Christine Scalese on Women Juggling and Paying It Forward in Supply Chain

A new year has been ushered in along with continued supply chain disruption amidst major climate catastrophes, supply chain shortages, and gaps and delays resulting from a global surge unlike any other since the start of the pandemic. If we’re learning anything about our new normal, it’s that it’s anything but. Women supply chain leaders are finding new solutions and new approaches powered by collaboration, diversity, and thriving through the unexpected. These female leaders are committed to building back a smarter and more resilient supply chain. At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we know the value of women tapping into our collective power to promote greater visibility in the community and shape a more diverse, accepting industry and professional landscape. 

When women and their advocates rally behind each other more is possible—opening new doors and breaking out of status quos and dated gender roles. At Let’s Talk Supply Chain we’re dedicated to bringing more visibility to women making an impact in supply chain. We’re honored to feature the female trailblazers in supply chain and their valiant moves forward to a more inclusive and resilient supply chain community.

In our Women in Supply Chain series, Let’s Talk Supply Chain introduces the women dominating supply chain right now and what they’re planning next. They share what and who inspires them and navigate bringing positive change to their organizations, industry, and community. Let’s Talk Supply Chain highlights the obstacles women leaders in supply chain have conquered, their brightest leaps of faith, and the beginnings that brought them where they are today, leading organizations across the global supply chain. 

In Let’s Talk Supply Chain’s Women in Supply Chain series, women share their experience smashing glass ceilings and gender roles across the chain. They share powerful career advice and what they want future leaders to know when they get their start in supply chain. Read on for motivational stories, career advice, and expert insights into breaking into the chain.

This month we’re proud to highlight Christine Scalese, Vice President of Operations at Tacori, a luxury designer jeweler known for its handcrafted designs and engagement rings. For nearly two decades, Christine has helped a host of Fortune 500s across industries optimize business operations and supply chain strategies. She’s known for her strength in inventory management and demand planning. Christine is Six-Sigma-Blackbelt certified for continuous improvement methodology and end-to-end customer facing supply chain operations. She has a bachelors in business and supply chain management from the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.

  1. How did your supply chain journey start?

My journey started at Michigan State when I was accepted into the Broad School of Business Supply Chain Management Program. I had heard it would be a competitive landscape, and that MSU had one of the top programs in the country, so I was excited to embark on what would become my career path. 

While in college I had the opportunity to work for and be recruited directly out of school by Johnson & Johnson, where I spent a decade of my career. From there I have worked with some of the most well-known brands in the world, across several different industries, (consumer, entertainment, healthcare, luxury, etc.)

  1. How did you find your voice as a supply chain professional?

I laugh because I think most people would tell you I have never hand any trouble finding my voice. There wasn’t a single moment when everything came together for me, but there have definitely been moments when I’ve felt as if I have really come into my own in this field. The culmination of working in different industries for multiple companies has given me the opportunity to continuously call on past experiences and apply them now.

I’m excited that I’m challenging myself to think and develop skills and best practices beyond my past experience. I’m more comfortable than ever embracing the unknown. I think that was a real catharsis for me, when I really began trusting that I had the knowledge, experience, and passion to solve any challenge.

  1. Speaking of challenges, have you faced any in a male-dominated industry?

You know, not until the past few years have I contemplated what it means to be a woman in this industry and what an accomplishment that truly is. I guess I’ve always had the mindset that my performance would speak for itself, and my gender wasn’t what would define my success.

However, it became more and more apparent to me as I moved up to executive levels at companies, that the number of women present in my meetings, my negotiations, my strategy sessions—all were dwindling. It made me step back and realize though yes, I want everyone to be judged solely on their merits. It was still obvious that I needed to be an advocate for those women by mentoring, supporting, and encouraging them to blaze their own path in this field.

I am also really happy to say that I’ve been fortunate to have men throughout my career who saw my potential and were extremely supportive of my growth and development. Men who saw the importance of my presence and the value of a diverse group of talent.

