Charlotte de Brabandt on Women and Global Supply Chain

At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we know the importance of elevating the voices of the female trailblazers who are boldly changing the face of our community. That’s why every month we highlight a woman leader in the industry on our blog. We share their stories, achievements and advice for other women coming up the ranks in supply chain.

This month we’re proud to feature Charlotte de Brabandt in our Women In Supply Chain™ blog series. Charlotte is the Content Creation Manager Procurement Citizenship COE: Global Communication Lead for a Fortune 500 company. She is a keynote speaker and a member of the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Thought Leadership Council. Charlotte has a decade of experience in supply chain. She’s been recognized over recent years as the Rising Supply Chain Star and hailed as a 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Star.

What makes your supply chain journey global?

I have worked in five industries and three continents with the ability to experience supply chain from a global point of view. Supply chain is still an untouched territory of the future developments. Everyone is talking about blockchain, digital technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), humanoid robots and autonomous intelligent systems.

There is a great future in the field of supply chain management and how we will interact with the new technologies and innovations ahead of us. I strongly believe IoT (Internet of Things) will drastically change the future of supply chain. Gartner predicts, that by 2020 more than half of major business processes will incorporate some form of IoT. This is going to take the supply chain industry to a whole new level.

How can women show up for themselves and their female counterparts in supply chain?

Be patient—trust in yourself. You cannot climb a mountain with your hands in your pockets. Surround yourself with positive people. Never give up, remember that it’s O.K. to fail. Stay authentic with open communication, especially with other women.

Part of leadership is giving back to build a team that believes what you believe. Nurture each other. Support each other through recognition and reward—saying if the job has been done well. Educate yourself and your team—success is achieved through passion and on-the-job learning with your team.

And be proactive, continue sharpening the “saw” to continue enthusiasm.

What advice do you have for someone looking for a career change?

My advice is focus on passion and proactiveness. Two main factors that are helpful is being passionate about your work and what you do and being proactive and ambitious in solving problems. This helps to learn how to combat difficult challenges. It’s important to reach out to all stakeholders involved to solicit information rather than just waiting or it.

Continuing to learn and adapt to new technologies is also very important. We live in a world where we cannot only study a topic and assume that knowledge will be enough for the next twenty years. It’s important to constantly want to learn more. You can have a real impact in the lives of others. And businesses can create a global impact.

Become an early adopter, recognize new trends and be open to the latest technologies that can play an important role in the future.

And surround yourself with people who push you to do more and be better. Keep setting your goals higher and higher. Good times and positive energy bring out the absolute best in everyone.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in supply chain?

I agree with Gartner’s stance. While gender representation for entry-level and middle-management roles is relatively balanced, the precipitous drop in women at senior-leadership levels cannot be attributed to any one single event. Organizational strategies to improve the proportion of women in leadership should thus reflect the numerous obstacles that hinder women’s career progression toward leadership roles.

HR and D&I leaders can improve the recruitment, selection, retention and promotion of women in leadership. They can do so by identifying where organization values and offerings diverge from female leaders’ preferences and expectations. They should also be auditing talent life cycle processes, including promotion and succession, to assess inclusiveness and potential bias.

What steps can we take to increase diversity in the supply chain?

Firstly, set up women employee groups to promote diversity awareness within the enterprise. This will create a perception of an inclusive culture.

Secondly, set up diversity trainings, mentoring programs and networking opportunities during or outside of work hours. For example, the Global Mentoring Program for High- Potential Women (Unilever).

Unilever leverages a combination of formal programs to prepare high-potential female leaders for the next level of their careers. In addition to an accelerated IDP program and a formal HIPO program, Unilever established a Global Mentoring Program that matches each high-potential female leader with one of Unilever’s top senior leaders. The program aims to foster successful mentoring relationships and focus on individual development goals to increase process transparency, accelerate female leaders’ development and drive gender diversity at senior levels of the organization.

Rather than relying on mentors to define the scope of their role with mentees, Unilever sets expectations through a global launch event and two mentoring training webinars. To ensure successful mentoring sessions, Unilever provides mentors and mentees with sample activities—including goal setting, mentor guidance and mentee reflection—that help them make the most of their time together. These activities are designed to help mentors and mentees build rapport, establish trust and engage in successful development planning.

Thirdly make sure the hiring committee includes women. It’s critical to have a comprehensive strategy to better attract, retain and promote women.

What’s next?

I want to be a supply chain ambassador by becoming an inspirational leader, speaker and coach for the younger generations. Since I am also a public speaker, I would like to guide and set an example for future generations.

I reference that by 2050, 60% of global professions won’t exist anymore and will be replaced by new ones. Looking to the future, I see myself growing in the supply chain industry. I would like to stay in corporate and grow into a director or VP role. I will also expand in the field of keynote and public speaking for supply chain.

Meet Our Sponsor – HULFT

This Women In Supply Chain™ feature was made possible by our sponsor, HULFT. HULFT provides a single global platform that allows IT to find, secure, transform and move information at scale. HULFT’s seasoned data logistics consultants uncover hidden pain points, automate tedious manual operations, and streamline data flow worldwide. For 25 years, HULFT has helped more than 10,000 customers automate, orchestrate and accelerate their global data logistics, making it easier on IT and putting data to work for the enterprise. Learn more at

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