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Women in supply chain are constantly driving momentum, innovation, and a revolution in the way we think, talk about, and run supply chains. These female leaders are building them back—stronger. At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, understand the value in women supporting each other, unleashing their collective power, and shaping a more accepting and diverse professional community. Women empowering women opens doors to more female supply chain leaders and breaking out of gender roles and away from the status quo. At Let’s Talk Supply Chain we’re doing our part every month by featuring the trailblazing woman supply chain leaders and their bold moves to propel the supply chain forward into a brighter future.

In our Women in Supply Chain series, you meet the up-and-coming and supply chain thought leaders who you should know and learn what motivates them and how they’re changing the chain. Let’s Talk Supply Chain highlights the challenges they’ve conquered, their leaps of faith and achievements, and the paths that brought them where they are now, leading organizations across the global supply chain.

These supply chain leaders share what it’s like breaking out of stereotypes and into leadership roles—breaking glass ceilings across the chain along the way. Keep reading for inspiring stories, career advice, and expert guidance on breaking into the chain.

This month we’re proud to feature Shana Riggs, a consultant and supply chain executive with experience building processes and high-performance teams across industries and for popular retail brands. With more than two decades of global operations experience, Shana has explored the chain, while crossing cultural divides and gender barriers. Shana has focused her career on empowerment every step of the way—she currently acts as a mentor for supply chain up and comers.

How did your supply chain journey start?

My supply chain career started at a plastics company managing imports and exports. I focused on Chinese imports and opening two new Mexico-based facilities—a learning opportunity that introduced me to Trade and Compliance.

Next, I worked as an Import Export Specialist for BAX Global exploring the other side of the business to become a Station General Manager which meant working in sales for a minimum of a year.  And I did before becoming the first female GM in the eastern division. Then Schenker purchased BAX and I left for a new opportunity at ANN INC (Ann Taylor and Loft).

The retail brand was relocating its logistics team to Louisville, KY where the distribution center was based. At ANN I oversaw International Logistics and later took on Global Logistics.  I was able to hone my Request for Proposal (RFP) and negotiation skills while amassing an incredible global logistics team.

After Ascena purchased ANN, I accepted the Vice President of Logistics and Trade position at Chico’s in Florida. I was thrilled to have this opportunity, even though it was difficult with my husband and daughter staying behind in Indiana to complete her senior year.  At Chico’s, I enjoyed the challenge of heading up Trade, Global Logistics, and Distribution.

Who inspires you?

Later in my career, after understanding and appreciating servant leadership, I saw that Shelley Simpson (J.B. Hunt CCO) epitomized it. Executives harnessing servant leadership build a resilient team on empowerment—dedicating themselves to creating opportunities and the ability to succeed.

Did you have a supply chain mentor?

Outside of my father teaching me the love of negotiation, tenacity, and strong work ethic, I had a strong female mentor early in my career, Ella. She’s an entrepreneur from Hong Kong who owned half a dozen businesses—I worked at each of them. She showed me just how much women can advance their careers while teaching me business sense.

Who or what inspires you?

There are so many trailblazing women in supply chain who I admire including Suzanna Zhu at Hershey, Sandra MacQuillan at Mondelez, and the supply chain leaders at Amazon. I’m constantly amazed at how these leaders continually innovate and improve the end-to-end supply chain.

How have you navigated a male-dominated industry?

I had to develop a thick skin early on in my supply chain career. My experience has improved immensely over the years.  Starting, it was difficult always being the only woman in the room and being underestimated.

When did you have your breakthrough?

I’ve always had a strong voice—from both of my parents—also, a passage in the book Tim S. Grover book, Relentless had a powerful impact on how I handled life when my goal wasn’t being realized.

The passage is:

 “One of the hardest things to do is change course once you’ve set your goals. You made a decision, you worked for it, you earned the payoff… but for whatever reason, it’s not going the way you planned.

It’s not weak to recognize when it’s time to shift directions.

It’s weak to refuse to consider other options and fail at everything because you couldn’t adapt to anything.”

Be open to change and new directions.

What have you learned on your supply chain journey?

I’ve found my passion in building winning teams comprised of strong partners with internal and external customers.  I’ve learned that sometimes you need to step back and take a beat to be deliberate. It’s tough to slow down in a fast-paced industry like supply chain.

This past year I’ve enjoyed consulting, but I miss being part of a global team. With all of the disruption, I am remaining open to the future and new directions.

What do you want future supply chain leaders to know?

Be tenacious, be prepared for the ups and downs in your career, and learn as much as possible about every aspect of supply chain and the entire business. I am currently mentoring a talented young woman in college, and I give her this advice constantly.

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

I’m honored to be featured and hope we can continue promoting more female leaders in all aspects of supply chain. We need to support women on their career paths who are maneuvering the obstacles that come with this crazy, challenging, and unbeatable career.

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 GarniceNaomi 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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