Jacquelyn Howard has 30 years of experience in supply chain management. Nearly 20 of those were spent at McDonald’s Corporation, first in Chicago, and later in China where she led the Chinese supply infrastructure expansion for the global QSR giant. In 2017, Jacquelyn joined Starbucks as Vice President, Food Supply Chain Sourcing within the Global Supply Chain department where she is innovating supply chain solutions, mentoring talent, and overseeing go-to-market strategies.
Last week, the Master of Supply Chain Management program welcomed Jacquelyn Howard for a fireside chat to talk about her career in supply chain. Thirty-four attendees joined the chat to hear advice and ask questions of the supply chain veteran.
Jacquelyn generously shared the following tried and true strategies for developing a successful career.
Take More Chances
Jacquelyn attended Duke University with the intention of becoming a surgeon. Though she quickly changed her mind about her career track, she found her major to be fascinating and therefore finished her undergraduate studies with a degree in biomedical engineering. She secured a full fellowship from University of Delaware where she received an MBA from the Lerner School of Business. Her post-grad career started in the textile fibers division of Du Pont where she stayed for 10 years working between Charlotte, NC and NYC. A call from a recruiter led to an offer and a new career at McDonald’s Corporation. It was a great option with a strong brand in the great city of Chicago. And while it wasn’t a place she had ever considered, McDonald’s was growing astronomically, had an excellent culture, and was a fantastic opportunity, so she took it.
Bottom line? Your career does not have to be “linear” as she put it. Consider the opportunities that come your way and be open to where they can take you.
Always Have a Plan…and a Back Up Plan
In real life and in supply chain, a contingency plan is always needed. Jacquelyn recalled a time while reviewing inventory when she realized one of the sandwich menu items was running low. A couple of calls later she learned the sandwich had been part of a marketing campaign that led to higher sales. Since the campaign was not known to her team, they were predicting a shortage. Thankfully she had a plan to help the situation. Jacquelyn noted that there are numerous ways plans can go awry and therefore, strongly recommends having back-up plans along with strong communications and a solutions mindset.
Bottom line? Contingency plans are important because whether you are dealing with a sandwich demand situation or mapping out a new idea, it is imperative to keep a watchful eye out for pitfalls, and be proactive about alternative solutions.
Invest in the Things that Matter to You
Jacquelyn’s career move from McDonald’s to independent consultancy to Starbucks was rooted in her passions and personal values. She emphasized how important it was for her to move to a place that treated both employees and suppliers well. She knew that she wanted to work somewhere that cares about sustainability, as Starbucks does, and fill a role with the power to make a difference, which she believes supply chain is equipped to do.
Bottom line: Know your values and passions. Be conscious of where you can make a difference and let that drive you.
Jacquelyn left the fireside chat with a powerful closing thought:
People don’t always see how supply chain is important, but I am not just a supply chain person, I’m a business leader. There are so many areas you touch, and impact, while meeting incredible people along the journey.