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Investing in the next generation of female supply chain leaders

By Haley Tran, student writer
Monday, November 14, 2022

In October, three undergraduate supply chain management students from the Broad College of Business attended the fourth annual Women Impacting Supply Chain Excellence (WISE) Future Leaders Symposium alongside more than 100 students and faculty from 24 universities.

Hosted by the University of Arkansas, the two-day symposium celebrates women in supply chain and legends who have paved the way for the next generation of leaders. Students selected to attend are exemplary leaders in the supply chain management major across the United States and get the chance to grow their network at this event.

“The symposium gathered like-minded female students from various supply chain management programs to network and hear from some of the best female leaders in the field. These female pioneers showed students that they are capable of anything and that in the end, they can have it all — an impactful career and a healthy work-life balance,” Simone Peinkofer, assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, said.

“Through the symposium, our students were introduced to a firsthand learning experience and an expansive network of female supply chain students. Upon returning to campus, they were excited to tell their peers about this amazing opportunity and implement what they have learned in their own career paths.”

Peinkofer has been the Broad faculty adviser for the event since it began in 2019. Each year, through a nomination process, she recruits top students in supply chain; this year, she selected seniors Marina Ackerman and Kelsey McNally and junior Sarah Arvan. Factors considered were GPA, leadership experience, on-campus involvement and motivation for attending the symposium.

Ackerman, a supply chain peer coach at the Russell Palmer Career Management Center, enjoyed hearing from all the speakers but especially from Lakesha Jolly, a Broad alumna and senior director at Walmart. She left feeling inspired by Jolly’s quote, “Drive for solid metrics in your work, as they show no bias in success.”

“Lakesha talked about how having a mentor and sponsor had boosted her career. Mentorship and coaching are crucial to anyone’s career progression, and as a peer coach, I strive to provide the same for my fellow Broad Spartans,” Ackerman said. “The symposium drew our attention to the significance of diversity and differing perspectives in the workplace and how allyship can be established in a professional environment.”

The event was also eye-opening for Ackerman. “I networked with two students from South Carolina who were the only two women in supply chain at their entire school,” she said. “Connecting with women from different institutions and hearing about their academic and professional experience helped me appreciate all the opportunities that are available to Broad supply chain students regardless of our identities and backgrounds.”

Like Ackerman, Arvan was impressed with the symposium’s panelists as well as hearing how others have found mentors and strengthened their personal and professional relationships in their careers.

“The best part of the symposium was hearing from all the panelists and seeing how interconnected many companies are. The event was centered around diversity, inclusion and female empowerment, so every speaker touched on what it was like to navigate today’s workplace and work in leadership positions as women,” she said. “Kelsey, Marina and I had such a wonderful time networking with industry professionals and fellow supply chain students. It was fascinating to see their diverse backgrounds and areas of interest and how the symposium brought together these talented women all in one place.”

The event was centered around diversity, inclusion and female empowerment, so every speaker touched on what it was like to navigate today’s workplace and work in leadership positions as women.
Sarah Arvan

Here at Broad, both Arvan and McNally are members of the Supply Chain Management Association, a student organization dedicated to providing students with learning experiences and development beyond the classroom. Now, they’re equipped to bring the energy from the symposium back to MSU to make a difference for their peers in the No. 1 ranked supply chain management program.

“Through listening to these accomplished women [at the symposium], I gained more insights into the reality of being a woman in the supply chain industry,” McNally said. “They gave us strategies to succeed as aspiring female leaders with mentorship and company resources. The three of us left the symposium feeling empowered and motivated to be part of the change we want to see in the workplace.

“I felt incredibly honored and lucky to meet other passionate young women in supply chain and be a part of this community,” McNally continued. “All these young women are leaders on their campuses, and attending the symposium gave me this network of strong women that I can continue to communicate with throughout my career.”

All three students were proud to represent MSU and the Broad College at the event and said they would recommend this opportunity to any of their female peers.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity because I wouldn’t have been able to attend the symposium without support from the supply chain department,” Ackerman said. “Beyond that, the program offers many other professional development opportunities and an uplifting and connected student community.”

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