The supply chain industry has historically been thought of as a masculine industry. Words like trucking, storing, and hauling all have had masculine affiliations in the past; however, in recent years, women have been taking on more leadership roles and transforming stereotypes. Nancy Stefanowicz, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at NFI, is a great example. We recently sat down with Nancy to gain insight into her perspective of the industry, how she expects the industry to evolve, and how women can enhance their roles within supply chain.
How long have you worked in the supply chain industry?
I’ve been with NFI since 2006. Prior to NFI, I worked for Hess in its downstream division, which included transportation. I’ve always worked in male dominated industries including supply chain.
What do you like about working in the supply chain industry?
I think the supply chain industry is a very dynamic business. It has many moving parts that present a lot of opportunity to find successful and unique supply chain solutions for a variety of customers. With the many different job functions that make up an operation plenty of opportunity exists for many concentrations. I also enjoy working in an industry that has end-to-end solutions serving so many verticals.
What challenges have you encountered within the industry?
I would love to get with a group to share common challenges and discuss how to leverage and share best practices. There are a lot of industry trade events but not a lot of knowledge sharing or networking within the industry. I think this is attributed to the competitive nature of the industry. In supply chain, we deal with driver shortage and retention challenges, and some of the knowledge may be viewed as a competitive advantage. You really have to learn from your experience as well as the experience of your coworkers. Networking and gaining insight internally can be extremely valuable.
Only seven percent of top supply chain management executives are women1. How has this statistic affected your career?
I have noticed that the industry is predominantly male, but it has never affected my performance or my ability to do my job. Especially at NFI, I’ve always felt like my work has been valued within the organization and I’ve felt comfortable in my role.
How have you seen the industry evolve and where do you see it in the future?
Historically, many of the people within the industry have grown up in it. More recently, I’ve noticed more colleges introduce supply chain programs into their curriculum. The growing popularity of supply chain majors drives some of the growth of females in the industry. Just here at NFI, I have noticed far more females entering the business and bringing unique perspectives and solutions. The industry as a whole is maturing and I think the business has gotten more sophisticated to create that new workforce.
As a male-dominated field, what advice would you give to women entering and aspiring for leadership roles within the industry?
In college, internships are a great opportunity to see what the industry entails. There is so much opportunity whether it is with a shipper or working with a 3PL. I recommend to all women regardless of their field to get a mentor. Mentors help challenge you to grow and help you determine the next steps in your career. Their guidance and advice can also help you gain exposure. Employers are looking for innovative thinkers with the ability to problem solve. It is a wonderful industry to establish a career in.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs in logistics are expected to grow 26 percent between 2010 and 20202. What do you look for when hiring candidates?
We are always looking to hire supply chain majors since they have been introduced to the industry. It’s also impressive when candidates showcase that they’ve worked hard and put themselves through school. Having that “can do” attitude is really desirable in the industry where unique challenges can arise. We generally like to turn to our own talent from within. If someone likes this business, we can teach them and provide opportunities to grow their career with NFI.
Nancy Stefanowicz is the SVP of Human Resources at NFI and has been a member of the team since 2006. The HR team and the people strategy were developed under Nancy’s leadership and most recently NFI has been named one of Philly.com’s Top Workplaces.