of industry associations and mentoring programs, and the
ongoing fight between her left brain and right brain.
QI understand you graduated with a degree in industrial engineering from North Carolina State. How did you
first become involved in supply chain management, and
what attracted you to the field?
AProbably like many people, I just happened into the field. I had the good fortune of being steered into getting a degree in industrial engineering by my father, who
was himself an engineer. But my heart as a young person
was in the nonprofit world. I really wanted to make my
mark in helping people, and I was passionate about volunteer work. Once I got into engineering,
I found I really liked the people and
process work. I found out I had a little
more of an engineer in me than I had
After undergrad, I went directly into
the M.B.A. program at [the University
of North] Carolina and did my summer
work with Jim Tompkins [founder of
the supply chain consulting company
Tompkins International (Tompkins)].
Once on board with Tompkins, I had
the good fortune to work in areas
beyond the scope of traditional engineering work, like helping Jim publish
his books and market his brand. Then,
I had the chance to support Tompkins’
expansion internationally. Because of
that, I gained broad industry experience, and my career was born.
Jim used to say he loved watching my left brain fight with
my right brain, and I guess that’s me in a nutshell. I always
was an engineer at heart, ever since I was a kid. My dad
worked in the space program in Melbourne, Fla. He would
come home from Cape Canaveral with these giant nuts and
bolts, and I would play with them as a toddler. I guess I was
an engineer from the start, but I had to find myself, and I
found myself in supply chain.
QI love the idea of your left brain fighting with your right brain. Can you explain what that’s about?
AI think it’s about really loving the people side of things but also having a very analytical approach to life and
problem solving. Supply chain allows you to be very ana-
lytical while taking into account real-life challenges that
people face every day. That’s definitely where I function
best, where the two intersect.
QWhat continues to attract you to the field today?
AOne of the things I love best about being in supply chain today is working as an entrepreneur [with the
warehouse software company Optricity]. I have the opportunity to be a leader and be at the forefront of technology.
Many people outside of supply chain don’t understand that
this is very much a technology field.
Upon returning to the industry 11 years ago [after a
hiatus working in another field], my
partners [Dan Basmajian and Chuck
Grissom] and I recognized that slotting
optimization had not kept up with the
pace of change. Instead, other technologies had taken a front seat in terms
of what was driving the market. Our
software initiatives sparked the slotting
market space to come alive again. That
was exciting. It’s a great industry if you
want to be a market creator, a market
maker, and a technology driver. If you
want to make a difference in the world,
you really can find that space in supply
QOver the years, you have been heav- ily involved in the Warehousing
Education and Research Council
(WERC), including serving as the
group’s president. Why do you feel it is important to
become involved in industry associations?
AIndustry associations provide a platform to serve our professional communities. Associations support our
professional development and provide mentorship opportunities to people who are just starting out or making a
career change. That’s critical if we are going to develop the
resources needed in the future. From an economic standpoint, we have to grow human capital resources or the
industry will be shorthanded in the future. From a social
standpoint, [mentoring and helping young professionals
develop their careers] is a fundamental responsibility, in
From my very earliest days, I have been a person who