Across industries, many professional roles are still dominated by men. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women have consistently earned 80–82% of what men earn for the past 15 years. To help curb this effect and lift up women in the supply chain management industry, the AWESOME Excellence in Education Scholarship was created in 2013.
AWESOME, which stands for Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply chain Operations, Management, and Education, has given aspiring business leaders the opportunity to attend conferences and connect with a strong network of women.
Over the years, Broad Spartans have been honored among the AWESOME Scholarship winners. This year, rising junior Mallory Johnson and rising senior Courtney Palkowski were among the 20 recipients — the largest cohort to date.
“It is truly an honor to know that such a phenomenal group of women believe in me as a student and a leader,” Johnson said.
In addition to majoring in supply chain, Johnson is also studying information technology and environmental sustainability. This summer, she’s taking on an internship with L3Harris Technologies and hopes to spend her career creating sustainable supply chains.
“Sustainability is a fast-moving issue, and I would love to be a part of a solution for many of the environmental problems that the world faces today,” she said.
For Palkowski, receiving the 2021 AWESOME Scholarship is one of her greatest achievements during her time at MSU.
“I get to represent the women in supply chain and the supply chain management program at Michigan State at a national level, which is a huge honor,” she said.
Palkowski is also a supply chain major, with cognates in Spanish and international business. She is interning for A&R Logistics this summer and plans to become a professor of supply chain someday.
In addition, Palkowski represents MSU on the advisory board for WISE, a student organization at the University of Arkansas that is also focused on empowering women in supply chain.
“This past year I have found a passion in helping to promote, encourage and support women in the supply chain field, especially at the university level,” she said. “I actually know a couple of the [AWESOME] scholarship recipients because they either are a part of WISE or participated in the WISE Instagram takeover event I helped create for the WISE Connections Advisory Board.”
For this year’s recipients, the 2021 AWESOME Scholarship opportunity was expanded to also include a $5,000 award for tuition.
“This scholarship opens up a whole new opportunity to connect with women in supply chain throughout the country to learn from them and see what we can implement here at MSU,” Palkowski said.
Johnson added, “This scholarship will not only help finance my education but connect me with an incredible group of likeminded female leaders in the supply chain management industry.”
An instrumental opportunity
Simone Peinkofer, assistant professor of supply chain management, has helped select and nominate Spartans for the AWESOME Scholarship, alongside Judy Whipple, Bowersox-Thull Professor in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, since 2018. In addition, since 2019 she has served as the Broad faculty advisor for the WISE Symposium, where she has gotten to know Palkowski.
“I think it is critical for aspiring young female supply chain management students to have some role models and to develop a network of outstanding female supply chain leaders,” Peinkofer said. “Having a support network of like-minded and supportive women in supply chain management can help students to be inspired and reach their full leadership potential.”
For the Broad Spartans who received the AWESOME scholarship in the past, the opportunity has been instrumental in their careers.
“The network of women gives me access to enthusiastic mentors and peers who help advise, inspire and encourage me to achieve greatness,” Kailey Peterson (B.A. Supply Chain Management ’19), supply chain associate at Kohler, said. “I cannot emphasize enough how much this program has elevated my experience as a working professional, especially during this period of remote work.”
For Sarah DiPietro (B.A. Supply Chain Management ’12, MBA ’19), assistant program purchasing manager for battery electric trucks at General Motors, the AWESOME network has given her a chance to take aspiring women in supply chain under her wing.
“They have done a great job keeping current and former recipients engaged and growing the leadership base,” she said. “With many of the other AWESOME Scholars being in undergrad, I’ve been able to do a lot of mentoring/advising, and that is something I’m truly passionate about.”
These alumnae also shared advice for the next generation of women in supply chain to step up and do their best — and how being a Spartan provides an advantage.
“As a woman in supply chain, never let your curiosity and desire to lead be silenced,” Peterson said. “Michigan State’s supply chain program will give you the tools you need to be successful, but it is up to you to deploy those tools in a meaningful way.”
“It’s also about your Spartan leadership and living out those core values every day that you learn and grow over your time at Broad — things like teamwork, respect, ethics and being a transformational leader,” DiPietro added. “The impact that you make on others carries with you, more than any business metric, and will define you as you go through your career as a Spartan.”