LogiPharma USA 2023: Women Leaders in Supply Chain


The panel digs deeper into the challenges that women in the life sciences sector face.

LogiPharma USA 2023 session, "Women Leaders in Supply Chain.” October 6, 2023. LogiPharma USA 2023, Boston, Mass. Image Credit: Nicholas Saraceno.

LogiPharma USA 2023 session, "Women Leaders in Supply Chain.” October 6, 2023. LogiPharma USA 2023, Boston, Mass. Image Credit: Nicholas Saraceno.

LogiPharma USA continued its streak of providing thought-provoking sessions, this time via a panel discussion titled “Women Leaders in Supply Chain.” Moderated by Lucy Alexander, AstraZeneca’s capabilities lead, global supply chain and strategy, it also featured Maria Araujo, director, fellow, advanced technology strategy & transformation, Johnson & Johnson (J&J); Priya Durvasula, AVP, information systems quality & MQ data management, Eli Lilly & Co.; Victoria Wilmore, director, global temperature control support center, J&J; Jenifer Smith, senior logistics specialist, direct relief; and Michele Johnson, head of FDF procurement, Americas, Sandoz.

Overall, the goal of the panel was to provide an honest conversation surrounding the challenges faced by women in the life sciences space, and it started off with a provoking statistic per Gartner: in 2022, 39% of the total supply chain workforce consisted of women.

Aspect of progress

When asked about ways in which they have noticed progress in terms of female representation in the workforce, Wilmore and Smith were in agreement that women are building one another up; working groups are helping in this regard. Johnson commented that in fact, her manager along with her superior are women, and that women appear to be more helpful in pushing one another compared to 20-plus years ago.

The ‘likeability’ dilemma

The concept that women should be the more caring and nurturing gender—and the fact that what may be seen as ambitious in males might be seen as aggressive in women—could be due to unconscious bias, according to Araujo.

How can this be combatted? Wilmore suggested to be yourself, and that involves playing to one’s strengths.

Aspiring to have it all and supporting women in the workplace

As the panel discussion progressed, Alexander raised the question, should women aspire to “have it all”? In Durvasula’s opinion, this idea of having it all is in the eye of the beholder and is different for everyone; all that matters is being happy and achieving one’s goals.

Smith brought up a point that many of us can relate to the past few years—remote work has allowed for more flexibility; Araujo summarized it well in stating that having it all requires a balance; realistically, one cannot have everything all the time.

When it came to ways that both women and male allies can help foster growth and development, the panel agreed that the best manners to do so would be not interrupting women during meetings (speaking over them); crediting women if they come up with an idea by politely directing attention to them; a mentor or sponsorship; and having awareness of unconscious bias.

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