At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we know the value of elevating the voices of the female trailblazers who are fearlessly changing the face of our community. That’s why every month we feature a woman leader in supply chain on our blog. We share their stories, achievements and advice for other women coming up the ranks in supply chain.
And this month, Women’s History Month, we’re proud to feature Christina Christensen in our Women in Supply Chain blog series. Christina is a senior manager in industry and solutions marketing at Kinaxis, a supply chain technology organization supporting businesses in increasing ROI and revenue while mitigating risk. She has almost two decades in marketing and supply chain experience—including brands like SAP and JDA, now Blue Yonder. Christina has a Bachelors in both Strategic Communications and Psychology.
- What brought you into marketing for supply chain?
Almost a decade of experience at one of the largest ERP software giants groomed me for my foray into supply chain marketing. As I grew in my professional career, I was also building a life—marriage, babies, all the milestones I curated in support of my personal goals. Then there came a point when I needed to pause and spend more time honoring that life.
So, I made the decision to break away from my career for a year. I stayed home with our first daughter while leading marketing for a local nonprofit for homeless youth, Hope 4 Youth, a philanthropic undertaking I’d always envisioned.
It didn’t take long to realize I could achieve both my professional and personal ambitions. I also missed corporate life and gained a sharpened perspective while away. What I‘d been doing in my career was emphatically transforming lives—everywhere.
The break-through innovations in technology delivered around the globe also serves a higher purpose, and I wanted back in on the action. Then the opportunity to work for a supply chain-focused software company knocked on my door, and that foray has turned into a lasting and fulfilling career in supply chain marketing.
- What makes product marketing for supply chain technology important?
Our customers face challenging, complex, and sometimes chaotic issues. As a supply chain marketer, you must intrinsically understand their problems—sometimes even before they do—and articulate a clear and differentiated solution. You don’t want decision-makers paralyzed by concerns. Instead, with the right technology in place, we empower supply chain leaders to quickly adjust to real-world supply and demand drivers and make fast, informed decisions for people, planet and profitability.
I strive to be a trusted and informed resource, bringing relevant and timely messaging to customers to position their organizations as leaders in their respective fields and the industry at large. Product, industry, solution, and services marketing contextualizes technology in a way that resonates with the customer and their journey to success. That success is at the heart of the storyline, and the purpose for everything I do.
- What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career?
I’ve been fortunate to grow with employers that always supported advancement, diversity, and most importantly, work-life balance. I’ve operated successfully in a remote work environment (in theory) with the built-in flexibility to maintain a healthy life outside of “work.”
The biggest challenges were self-imposed—when I didn’t grant myself that same grace and felt I needed to constantly prove my worth by never saying “no.” Finding time to make sure I was succeeding in all my passions (work and home) was a challenge, especially since my husband also keeps demanding hours and spends a lot of time on the road.
What makes it possible is our mutual respect for one another’s goals, aspirations and in equal measure we balance out a busy but rewarding life for our entire family.
- How does success as a woman in supply chain look to you?
Success is not typecasting yourself or giving way to a self-fulfilling prophecy caused by how you think others perceive you by your sex, gender, age or appearance. Success is knowing you deserve that seat at the table and owning it. I am fortunate that the culture at Kinaxis in one that empowers and elevates women, making this success even more achievable.
I view a woman breaking through in supply chain as talented and confident with a relentless ambition to ascend, no matter who’s in the room.
- What advice do you have for breaking into supply chain marketing?
Be mindful of all the things around you that are impacted by supply chain—you’ll easily find that almost everything you touch, wear or consume is made available to you because of the software that mobilizes supply and demand planning.
It never sounds cool to answer, “what do you do?” with “supply chain marketing.” But, the minute you explain what your organization does to help make the world run, especially in times of crisis, the relevancy sinks in and the interest is immediate.
- How has disruption in supply chain changed your strategy as a marketer?
Like supply chain solutions, I must be proactive and agile. Continuing unpredictability and disruption, via economic or social swings, regulatory changes, natural disasters, or viral outbreaks like the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic demands more agility.
Speed is mandatory for companies that rely on manufacturers to react fast with global visibility to operate proactively. That means focusing on staying current on what’s happening in the world around us as marketers and serving as that trusted, educated resource for our customers.
- We just celebrated International Women’s Day—is there a woman leader who inspires you?
One of the women leaders I’ve looked up to my entire career started as a peer of mine. I still covet her as one of my best friends. She always pushed me, made me see my value, and challenged me far beyond my comfort zone at an early age.
When we were two young females in a predominately male industry, she rapidly ascended because she made no excuses. She always exuded confidence and empathetically encouraged me to do the same.
- What does your future look like?
With the disruption we are currently seeing with COVID-19, advancements in supply chain are making it possible to keep critical medications and staples of our daily lives available—which also means restoring hope and confidence to communities and business leaders around the world. In times like these, the importance of supply chain becomes real and deeply visible—our industry saves lives.
Because of this I see my long-term future right here in the supply chain space. My hope is that my future, and the future of this planet, is benefited by the power to more proactively respond to and navigate through inevitable volatility. I am optimistic this is very possible with smart planning, monitoring, and response tactics in place.
I will continue working hard to empower customers to transform their businesses far beyond what they think is possible. I have a passion for the professional services side of the business, because it combines my love for people and process. I will keep driving organizations to leverage these resources for a sound strategy upfront and follow through with strong change management to maximize software utilization (and make their employees happy). This all ultimately leads to more efficiently and effectively serving the world’s well-being.
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About the Author:
Naomi Garnice is the Director of Marketing for MicroAge where she leads the marketing team and creative strategy. Naomi has been a content marketer for 14 years and is passionate about creating engaging content that matters. Throughout her career in marketing for technology, healthcare and supply chain organizations, Naomi has advocated to highlight female thought leaders in male-dominated industries.