Nancie Torrence is JDA’s Group Vice President for Aerospace and Defense and leads the company’s Women’s Interest Network, a group focused on mentoring, sponsoring and developing women at all levels to realize their full career potential at JDA.  In this week’s Wednesdays for Women blog, she shares her experiences from attending three annual Symposiums presented by AWESOME (Achieving Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain, Operations, Management and Education). AWESOME was founded five years ago by Ann Drake, CEO of DSC Logistics, with the objective of advancing women’s leadership in supply chain. Today, there are more than 1,100 senior women leaders in supply chain in the network.  JDA is the host sponsor of this year’s event, May 9-11 in Orlando, Fla.

I am delighted that JDA is the host partner of this year’s AWESOME Symposium. Having been to three previous events, I’ve learned first-hand the power of getting senior women in supply chain together for conversations, best-practice sharing and learning. It can be career-changing!

The first AWESOME Symposium I attended was hosted by Johnson & Johnson at their corporate headquarters in 2015. I was in awe – humbled and honored to be among the 200+ executive women who attended!  It was a fantastic opportunity to connect, learn, develop new friendships and support others’ initiatives aimed at advancing women in supply chain roles. One of my favorite sessions was the panel of male executives talking about what they have done – and more importantly the work they still must do – to support women within their own companies. I left the event feeling like I was no longer going it alone!  There were so many fantastic ideas about how to enact culture changes at our own companies, as well as new techniques for leadership on diversity issues.  It was the best symposium I had ever been to and I left on a total high. Someone even asked me on my flight home why I had such a big smile. It was because I had become so energized by the event – the speakers, the networking and the opportunity to learn from my peers across industries and regions!

Thinking there was no way that my second Symposium could top the first, I traveled to Portland, for the 2016 event at Nike headquarters. I quickly learned how wrong I was! The AWESOME leadership team out-did themselves with the venue, and the entire event exceeded my expectations! The theme – How We Make Things Happen! – was perfect for an event hosted by the company who added “Just Do It!” to our vernacular.  The speakers, content and panel discussions were enlightening. And once again, the networking opportunities – which are at the heart of the AWESOME Symposium – were what really made the event special.  They proved that there truly is “power in the network.”

Passion for Progress was the theme of last year’s Symposium, hosted at the University Club of Chicago.  It was such an appropriate theme, because the passion for learning, sharing, and advancing women in their careers was on full display! The energy throughout the Symposium was amazing and I felt that the conversations during the networking sessions were more positive, and reflected more confidence among attendees than in years past. This was a sign to me that change is occurring and this event is making a difference! Many women return each year, their resolve and careers growing, buoyed by the support and inspiration they receive from the AWESOME network throughout the year and by attending the annual Symposium.

I have attended many seminars and conferences in my career, and there is none quite like the AWESOME Symposium. The opportunity to have thought-provoking, in-depth and honest conversations with other senior women is so valuable.  You get to speak candidly, surface issues and understand possible resolutions, gain the confidence to approach and accept challenges, and learn to be your own advocate and be empowered. Where else can you go for just a few days and walk away with the tools and inspiration you need to change your career in ways you never dreamed possible?

Multiple times in all three Symposiums that I attended, I heard the Gandhi quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I can say with confidence that being a member of AWESOME gives women the tools and empowerment they need to change the world!

Editor’s Note:  The AWESOME Symposium is an invitation-only event for women who are members of the AWESOME Network. AWESOME continually welcomes new members who meet the criteria as senior level supply chain executives, and only members of the network receive an invitation to attend the Symposium. Check out the membership criteria to see if you are eligible! If your background and experience are a fit, complete the form on the page to receive your invitation to join the network.  Once a member of the AWESOME Network, you will receive an invitation to attend the AWESOME Symposium May 9-11 in Orlando.