Jacquelyn Howard on Being Bold and Finding Purpose in Supply Chain

As the global economy trickles back and the way organizations work is actively reimagined, Women in supply chain™ are fueling innovation and a more resilient path forward. These female leaders are building back—everything—smarter. At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we know the importance of women harnessing our collective power by supporting one another to shape a more accepting, inclusive industry and professional community.

Because when we rally behind one another, women make things happen—opening doors and breaking out of the status quo and dated gender roles. At Let’s Talk Supply Chain we’re committed to doing our part every month. We’re proud to feature the trailblazing women supply chain leaders and their bold moves to achieve a stronger more resilient supply chain and community.

In our Women in supply chain™ series we introduce the women who are dominating supply chain. We ask what and who motivates them and how they’re doing their part to create positive change in their organizations, industry, and community. Let’s Talk Supply Chain shares the obstacles these women have conquered, their big leaps of faith, and the beginnings that ultimately led them to where they are today, leading organizations across the global supply chain.

They share their experience breaking glass ceilings and gender roles across the chain, and what they want the next generation of supply chain leaders to know. Read on for inspiring stories, career advice, and expert guidance on breaking into the chain.

This month we’re proud to feature the Starbucks Vice President of Global Supply Chain Direct Sourcing, Jacquelyn Howard. Jacquelyn leads Starbucks’ end-to-end supply chain strategy for beverage ingredients, food packaging, and Siren Retail categories. Her leadership connects the Global Supply chain functions and the product, R&D, and retail operations teams. A Duke graduate and MBA, Jacquelyn boasts over two decades of global supply chain and procurement experience at global food and beverage titans and more than thirty years in total in corporate positions.

Jacquelyn currently serves as a board member for Seattle Goodwill Industries, the Intralox China Advisory Board, and the Intralox US Food Safety Board. She is a relentless advocate for the Seattle Arts and Museums and serves on the Capital Campaign Cabinet for the Seattle Girls’ School. She has been hailed with numerous recognitions for her leadership and work in supply chain, including most recently, The Top 100 Women in supply chain™ 2021.

How did your supply chain journey start?

A girl from Ohio who went to Duke to study biomedical engineering to become a surgeon proceeded to get her MBA from the University of Delaware and then continued to become a stronger business leader with every experience that followed. From working in Direct Sales and Marketing for Dupont’s Textile Fiber Division to going on to major food and beverage organizations like McDonald’s and Starbucks to make an impact by forging a more connected supply chain. I moved, traveled, lived abroad, hired, and mentored many on their way up while balancing work with family and life along the way.

How did you find your purpose?

I found purpose, standing up and speaking out on behalf of those who may not have the voice, social capital, or ability to do so. When it was easier but wrong to stay silent when things were being done without the lens of values and ethics, I found myself standing up to align values with business operations.

My professional why is leading teams of professionals accountable for building safer more ethical, and sustainable supply chains using change management strategies and metric-fueled approaches.

How would your colleagues describe you and what are you known for?

Agile, persuasive, imaginative, and always calm under pressure. I have a proven track record of delivering best-in-class processes, engaging teams, eliminating costs, and powering a go-to-market mindset to accelerate gross profits and results. Over my career, I’ve worked to rebuild supply chain teams and develop category expertise, bolstering retention rates and a commitment to sustainable succession planning.

What are some of your standout achievements?

At McDonald’s, my supply chain optimization strategies resulted in a collective benefit of over 150 million dollars in annual savings. I dedicated myself to a rigorous supplier performance measurement process, increased U.S. supply chain supplier diversity, and mentored several up-and-comers. In my current role as Vice President, Direct Sourcing – Global Supply Chain at Starbucks, I lead, optimize, develop, recommend, and innovate supply chain solutions for the direct sourcing business categories, develop talent, and ensure excellence in go-to-market execution—every step of the way.

What’s one surprising sourcing best practice you’ve learned?

As the Senior Director of Strategic Sourcing in the U.S. Supply Chain Management department for McDonald’s, it wasn’t unusual for an owner of a supplier company to meet with our U.S. president or chair of the board. Suppliers are that important. This was part of our three-legged approach with the legs being corporate staff, franchisees, and the supplier base. You need three strong, resilient legs to keep your business standing through disruption.

How have you helped businesses navigate disruption throughout your career?

In supply chain and sourcing we navigate disruption daily, we’ve been reminded of this over the last fourteen months. At Mcdonald’s in Asia, I lead my team in navigating three major business disruption crises and restored supply in record time while establishing better best practices for food safety and quality processes to protect the brand. At Starbucks, I continue in leading my team through the COVID-19 pandemic to a smarter, safer normal.

How have your mentors in supply chain helped along the way?

Being a woman in supply chain can be challenging, but I’ve succeeded by being courageous and at times embracing big, uncomfortable changes all with support from others in my professional sphere. I’ve had several mentors, coaches, and advisors. They’ve given me insight into my professional potential, removed blinders to help me become more self-aware, and shifted or sometimes removed obstacles and roadblocks. Their thoughts, advice, and care are notable and have been extremely helpful over the years.

I am inspired by Walgreens CEO, Roz Brewer for her fearless, brilliant, courageous, and empathetic leadership approach to everything on which she leaves her imprint. While her time at Starbucks was short, it was extremely material for my personal career development, our organizational culture enhancement, getting good work done, moving and leading through crisis, and identifying strong talent across all levels at the organization.

What advice do you have for future supply chain leaders?

Be bold. Have courage as someone needs you to speak your truth and show up as a role model. Be conscious of where you can make a difference and let that drive you—own your values and passions in and outside of the workplace.

Whether you’re dealing with product demand or a new concept, contingency plans are mission-critical to keeping a watchful eye out for pitfalls and proactively identifying alternative solutions whenever necessary.

And remember, you already awesome so dream really big. Be open to opportunities that come your way and where they can take you—your career doesn’t have to be linear.

What does it mean to you to be featured in Women in supply chain™?

It’s important not just for me, but for others who are reading to see the ability for women and people of color to be successful in supply chain and the variety of careers it encompasses.

What’s your next big move?

Right now I’m fully invested in leading the supply chain at Starbucks. But, no matter where my supply chain journey goes from here, I am where I’m supposed to be.  I can make a difference and lead from where I am—always.

Meet Our Sponsor

This Women in supply chain™ feature was made possible by our sponsor, Apex Logistics. Apex Logistics International Inc is deeply rooted in diversity and culture, led by our own “Woman in Supply Chain” CEO, Elsie Qian; these values are why we partnered with Let’s Talk Supply Chain for the Women in supply chain™ series. Apex is recognized as one of the fastest-growing Top 25 airfreight forwarders in the world, with a network of over 2500 global employees in more than 70 countries.

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.

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