There’s no denying it—female supply chain leaders empower diversity, innovation, and transformation to propel purposeful, intelligent moves to build back a smarter, more resilient supply chain. And at Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we understand that women achieve more when we are empowering each other. That’s why each month we’re proud to highlight the woman supply chain leaders who are trailblazing with deliberate, strategic moves and igniting change for good to reimagine supply chain—forever.
In our Women in Supply Chain series, you meet both the seasoned and emerging female thought leaders you need to know about now and learn how they’re changing the chain. Let’s Talk Supply Chain explores the challenges they’ve faced, their risks and achievements, and the path that brought them where they are now, leading organizations across the global supply chain. These women supply chain leaders share what it takes to break out of gender roles in their professions to smash glass ceilings across the chain.
Keep reading for inspiring stories, career advice, and expert guidance on breaking out in the chain.
This month we’re proud to highlight Katy Pickett, a regional vice president for Fastenal Company, a business-to-business supply chain solutions organization and construction and industrial supply wholesale distributor. Katy has nearly two decades of supply chain experience and bachelor’s degree in Business Finance and Management from Indiana University South Bend.
1. How did you land a career in supply chain?
In 2002, when I was a college junior I started with Fastenal—looking for a finance-tailored internship to bolster my resume. The company fit my basic search criteria for internships… business-related and paid. So, I joined the Blue Team, and what started as a summer internship grew into an almost-19-year career. When my internship wrapped up at the end of the summer, I had an offer to stay on as a part-time support team member. Then, early in 2003, I was promoted to assistant general manager at our Mishawaka, Indiana location.
I was a senior in college with a full-time course load—juggling both a full-time potential career along with a part-time, weekend job at Applebee’s. Being detail-orientated, organized, and laser-focused were mission-critical to maintain my rigorous schedule and my grades while thriving at Fastenal where I learned everything I could from business members. In December of 2003, that dedication and focus paid off when I accepted the role of general manager in Goshen, Indiana.
I ran the Goshen location for two and a half years, expanding our business in the market and earning the top-performing location award. My proven leadership and success propelled me to the district manager position, a role I supported with pride for 13 years before landing my current role, vice president of the Lake Michigan region in January of 2019.
2. What has your experience been as a woman in a male-dominated industry?
This one is challenging for me because my experience has been like those around me. Yes, I’ve had the occasional customer make a disparaging remark regarding my sex, and I would fire right back. I was determined that I wouldn’t let that affect me.
And a lot of that comes down to the support system of leaders I had at Fasten. I’ve been fortunate to work with an incredible leadership team since starting with the company. My managers recognized my inner drive and tailored their coaching to motivate and push me forward. I am the first female regional vice president for Fastenal, and I take pride in my achievements because what motivates me is that I’m creating that opportunity for the next generation.
3. Many women struggle to advance because they can’t find a mentor. Have you had a supply chain mentor and how did they help empower growth in your career?
Yes, Randy Miller, now a regional vice president at Fastenal played a vital role in my development as an individual and a leader there. With over three decades at Fastenal, Randy knew the organization and industry culture and trends. He challenged me whenever necessary, guided me when applicable, and has supported me throughout my career. His mentoring helped me dial in my leadership style. I am grateful for Randy’s influence and guidance over the years.
4. What traits do you most admire in others?
I admire any individual who has worked from the ground floor up, showing their inner strength and grit to achieve success. Those are the people—and the stories—that inspire me most and the ones I relate to with my history in supply chain.
5. How did you find your path to supply chain?
I learned at a young age that my path was mine to create through my decisions. We live and learn from our mistakes and triumphs, and while we can learn from others, nothing replaces personal experience. I don’t believe I “found” my voice or path, instead, I had to discover and build confidence in the value I offer. Early in my career, I realized that I could bring value, even in a male-dominated industry. It was up to me to make my voice heard.
6. What advice do you have for up-and-coming leaders looking to break into the supply chain?
There is no substitute for plain hard work. The journey will be challenging, you will face adversity and setbacks—learn from these. Be knowledgeable, be resilient, and have a plan. You can achieve anything you set your mind to with grit and dedication.
Use your voice; you have valuable insight and ideas, share them. Be confident in yourself, and ready to evolve and change with your business goals and environment. Any goal you want to achieve is possible with dedication, hard work, and yes, sometimes a little bit of luck.
7. What’s your next big goal in supply chain?
Over the past two decades, I’ve grown and continued learning from everyone around me. Each great Fastenal story starts with a phenomenal person. These are the people who have shaped me into the person I am today.
My next goal is sharing my story and striving to be a mentor and motivator—helping to develop more up-and-coming and impactful leaders at Fastenal. The most important lesson I’ve learned is to trust the team I’ve built around me. When you have the right people in the right positions, anything is possible. I’m positive my future is going to be full of surprises, achievements, and even the occasional setbacks that will drive my continuing career with Fastenal.
Meet Our Sponsor
This Women in Supply Chain feature was made possible by our sponsor, Fastenal. As a company focused on empowering supply chain partnerships, Fastenal is proud to sponsor Women in Supply Chain. With more than 100,000 point-of-use vending machines around the world, Fastenal is dedicated to helping organizations lower their total cost of ownership. Learn more here.
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.