As we prepare to mark International Women’s Day (Wednesday, March 8th), we reached into our network of impressive female procurement executives, consultants, and thought leaders. They provided us with frank insights about the unique opportunities for impact within procurement, what we can do to make procurement a more inclusive profession, and – most importantly – why they LOVE procurement.
Procurement = Impact
With a relatively contained representation at the undergraduate level, procurement and supply chain are fields that professionals discover along their way in another career. Once they discover it, however, and see the opportunity for strategic, measurable impact, they are usually hooked.
Simrit Sandhu, Chief Supply Chain & Support Services Officer at Cleveland Clinic, talks about her pride in the profession, “My professional interests in end-to-end business process optimization and value creation allowed for a seamless transition into supply chain management. The healthcare supply chain appeals to me deeply because every day we are touching the lives of patients and people in our surrounding communities.”
Tania Seary, Founder of Procurious, remembers a feeling of ”illumination” in the moment she discovered the impact that she could have in procurement, “We have an ever increasing role to play in delivering value to HR, marketing, finance & operations. There are no boundaries to the value procurement can deliver.”
That value is received by many stakeholder groups, both inside and outside of the enterprise. As Laurence Mechali, SVP of Professional Services at Ivalua, observed,
“You will get to work with and manage amazingly smart people. You will have plenty of opportunities to express your creativity and leadership. You will be at the edge of innovation while at the same time building strong knowledge about industry and business processes.”
Increasing Professional Diversity
Although we can celebrate the insights and accomplishments of women who are currently making their mark in procurement, there is still work to be done. Active mentorship and targeted recruiting programs are needed to ensure that the diversity of procurement talent matches the range of our results.
Sylvie NOËL, Chief Procurement Officer of Covea Group Procurement, sees the need for outreach, making sure other ambitious professionals experience the same spark of inspiration she did, “Ask to be challenged in what you do and exchange ideas regularly with peers in other sectors. Make the decision to reinvent!”
Efforts to win girls and women to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are clearly paying off, as Laura Smith, Ivalua’s Director of Sales for the Central Region, points out, “Women now make up 59% of the total workforce, with 3 out of 4 of girls expressing a desire for a career in STEM fields. I think women in tech will continue to rise in the future and it will become a common and exciting career for girls across the world.”
“In the technology world, you will at times be the only woman in a sea of men, but do not capitulate to their way of thinking or allow it to suppress your ideas. Embrace your uniqueness with confidence knowing that things are only impossible, until someone makes them possible.” These words from Debra Willis of Ivalua. For example, Hedy Lamarr invented the groundbreaking wireless transmission technology in 1941 that was used to guide torpedos without detection in World War II. This technology paved the way for the modern inventions of WiFi, GPS and bluetooth.
Why we LOVE procurement
The future does indeed look bright for procurement and for the female leaders in its ranks. We’ll give the final word to these women, who have known for a long time that the opportunity for procurement and the unique qualifications of women are a strong combination:
“This job is an opportunity to work internally and externally with many people, to form a team that discovers and brings value to an ecosystem.” – Sylvie Noël
“Supply Chain helps ensure businesses respond to market and customer needs in an adaptive, agile fashion, creating the most value for stakeholders.” – Simrit Sandhu
“You will learn something new every day – not because you are a woman – but because this is how exciting this field is for any professional.” – Laurence Mechali
“The more knowledge you have about how your supply chain ‘ecosystem’ works, the better decisions you will make. This will gain you respect and hopefully…that all-important promotion.” – Tania Seary
“It provides me with the opportunity to be very creative by designing solutions and painting a vision of a future state, and by creating a roadmap to get there with technology.” – Laura Smith
As we celebrate the 45th annual International Women’s Day, let us stop and recognize all that we have achieved in procurement to date before setting our sights on even greater diversity and opportunity in 2020 and beyond.