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Functional Expertise as a Leadership Path for Women

Beth Ford writes for the Wall Street Journal exploring how and why supply chain managers make such good candidates for an ascent into senior leadership roles. It boils down to functional expertise. Supply chain managers tend to have “integrated experience across very different and key functions in purchasing, manufacturing, engineering, strategy and logistics and often oversee new product launches and customer service.” Having a hand in so many aspects of the business molds you into employee with a very diverse skillset, which is precisely what is demanded of CEOs.

Women Leading the Way

However, Ford narrows her focus to women, who historically have had a more difficult time securing leadership roles. Ford herself is the executive vice president, chief supply chain and operations officer at Land O’Lakes, so she speaks with authority. She identifies line leadership as being a crucial skill for women who want to get ahead, and when opportunities for cross-functional assignments appear, women should take them, even if the assignments might overstep the ladies’ current resumes. As Mary Barra becoming the CEO of General Motors indicates, businesses are eager to employ the people who have developed an end-to-end understanding of how the business operates. Click here to read Ford’s full thesis: http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2014/02/25/supply-chain-functional-expertise-offers-a-leadership-path-for-women/

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