Supply chain enthusiast and production planner Abby Baird shares how wanted to make a positive impact for others led her to a career in supply chain.

Abby Baird on Supply Chain as a Force for Positive Change

2024 is flying—Q2 is here. It’s been a wild ride already, navigating continued inflation and escalating geopolitical tensions while keeping track of the latest global partnerships and mergers rocking market dynamics. Sound familiar? The global economy has been through a battery of shocks since we’ve made it to the other side of the Covid pandemic.

The continuing conflict in Gaza with dire humanitarian implications is an ongoing supply chain disruptor and rising economic threat. Historically, wars around the globe have spiked oil prices, accelerating costs and challenges across the chain. In fact, oil prices jumped 100% during the Kuwait invasion, 20% during the Iran-Iraq war, and 30% during the civil war in Libya. Oil prices have already reached a fever pitch, and the continuing death toll in Gaza could provoke another uprising by local citizens like the damaging oil embargo of 1973—an act of defiance by Arabs to the oil producers.

With all this in mind, supply chain challenges aren’t going anywhere. On a positive note: the number of female logistics and operations professionals ready to solve challenges continues to grow. That’s important, because as we already know, organizations that employ more women across leadership roles outrank competitors in profitability and customer satisfaction, in large part due to their ability to bring actionable insights and new approaches to respond to market dynamics.

Diversity in thought is powerful. That’s one of the many reasons why at Let’s Talk Supply Chain we’re humbled to feature Women In Supply Chain™ who are redefining their roles across logistics and manufacturing. The numbers show Women In Supply Chain™ drive stronger moves forward—sooner.

Women In Supply Chain™ inspire all of us. These emerging influencers and tenured leaders unleash some much-needed optimism that we can continue finding innovative approaches to conquer the latest logistics and Ops challenges, or at the very least, roll with the punches. At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we hope our Women In Supply Chain™ blog series motivates you to ascend beyond gender norms to make a meaningful impact.

Let’s Talk Supply Chain’s Women In Supply Chain™ program, and our blog and podcast series share the value of investing in your female workforce.

This month, we’re excited to feature Abbie Baird, Production Planner at Ferrara, and our very own marketing consultant at LTSC. Abby boasts a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas and a business degree in Supply Chain Management, Business Administration and Management. She started her supply chain journey in 2019 and since then has been building her arsenal of experience across supply chain marketing, category management, supply, and production planning.

1. Where did your supply chain journey start?

I was a toddler who wanted to be responsible for making sure things were where they needed to be when they needed to be. I did not have the language, but I have always wanted to be in the Supply Chain Industry. I lost sight of that purpose, but in college I had a professor encourage me towards this path. I wanted a career where I did something different every day, not sitting at a desk doing mundane work. I wanted opportunities to contribute in a real way and connect with people.

Since then, I have invested in the SCM community through a variety of organizations empowering Women In Supply Chain™. Through a variety of roles, I have found myself in the manufacturing space working with the people who make our products, the heart of our industry. It’s been a journey of building new relationships and professional alliances, learning the industry, and being open to new opportunities.

2. Have mentors supported your professional growth in supply chain?

Yes, and fortunately I have had many. My mentors helped and continue to support me in understanding new areas and concepts. They reassure me amidst uncertainty and empower me towards my goals. It is because of mentors I was able to step into my power and realize I have professional and personal value to offer.

3. What’s your experience working in a male-dominated industry?

Fortunately, overall positive but I’m cognizant of the continued gender gap. I work in a manufacturing space where each room I walk into is filled with men. I have seen and experienced men undermining my values and professional opinion; waiting until it comes from my male co-worker to believe, value, and process the information.

These experiences have led me to be mindful of the demographic of each room and meeting, so I can be a champion of inclusion and diversity (not just for women) and represent myself with strength and bravery. I act authentically which for me is feminine, along with being outgoing and assertive.