  1. How critical is it to bring more diversity to the chain?

Moving forward, it’s going to be so important that we are actively looking at professionals in the supply chain field for their performance and potential. We need to keep consciously looking for ways to contribute to diversifying this field even further through mentorship, recruiting, and featuring stories about these talented groups of individuals—just like Women in Supply Chain does. Visibility and representation matter.

  1. Tell us more about the support you’ve had along your supply chain journey. Did you have any mentors?

Yes, and they’ve definitely varied based on the season of my career. Each mentor played an important role for the stage I was developing at and I’m so grateful that in their busy lives—both personally and professionally—they saw the potential in me and took time to nurture it. They went above and beyond providing guidance on how to approach my career. They set such fantastic examples for what I wanted to be known for as a leader. Now I have the privilege of mentoring others. I am often reminded of my mentors, and pass down the guidance and advice they bestowed to me.

  1. Who has inspired you in supply chain?

For me, it’s not really about who I admire, but what I admire. I deeply admire and respect the women who are doing it all. Juggling family, personal commitments, and their careers, all while getting that workout in early, looking flawlessly put-together, and ready and able to tell you about their take on current events. And these aren’t women trying to give you the perception that they have it all figured out. They’re women who are putting the effort in and getting it done. How can you not admire that?

  1. What have you learned about yourself as a leader on your supply chain journey?

This is the area I love to talk about. I will always be a strong believer in reflection and lessons learned. I learned that no one will own your career like you will. Yes, go out there and connect, develop mentorship relationships, etc. But remember, you’re going to need to be your strongest advocate. Your future is too precious and important to leave in anyone’s hands but your own.

I’ve learned that title and upward mobility does not define our success in this industry. I’ve also learned that you will never get ahead if you don’t put in the work at the level your at right now. It’s important to be looking forward to where you want to go in your career, but when the opportunity presents itself, you want to be able to show that you are ready for the next level. Nothing says that better than being a rockstar in your current role.

Most recently, I’ve learned you are an example to your people, and your actions and your words have more impact than you think. 

As a self- professed workaholic, I used to tell myself that I could have a different standard for myself than for my team. But as I worked 10-hour days, I saw my best people start to follow in my footsteps. And when I was sending emails on Sundays, the responses from my team members started to show up within minutes, when before I wouldn’t receive them until Monday. And you can tell them ‘do as I say, not as I do’ as much as you want. At the end of the day, if they see you as successful, they will follow your example. So I’ve made a deliberate effort to pull back from that.

Not for me, but for them. I’m hoping this next phase of my career is focused on things like this—being hyper aware and making a strong effort at my level to make a positive impact in my colleagues lives.

  1. What advice do you have for women looking to break into or move up in supply chain?

Be bold and tenacious. This career field is not for the faint of heart. In Supply Chain, you aren’t the center of attention. You’re in it because you have a sense of commitment to seeing your company and the people you work for and with succeed, and you inherently know just how important and vital your role is to an organization. 

Most of us women know we are problem solvers and multitaskers to the core. It’s going to take women like us to continue to carve our place in this industry, to not only hold our representation, but to grow it. And as a woman, know if you come into supply chain as a field, someday you too are going to be called upon to mentor others. I consider it a privilege and I’m so glad I made the choice to be part of the growing changes in the Supply Chain world.

  1. What does it mean to you to be featured in Women In Supply Chain?

Learning that I was going to be featured in the Women in Supply Chain series was an incredible feeling. It is so rewarding to see that women are being recognized for their very important seat at the table. The leaders Let’s Talk Supply Chain have featured are an outstanding group of individuals doing truly impactful things, at at time in the world when Supply Chain is center stage. I am truly honored to be recognized among these women.

This Women in Supply Chain feature was made possible by our sponsor, Emerge. As a company focused on empowering and growing meaningful supply chain relationships, Emerge is proud to sponsor Women in Supply Chain. Through its freight procurement platform, Emerge offers solutions that enhance the spot and contract procurement process, enabling shippers and carriers to make more strategic decisions. Learn more about Emerge here.

About The Author:

Let's Talk Supply Chain Christine Scalese on Women Juggling and Paying It Forward in Supply Chain 1Naomi 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.

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