Promoting yourself at work can be tough to navigate in any industry, let alone a male-dominated industry marked by constant chaos. The 2020’s have escalated nonstop supply chain disruption, from delays to shortages and workforce challenges. Supply chain obstacles are still being cited for growing global inflation. Identifying the right mentors and opportunities and being resilient in the face of constant change has never been more important to building a supply chain career.
Supply chain leaders are still struggling with an ongoing labor shortage—making getting and staying ahead harder. The continual talent shortage is aggravating consistent delays and limitations, and meanwhile, we all still need to open more meaningful dialogues about closing the gender gap in supply chain. Because diversity can empower greater business growth.
Studies have found that having more Women in supply chain™ can stoke more curiosity and agility—supporting organizations in meeting and exceeding business milestones.
At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, promoting yourself and other women in the industry has been a critical topic in our Women in supply chain™ blog series. We’re committed to closing the supply-chain gender gap with more visibility to the women logistics leaders making bold moves and career achievements. That’s why every month our Women in supply chain™ blog series introduces you to up-and-coming and veteran female trailblazers who are making major moves and forever changing the logistics and manufacturing industry as we know it. Let’s Talk Supply Chain shares the obstacles women leaders continually face, how they are empowering each other, and the ways they are igniting transformation across their organizations.
Women in supply chain™ blogs dive into the challenges women supply chain leaders navigate daily that often go unnoticed. We applaud their breakout business and personal achievements and the beginnings that positioned them for their latest breakthroughs, ushering change across the global supply chain. In our Women in supply chain™ blog series, we hear from women trailblazers across the global industry about their unexpected beginnings, stories, challenges they’ve overcome, and the supply chain career advice they have for other women to get ahead.
This month we’re proud to highlight Marisa Martin, Director of Corporate Strategy at Blume Global. Marisa boasts over a decade in logistics experience. She earned a Leadership Development Program certificate from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and achieved Business Administration and International Business degrees in Finance and Accounting from the University of Colorado Boulder.
1. How did your supply chain journey begin?
Believe it or not, I started my career as a bunker broker in Valparaiso, Chile. Working as a broker was an incredible opportunity because I could fully submerge myself in a new culture, travel the world, and understand the operational challenges we face in logistics and supply chain firsthand.
From there, I was recruited to lead the Americas sales team for a UK-based company, which focused on digitizing shipping documentation. Gaining a deep understanding of the operational challenges in logistics and leveraging my expertise in technology and digitization brought me to my current home, Blume Global, a WiseTech Company, and a leading global supply chain company.
2. How have mentors helped you gain career momentum?
I have had several amazing mentors throughout my life, but the one that always comes to mind is Paula DeMasi, a senior finance executive at Phillip Morris International. When I was 13 years old, and asked her if I could be her pseudo-daughter for Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. I remember putting on my suit, taking the 6 a.m. ferry from New Jersey to New York, and her handing me a pen a paper to take notes while I “interviewed” her boss and their supervisor throughout the day.
Participating in events like Bring Your Daughter to Work Day can be a powerful way to inspire and encourage young people, especially girls, to pursue careers in fields that they may not have considered. Having her as a mentor was valuable because she gave me access to knowledge, experience, and insights I might not have otherwise.
3. What’s it like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry?
Asking about gender-disparity-driven challenges is always a loaded question, and I have stories to share. However, I always say that just having that seat at the table is critical. It allows you to have a say in the decisions and advocate your ideas and perspectives. I’ve found that diversity of thought and perspective is essential for innovation and success. I continually speak up and share my ideas to break down barriers and pave the way for more women and other underrepresented groups to succeed. So make sure you are at the table.
4. When did you find your voice in supply chain?
I found my voice when I lived abroad in South America. My Spanish wasn’t excellent when I first moved there, and it was incredibly humbling to learn to communicate. I’ll never forget the first time I answered the phone, took my first sales call, and made my first presentation in Spanish. All of them went well. After I tackled that milestone—anything in English was a breeze.
