance
At the end of the event, participants asked questions about work-life balance and how the panelists have been able to find career success while raising families. Uramoto talked about rising to the challenge when she was a single mother to a young daughter and held a significant role at Starbucks with global responsibilities.
“She [her daughter] had visited four to five countries with me before she was five years old and she also came to the office with me. One of her first words was ‘Starbucks!’” said Uramoto.
Uramoto’s daughter is now attending college and recently recalled how shadowing her mother as a young child helped to shape some of the characteristics she now embodies as an adult and emerging professional herself.
Shaw shared similar sentiments as she tried to find balance as a mother, noting that she’s had to be bold in speaking up for her needs in the workplace, whether they be physical needs like attending a doctor’s appointment or family needs like attending school events.
She also emphasized the importance of having these conversations at home, so she gets what she needs to be present with her family.
“What you want out of life, what you need, what you expect, these are important to discuss early with your spouse,” said Shaw.
At home and in the workplace, these industry leaders have proven that career resilience can be built with intentionality and a good support system.
“If you do not feel confident, you go out there and you do it anyway, because every single time that you go out and speak in front of people, share your thoughts, ask for things that you need. You are building that capability and you are building that confidence by having that experience,” Uramoto said.
“It’s really important to get a mentor — there are females in the business world, there are females in supply chain, and there are resources who you can meet with on a consistent basis. And then, when you make it to that level, it’s important for you to be a mentor to others.”
This panel was presented as part of CARISCA’s Advancing Women in Supply Chain Webinar Series, an ongoing effort to expand our work in access and inclusion, highlighting the importance of promoting women in supply chain as a top priority to achieve CARISCA’s goals and have a positive impact on Ghanaian and African livelihoods. The event is part of CARISCA’s ongoing Advancing Women in Supply Chain Webinar Series.
Ibtisaama Ahmed, PhD Student at Georgia Southern University
Ibtisaama Ahmed is a first-year PhD student in supply chain management at the College of Business of Georgia Southern University. Her research interest focuses on sustainable supply chain management. Before joining Arizona State University to complete her undergraduate and graduate education, Ahmed pursued her undergraduate degree at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. There, she won the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship to transfer to ASU to complete her degrees.
Ahmed has participated in many supply chain management case competitions receiving grants to create two businesses while pursuing her education, a robotics venture and an agribusiness venture in Ghana.
Dr. Pam Campbell, Superintendent, Columbia School District, Michigan
As a successful coach, Pam Campbell learned that it takes work to shape a winning team. Similarly, shaping the future of students takes working together with a focus on excellence. As a superintendent, Campbell has found that partnering with fellow educators, school board and community members while focusing on excellence has resulted in an increase in student success.
Campbell has advanced degrees from Michigan State University and Pepperdine University, including a PhD in Educational Administration from MSU. Campbell has served on the YMCA Board of Directors, the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Brooklyn Food Pantry Board, and the Chamber of Commerce. She also volunteers with the American Red Cross.
Fern Shaw, President, UPS Northern Plains District
Fern Shaw is president of UPS’s Northern Plains District with UPS Small Package responsibilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Since beginning her UPS career as an industrial engineering management trainee in 2005, Shaw has held numerous positions of increasing responsibility in operations technology, engineering, and package, transportation, and hub operations.
Shaw sponsors several of UPS’s leading committees: Diversity & Inclusion Steering Council, United Way, Profitable Growth, and the Corporate Upstarts Advisory committee. She also sponsors the Women’s Leadership Development, Women in Operations, Asian American, and LGBTQA+ business resource groups. Shaw was selected as a Young Global Leader (YGL) of the World Economic Forum for the class of 2018. She was also chosen to attend the 2020 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.
Susan Uramoto, Former COO of Mighty Leaf Tea
Throughout a supply chain and operations career spanning 28 years, Susan Uramoto has held leadership positions with major consumer brands such as The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks Coffee Company.
Realizing an affinity to help start-ups and emerging brands, Uramoto joined Mighty Leaf Tea Company as COO, supporting their growth and successful acquisition by Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Subsequently, she supported the growth of brands such as thinkThin! and Nona Lim Noodles and Soups as VP of Operations.
In 2019, Uramoto started a sabbatical to pursue her other passion, psychology, and travel across the U.S. with her husband, Dan. She has one daughter, who just completed her first year of university, studying art.
As a thank you for attending this event, we have compiled a free toolkit to assist you in your continued work creating a resilient professional career.
At the Center for Applied Research and Innovation in Supply Chain–Africa (CARISCA), our mission is to support higher education institutions in building capacity to
- Provide best-in-class degree programs and training
- Facilitate research translation and utilization
- Engage stakeholders in best practices
- Increase the participation of women and disadvantaged populations in supply chain education and practice
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