For a while, I was jaded about men in the industry, however; I have had healing experiences. Male colleagues and leaders have and encouraged and supported me in reaching my goals and finding my professional purpose. I am proud to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.

4. When did you find your voice in your supply chain career?

I have always been an outspoken gal. It was when I read Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates that I fully understood the intersection of supply chain and mission. I always knew I wanted to tap into supply chain to make the world a better place, but reading this book connected my professional and personal experiences.

5. What advice do you have for Women In Supply Chain™ and others looking to start a career in the industry?

Stop telling yourself “no”. Release yourself from the fear of making mistakes or losing approval from others. Fear is very limiting and can control your professional life—don’t let it. Surround yourself with others you can learn from and be authentic and vulnerable professionally and personally. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable in professional settings. Supply chain, like most industries, is all about connection and that starts in your working relationships.

6. Who do you admire in and outside of the supply chain?

I have tremendous respect and admiration for Mariela Poveda. Not only is she the only female Operations Manager here at Ferrara. Ann Drake inspires me by boldly and unapologetically championing women and opening new doors for them. I also admire Stephanie Thomas and how she has driven momentum and allowed for evolution in her career through commitment and an ever-growing network.

7. What have you learned on your supply chain journey so far and what’s next?

I have learned that I need a vessel of creativity and connection. I love the strategic work I get to do, but dynamic work is important for my professional fulfillment. The future holds working towards mission-oriented work, using supply chain professionals, and empowering women through it all.

As my journey continues, I hope to see more women break into manufacturing leadership roles. There are still too many excuses in the space limiting women and their ability to succeed. I want to build a career with a mission, finding purpose in my work and using it to positively impact the world.

Most of all, I hope to work with others to harness supply chain to move the needle for women and their socioeconomic status. We in the chain can take real steps in combating poverty—I want to be part of that.

8. What does your Women In Supply Chain™ feature mean to you?

Being featured means I am included among the ranks of strong, thoughtful, and impactful women. It is a privilege to be a part of Women In Supply Chain™ and represent the impact we are having in supply chains and the world. It also means I have the opportunity to champion Sarah and LTSC in empowering all under-represented groups in the supply chain, whole-heartedly.

 

Calling all Women In Supply Chain™!! There’s a new initiative that’s 100% geared towards serving YOU!

 

Women In Supply Chain™ is an online community with the sole purpose of providing women in our industry with consistent support and opportunities, all year long.

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Join a groundbreaking industry initiative that goes beyond networking. Women In Supply Chain™ is a diverse collective of professionals fostering growth, deep connections, and career development.

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  •  3-hour Introductory Call
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Investment:

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Take your future into your own hands & ask your company to add this to your professional development budget. Reach out to hello@secretsocietyofsupplychain.com for questions.

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Meet Our Sponsors

GoFreight is proud to sponsor the Women In Supply Chain™ blog and podcast series, recognizing women’s vital role in the industry and the need to highlight their contributions and experiences. We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the supply chain field and are honored to support initiatives that empower and inspire women in their professional journeys.

Food Logistics and Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s Women In Supply Chain™ award, sponsored by Let’s Talk Supply Chain podcast and Blended Pledge project, honors female supply chain leaders and executives whose accomplishments, mentorship, and examples set a foundation for women in all levels of a company’s supply chain network.

 

About the Author

Let's Talk Supply Chain Abby Baird on Supply Chain as a Force for Positive Change 1

Naomi Sylvian is a content marketing leader with more than 17 years of experience, and the editor of Let’s Talk Supply Chain™’s Women In Supply Chain™ series. Her works have appeared on Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider, The Muse, and Yahoo, and have been mentioned by The New York Times Online. Naomi mentors at-risk teens to fight recidivism and contribute on a local level, working with the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. Subscribe to her LinkedIn newsletter, The Chain Explained, for all things Supply Chain broken down with as many pop-culture references as possible, or view her marketing portfolio online.          

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