Supply chain management has historically been a male-dominated field. However, Broad College women are taking the initiative and going above and beyond to transform the rapidly advancing world of supply chain.
Take Courtney Palkowski, for example. She’s a supply chain management senior who has eagerly gotten involved with Women Impacting Supply Chain Excellence. Last year, Palkowski was chosen to represent MSU on the first-ever WISE Connections Advisory Board, which brings together representatives from several universities to collaborate on ideas and events that support all women in supply chain.
This year, she was selected to receive the International Supply Chain Education Alliance certification scholarship at the WISE Future Leaders Symposium. The event is highly sought after by female supply chain students from prestigious programs across the United States. Students who are selected to attend are invited to build a nationwide network of current and future female supply chain leaders.
“Sometimes the thought of entering the SCM field as a young woman can be intimidating, but there are so many accomplished and passionate female SCM leaders out there who can serve as great role models to young women pursuing SCM or thinking of entering the SCM field,” said Simone Peinkofer, assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, who has served as the event’s Broad faculty adviser for the past three years. “It is important for young women to know that there are ‘allies’ out there who love and are passionate about sharing their insights and expertise and supporting future and emerging female SCM leaders on their journey.”
Through the scholarship, Palkowski will be completing one of ISCEA’s programs to become a Certified Supply Chain Analyst. This certification signifies proficiency and expertise in the fundamentals of supply chain management, including knowledge of procurement, operations and logistics, along with related issues and tools. To become certified, analysts must attend 15 hours of classes and pass the required examination.
“Professionally, I hope to gain from the program the demonstration of my knowledge in the fundamentals of supply chain management and the ability to grow my network with other CSCA professionals,” Palkowski said. “As I head into my full-time job post-graduation this summer, I hope that having the CSCA designation will show my work team that I not only have the knowledge and skills to succeed, but that it will help boost me a little bit in my career and provide me more opportunities to take on challenging projects.”
As Palkowski takes on this endeavor, she also passes the torch to another Broad Spartan. Supply chain management junior Lauren Boufford is taking on Palkowski’s role as the newest member of the WISE advisory board, maintaining MSU’s presence.
“The objective of the advisory board is to promote connections, opportunity, diversity and inspiration among multiple member universities. It is interesting to learn about the board members’ successes and see all the different paths that can be pursued within the supply chain industry,” Boufford said. “The board has given me the opportunity to connect with well-established women in the industry and hear advice that they have learned over the course of their careers.”
Both Boufford and Palkowski attended the WISE Symposium this year. In addition, they collaborated to plan and host the first joint event between WISE and the MSU Supply Chain Management Association, of which Palkowski is president.
“It has been incredible to learn that we all face many of the same challenges, have similar career aspirations and want to work together to come up with events and activities with each other,” Palkowski said. “Lauren was fantastic in helping to coordinate the SCMA–WISE joint event, and she’ll have an amazing time being a part of the board. She is emerging as an inspiring woman in supply chain, and I hope she serves as an inspiration for more and more women in our program.”
Bufford is currently working on the advisory board’s social media team to create content for the WISE Instagram to celebrate International Women’s Day. And she’s looking forward to planning more opportunities for supply chain students from other universities to connect with Broad Spartans.
“When you are able to network with students from different universities, especially women networking with other women, it broadens your perception, challenges what you know and, most importantly, allows you to learn from one another. There are a lot of great opportunities and new ideas that I think could be brought here to Michigan State to help Broad students if we engage more with other top programs in the country,” Palkowski explained.
Students like Palkowski and Boufford are having a tremendous influence on peers who can relate to them and aspire to take meaningful action toward a strong, supportive community of supply chain professionals.
“Courtney and Lauren are two exceptional young women who love sharing their passion for SCM with others and who are striving to inspire and impact other young female SCM students,” Peinkofer said. “I think it is important that female SCM Broad Spartans have a voice and representation on the WISE Advisory Board in order to shape and influence other female SCM students from around the country.”
Boufford shared some encouraging advice to fellow Broad women in business: “Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and take credit for your work,” she said. “I would also stress the importance of forming a support group of those within the industry, ranging from friends in your classes that you can study with to a mentor you can go to for career advice. I have found having a strong support network to be extremely motivating, and I am grateful that the board has given me the change to expand upon my support network.”