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“Supply Chain is a great place for a woman’s career and the Women in Supply Chain ERG will help launch you by retaining, developing and inspiring its members.”

Michele Wright

Friday, November 04, 2022

You got your B.E. Degree from Stevens Institute of Technology in Polymer Engineering. What is Polymer Engineering and how did you land on that as a major?

Polymer is the fancy word for plastics. I started college as a Chemical Engineer, and as part of my co-op program, I landed a job with a plastics company, and I loved that job. Being hands-on in the shop and running equipment on the floor, I knew this was something I really wanted to pursue. I planned to change my major to Materials Engineering after that co-op, and my advisor informed me they were opening Polymer Engineering to undergrads, so I jumped on it!

You moved into the Supply Chain space from Research & Development. How easy was it to make that transition and how did it come about?

First, the opportunity in Supply Chain came naturally. I was working in Packaging R&D where most of the team had Packaging degrees. They went to schools known for their packaging programs. I came in with a different background and after some time I realized there is more I can bring to MDLZ than just packaging. I was confident that I could use my skills outside of packaging, but where? I met a colleague at a workshop that I was facilitating, and she asked me if I would be interested in Supply Chain. The rest is history!

Second, how easy was the actual transition – it wasn’t. But any transition to a new role is not easy. The day to day in Packaging compared to the day to day in Supply Chain was night and day! The pace in supply chain was much more hectic, chaotic, unplanned – all the words. But now it’s been 5 years in Supply Chain, so I think I’ve done OK.

You worked at some other companies before coming to Mondelēz International. How did you get here?

As I mentioned, my degree is in Polymer Engineering and as a co-op I fell in love with injection molding. For 15 years prior to joining MDLZ, I worked at small family-owned companies around NJ, and I loved it! But in the smaller companies there was not the growth I needed, so I would hop from place to place every few years for a change of scenery. Because the companies I worked for were suppliers to CPGs, I thought let me try it on that side! Sent out a bunch of cold resumes to CPGs in NJ, and Kraft gave me a call.

three pictures of Michele

How has your career developed at Mondelēz and what is your current role?

In the 14 years I have been here, I have gotten 3 promotions, worked in 2 different categories (biscuit and confections) and 2 different functions (R&D and Supply Chain). I’d say that’s some nice development.

My current role is Business Development Manager for Cookies. In supply chain, this role is where the scoping for new innovation gets done (where can I make this, how much will it cost, do I need to invest capital), as well as understanding the Long Term Capacity of your network (how many pounds of cookies will I need 5 years from now – can I support that and if not, let’s get some plans in place). What is great about this role is that you see, hear and touch everything – manufacturing, engineering, R&D, marketing, finance, materials, etc. So, I have been learning a lot in this role!

Why should a female consider a career in this space? Is Supply Chain a good place for women to grow their career?

I am of the belief that there is no bad place for a woman to grow her career. Where she wants to grow it is up to her. I don’t think women should second guess if a certain function is right for females. If you have the passion, it’s the right place for you to be! For me, I have never felt out of place anywhere in my career. Supply Chain welcomed me, and I am doing just fine!

You currently co-lead the Women in Supply Chain Group. What are some of the things the ERG is doing to educate others and support those in this space?

I am so proud of the work the Supply Chain Women ERG does. I joined 5 years ago when I moved to Supply Chain, and I have been co-leading for the last 2 years. I will tell you; we are a small but mighty crew! Our Mission is to Retain, Develop and Inspire women in Supply Chain. We do this through 4 pillars. First is Mentoring (Retain). We have a very robust mentoring program where we provide 1-1 mentoring as well as small group mentoring, and the team does very thoughtful matching of the pairs to give the relationships the best chance of success. The second pillar is Capability Building (Develop), where training is provided - both in person and remote – on relevant topics and needed skills. It has included Basic Problem Solving, Intro to Il6S and Agile training. Third we have the Speaker Series (Inspire). Every month we invite folks to a one-hour session on topics relevant to women in Supply Chain. It’s a mix of speakers, listening to Ted Talks and discussing, Leadership Panels. It provides a safe space for healthy conversations and learning. Our fourth pillar is Communication – which is key to driving the success of our ERG.

What would you say to a young female who is thinking about the Supply Chain space for her future career?

Don’t overthink it. If this is where your passion is, go for it! Seek out others that work in the space and talk to them. Don’t hesitate because you think it’s not a great space for women. By you coming to Supply Chain, you help make it a great place, and that will inspire others after you!