What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I manage Citi’s Supplier Diversity and Sustainability Program. I started at Citi in 2008 in the Supplier Diversity role, and Sustainability was added to my portfolio several months after I arrived. The experience has been phenomenal. From the beginning, everything I have learned in my career to this point – the fantastic exposure of working with various business units, external stakeholders and suppliers; being a part of various memberships; and staying up to speed with both my GA and New York Bar Association memberships– helped create a path for me to strive and achieve great things at Citi.
For nearly 20 years, my career has focused on Supply Chain Management, and I incidentally came by this field because of my legal background.
In 1996], good friend contacted me about a position within IBM – an organization that was making significant changes, looking for individuals with legal backgrounds, had a dynamic leader, and was focused on an overall cultural transformation.
At the time, I was working for a small firm in Atlanta, and had a growing interest in that while the area of work. After accepting the job, I relocated to Raleigh and worked at IBM for 11 years. I grew to love what ultimately became the Integrated Supply Chain and the experience allowed my career and knowledge to truly evolve.
During my time at IBM, I worked in Software Procurement, and ultimately managed the Supply Chain Leadership Program (SCLP) which gave me an opportunity to recruit at the top supply chain schools in the nation and work with two HBCUs – Howard University and Clark Atlanta University, my alma mater – to assist with the development of supply chain curriculum at both schools.
I also managed Supplier Diversity for nearly four years, where I helped to establish a mentoring component and a training and development element to Supplier Diversity, managed Technical Services Procurement, worked with the business units, legal and others on a major outsourcing deal, and managing a team working on licensing and joint development agreements that supported Government and Business Relations.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
When looking at Supplier Diversity and Sustainability, we are often asked “What is the business case for supplier diversity?” The fact is, both are functions of business and can be integral to business decisions.
Supplier Diversity as a function essentially works to ensure that the supplier base of any firm are inclusive to those who represent the customer base, employee base, and the communities in which companies do business.
Sustainability, particularly "supply chain sustainability," puts the focus on the supply chain operations of the supplier and their practices with respect to environmental concerns, human rights abuses or labor law violations.
What is your proudest achievement?
During my tenure at IBM, I worked with the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) to create an executive mentoring program for women that is still in existence today. More recently, I am proud to have supported Citi’s efforts to expand our supplier diversity globally to maintain best practices within sustainability. And on a personal note, an extremely proud moment for me was being asked to sing the National Anthem at the New York New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council's (NYNJMSDC) Partnership Awards and gala.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most? Change agents.
Martin Luther King, Jr. – He was always focused on achieving the acknowledgment that we are all equal and that as citizens, the laws that govern and give rights to citizens of this country apply to all.
Mahatma Gandhi – He was peaceful, full of introspection, and encouraged change, but with the reminder that we each have accountability for the change we want to see.
Steve Jobs – He left no stone unturned. He was able to show both his creative side and his intellectual side and simply be himself. The path was not without challenges along the way, but in the end, his was a path that represented him at his core being. The world is all the better for his conviction, vision, and commitment.
Toni Morrison – She represents the artist in me and the author in me. She is a woman with a story that touches souls, opens hearts, and changes minds.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten to twelve years, I see myself watching as my six year old, transitions to college life. With the additional time that being an empty nester allots, perhaps I will finish writing that book and will advance and expand my role as a Supply Chain executive and college professor.
What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
My advice to young aspiring professionals is: understand your history. Always strive to be your best; identify a personal and professional goal; and in addition to your personal and professional growth, volunteer and serve in organizations which impact the community; and finally, be a passionate leader.
Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?
Over the years, I have amassed a treasure trove of thought leaders who I continue to lean on, listen to, and be strengthened by – personally, professionally, and spiritually. I also mentor others.