Monday, June 4, 2018
New WERC Board Member Kristi Montgomery eager to help develop innovative approaches to attracting greater diversity within supply chains
Director at Large, WERC Board of Directors
VP, Innovation, Research & Development
As a freshly minted information technology (IT) graduate, Kristi Montgomery landed her first job with her only employer, the Kenco Group, nearly 28 years ago. Since then she’s risen through the ranks from her initial role as a PC technician to management to Vice President of IT and—most recently—as the Vice President of Innovation, Research and Development.
Although the Kenco Group has long been an active corporate member of the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), Montgomery says her responsibilities overseeing the company’s internal IT network and infrastructure were too hyper-focused for her to benefit from most of the association’s offerings. When she stepped into a senior leadership role, however, everything changed.
“When I assumed responsibility for all of the key systems that help us serve our customers—including warehouse management, yard management, transportation management and labor management—I wanted to gain a better understanding of the broader implications of technology within the supply chain field,” she explains. “I knew from my colleagues that WERC was going to provide both insight and significant value.”
While Montgomery appreciates WERC’s structured educational sessions at every Annual Conference she’s attended, she particularly values the opportunities to learn from her peers within the industry via Peer-to-Peer sessions and informal networking.
“Simply interacting with others in the field to share best practices, challenges, and how to approach solutions—whether it’s a process improvement or a new technology implementation—has been so valuable to me,” she explains.
“It's one thing to go to a conference and learn a new topic. It’s even more valuable to be able to hear from people who have lived and breathed what you’re facing, made it through their process successfully, and are eager to share the lessons learned,” Montgomery says.
“By taking more of a real-life, case study approach, as opposed to allowing vendors make a sales pitch, WERC says to participants and members that no matter what your challenge is, somebody’s probably ‘been there, done that’ before—and they’re willing to talk about it,” she continues.
Montgomery also appreciates that WERC’s educational content is member-driven, prioritizing useful topics and actionable insights that help members succeed. “I really like that WERC content is not driven by a leadership group that thinks it knows what the membership needs; instead, they actually pull the information from the members via the decision-making committees and the Board of Directors, all made up of industry volunteers,” she explains.
In fact, Montgomery is so impressed by that approach, she has volunteered to serve as one of the newest Directors at Large on the WERC Board. “When you’ve been in this industry as long as I have, you look for ways to give back. To me, being more involved with WERC is an opportunity to develop the next generation of supply chain leaders and provide educational opportunities for those who are new to the industry,” she explains.
With her interest in and emphasis on innovation, Montgomery is particularly excited to be involved in some of the new online learning initiatives WERC is currently developing for members.
“I’d like to see WERC offer more sessions on how to address the transformations in our industry,” she explains. “I’d also like to be involved in developing new ways to bridge the gap between the current and the newer generation, who are not interested in sitting through days of meetings or PowerPoint training sessions. They want to get something on their mobile device, watch it in a few minutes and move on.”
Montgomery feels strongly that developing innovative ways to share industry knowledge is a key component of enticing the next generation of workers to supply chain jobs: “As an industry, we need to focus on attracting talent to our facilities; having online learning offered by a neutral, third-party organization like WERC will go a long way toward helping new employees grow in their supply chain careers.”
Among that generation of future workforce, she’d like to see more women exposed to the opportunities and varied career paths available throughout the supply chain industry. As a woman who entered the field at a time when not many others did, Montgomery is encouraged to see WERC’s increasing diversity on the Board and among the membership as a whole.
“But, I still think the industry has room to grow and improve, and one of the best ways women can do that is to network with each other,” she says. “If you’re new to the industry, find a mentor; if you’re like me and have been around for a while, find those people that you can help to grow in their careers and become industry leaders.”
Additionally, Montgomery is hoping to help WERC develop initiatives to further introduce female undergraduates to the breadth of careers within the supply chain field as they’re exploring their options. “I would love to see more women at the leadership level throughout our industry; one way to do that is to make sure we attract more women to the field at the college level, as these young people are the ones with the potential to be our next leaders,” she concludes.
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