5. Who do you admire in supply chain or outside of it?
I had the privilege to meet Kate Guttman a few years ago when I attended an intimate UPS round table event. Kate has shattered glass ceilings at UPS in every role she has taken over the last 30 years and received numerous honors for her contribution to our industry. After we met, I received a UPS package filled with UPS-brand goodies for my young son at my front door. It was heartwarming to know that as senior as she was in this enormous organization, she takes the time to connect with individuals to make a small impact in their lives. It’s a great reminder that success is about what we achieve and our impact on the people around us. It speaks to her leadership style and values, and I hope to be that kind of leader someday.
6. What advice do you have for women in advocating for themselves and others in supply chain?
First, be curious and willing to learn. The industry constantly evolves, and there is always something new to discover. Take the time to research and learn about the different aspects of the industry, including logistics, transportation, and technology.
Second, build your network. Attend industry events and conferences, connect with industry leaders and experts on social media, and join professional organizations. These connections can provide valuable insights and opportunities for career advancement.
Third, be confident in your abilities, and don’t be afraid to take risks. The industry needs more diverse perspectives and innovative ideas, so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and opinions.
And finally, seek out mentors and role models. Find people who inspire you and can offer guidance and support as you navigate your career. And remember that success is about achieving your goals and positively impacting the world around you.
7. What’s next on your supply chain career journey?
Over my supply chain journey, I have learned that my work significantly impacts me. While I think the DCSA eBL commitment should have happened years ago, I am thrilled that by 2030 we will finally accomplish that. Seeing the progress and industry commitment toward digitization validates my work and encourages me to help people innovate. On a personal note, I also hope my future includes mentoring more women to return to work. Covid left so many of my close friends in an impossible position with childcare, and these brilliant minds with MBAs and PHDs left the workplace. I know how difficult this decision was then, and I want nothing more than to help these intelligent women find ways to come back and continue to contribute to this fantastic industry.
The first area I want to focus on is continuing to have a positive impact in the industry. I’ve learned that even a small change can make a huge difference and improve someone’s day, which can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
Next, I want to make sure I am continuing to build relationships that can offer support, guidance, and valuable connections to bring everyone closer and facilitate more collaboration.
Lastly, I hope to attract more people to the industry. Now that I don’t need to explain to anyone what Supply Chain is ( thanks Covid!), I hope to be a mentor for those looking to launch and continue their career in supply chain.
8. What does being featured in the Women in supply chain™ series mean to you?
Being featured in the Women in supply chain™ series means so much to me. I fiercely advocate for inspiring and empowering other women to pursue their careers. I think it is so vital to raise awareness of the gender disparities that exist and to highlight the contributions that women make in the workplace.
Meet Our Sponsor
Women fuel the success of some of the world’s most successful businesses, yet barriers still exist. SAP is committed to supporting and elevating a new generation of women to profoundly lead and impact global supply chains and is proud to support the Women in supply chain™ Series and its efforts. Supply chains need to evolve from low-cost and optimized to risk-resilient and sustainable and SAP can help. SAP Digital Supply Chain solutions connect the entire process — design, planning, manufacturing, logistics, maintenance, and service; connecting your supply chains to the rest of your business and all your contextual data; supporting your efforts in alleviating risk in your supply chains. SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software and for the last 50 years has been helping companies to run better. Find out more at sap.com
About the Author
Naomi Sylvian is a content marketing leader with more than 17 years of experience, and the editor of Let’s Talk Supply Chain’s Women in supply chain™ series. Her works have appeared on Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider, The Muse, and Yahoo, and have been mentioned by The New York Times Online. Naomi mentors at-risk teens to fight recidivism and contribute on a local level, working with the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. Subscribe to her LinkedIn newsletter, The Chain Explained, for all things Supply Chain broken down with as many pop-culture references as possible, or view her marketing portfolio online.