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2024 AWESOME Symposium: Takeaways for Leading Women in Supply Chain

What an honor to be hosted by Sam’s Club in their incredible offices in Bentonville, Arkansas, for the 11th Annual AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education) Symposium! As usual, this event was attended by women leaders in supply chain from some of the world’s top companies and featured presentations from thought leaders in risk, sustainability, and supply chain operations – there was even an appearance by businesswoman and entertainer Drew Barrymore. It was an exciting few days spent engaging and learning from some of the best in the field. Below, we share some of our takeaways from the 2024 AWESOME Symposium: 

2024 AWESOME Symposium: Takeaways for Leading Women in Supply Chain        

Redefining Leadership 

As with previous AWESOME Symposiums, it’s hard to imagine a better environment to be inspired by the innovative thinking and powerhouse women both on the stage and in the audience. This year’s conference kicked off with a peek behind the curtain with presentations from some of Walmart’s women leaders in supply chain, where the group took on topics like redefining leadership in the 21st century and navigating global supply chains in today’s retail environment. We also heard from Chris Nicholas, EVP, President, and CEO of Sam’s Club, as he proudly welcomed the group of 200+ women to his company HQ – he may have also made mention that Walmart was always hiring great talent! 

The Walmart leaders covered a lot of ground on the topic of leadership, but one area that was particularly interesting to us was thinking about the idea of safety in the workplace more broadly to include psychological safety. One presenter indicated that creating psychological safety amongst your team is one of the fundamental, basic building blocks of a high performing team – creating the space for your team to speak the truth, be authentic, and ultimately bring their best self to work – and can be one of the most important things a leader does when taking on a new team. 

Mitigating Business Risks 

On the second day of the Symposium, the first panel of the day comprised of several women leaders who spoke broadly about business risks. The potential risks and real issues that businesses must address continue to compound – with threats around cybersecurity, global instability and war, inflation, political uncertainty, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) (both a risk and a huge opportunity for most) – and put a tremendous amount of pressure on business leaders to combat. This panel addressed many of these topics, and more, as they provided guidance for the supply chain leaders in attendance.  

Investing in Supply Chain Education 

The agenda for the day also included wonderful spotlights from the AWESOME Scholars who shared how they became interested in supply chain, how they invested in their supply chain education, and most importantly what they are looking forward to in their supply chain careers.  It’s always inspiring to see this impressive future generation of leaders in action. 

Exploring AI, Allyship, Sustainability, and More 

Other key topics that were discussed included expert perspectives on AI – and how supply chain leaders should be thinking about the impact innovative AI technologies will have on the supply chain organization – as well as ordinary ways of working. AWESOME also included the traditional “men’s panel” to talk about allyship in the workplace and how men can and should support diverse perspectives in their organization. We also heard perspectives of what’s on the horizon in sustainability and how supply chain professionals should be thinking about the key topics impacting companies today.  

Building a Diverse Supply Chain Talent Pipeline for the Future 

One of the things we look forward to the most each Symposium is hearing from our friend and sought after executive, Dana Stiffler, Managing Vice President from Gartner, who reviewed the results of the 2023 AWESOME + Gartner Women in Supply Chain survey, which is the only study being done on women’s careers in supply chain.  This year’s survey indicated there are more women working in the supply chain workforce, citing the importance of flexibility at work, although the number of women in manager / supervisor roles remained flat year over year. Once again, the AWESOME organization put on a wonderful event that prioritized networking, education, and building a diverse supply chain talent pipeline. We enjoyed reconnecting with the impressive women in our AWESOME universe and look forward to attending again next year! 

If you’re interested in hearing more about any of our lessons learned at this year’s AWESOME Symposium or other trends and topics impacting the supply chain, we’d love to chat. Reach out to our team today. 


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Tags: Event Recap, Supply Planning & Execution, Retail Trends