Women In The Supply Chain: The Power Of Networks

Priya Wenzel

Two nodes in a network make a single connection. Five nodes yield 10 connections – a little better. But add only two more nodes and you get 66 links. Make it 1,000 nodes and you realize 499,500.

That’s the power of networks as described by Metcalfe’s Law. It’s a phenomenon we see in our supply chains every day.

It’s also a dynamic we can achieve through networks of people. That fact was on display in early November at the Supply Chain Women’s Network Lunch Reception, a networking event during the International SAP Conference on Extended Supply Chain Management in the Netherlands. And it’s a strategy that manufacturers, logistics providers, and others must leverage – if they hope to attract and develop the women who will be an absolute necessity to supply chains in the digital economy.

Always connected

Today’s supply chains require a greater number of female professionals. If women don’t enter and remain in supply chain careers, there simply won’t be enough qualified people to meet demand for talent.

And there are good reasons for women to pursue and advance in supply chain careers. Manufacturing and the supply chain offer women opportunities to work in interesting and challenging areas: the Internet of Things (IoT), mobility, Big Data, and 3D printing, to name a few. These areas of business are evolving rapidly – and are fundamental to the digital economy.

Just as the extended supply chain leverages digital connections, female supply chain specialists must leverage professional connections. It’s imperative that women both join networks and actively support the growth of women to leadership positions. If we want to see positive change in this area, then it’s critical that we be engaged, supportive, and visible as innovators and leaders.

Professional networks allow us to link with relevant people and relevant information. They create opportunities for learning and career growth. Women who participate in professional networks report that networking energizes them and opens them to new ideas and possibilities.

From opportunity to success

The good news is that smart organizations are implementing programs, from professional networks to leadership development, to recruit and develop women in the supply chain.

SAP, for example, has implemented the Women in Supply Chain Network. This is a global forum to empower women to connect, share ideas and opportunities, collaborate, and support their professional growth. The network operates internships, sponsorships, fellowships, coaching, and events to attract women to supply chain careers and support their advancement to leadership roles. The group runs numerous other women-specific initiatives, such as the Global Business Women’s Network (BWN), an employee-driven consortium with 32 chapters and 8,000 members around the world. Other programs include the Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program (LEAP), which prepares women for leadership roles, and the Women’s Professional Growth webinar series, which has reached 6,800 employees in 43 countries and is being extended to customers and partners.

At the Supply Chain Women’s Network Lunch, Monic van Aarle, sector director of supply chain management for SAP Netherlands, spoke about women’s unique role in the supply chain. She pointed out that women have shown particular aptitude for developing supply chain strategy, with an emphasis on preventing fires rather than fighting them.

In a digital economy in which business runs in real time and predictive analytics are a competitive necessity, such a forward-looking stance will be crucial to success. Fortunately, there has never been a better time for female professionals — and their prospective employers — to embrace the opportunities of women in the supply chain.

Learn more about how running a live supply chain can help you thrive today and innovate for tomorrow, visit us at SAP.com.

Priya Wenzel

About Priya Wenzel

Priya Wenzel is the Global Head of Channel Management for Extended Supply Chain solutions. In this role, she is responsible for the partner and multi-channel go to market solution strategy. Priya has over twenty years of experience in enterprise software, specializing in consulting services, new product innovation and business development.