An Interview with Women in Supply Chain Forum’s Dr. Mary Kelly

An interview with Dr. Mary Kelly

MHI and MHEDA are once again in partnership to present the Women in Supply Chain Forum at MODEX next month in Atlanta. Mary Kelly, PhD, CSP, CDR, US Navy (Ret.) will be the keynote speaker and will also conduct a workshop for us to dive deeper into the topic of change management and leading change. This interview is an opportunity to get to know Dr. Kelly better and gain insight into her thought leadership.

1. As we look forward to the Women’s Forum next month, what excites you about the upcoming program and topic?

This is SUCH an amazing group of people, and their passion and energy is contagious! My goal is to make tough situations easier for participants. We are focusing on leadership and how to lead change, and that is inherently tough. This is a smart program and I have all new tools to share, to help people understand the why behind why people resist change and how to get in front of those objections. I desperately want to make the audience feel as though this was a great use of their time and that what we accomplish will help them in the future!

2. You are incredibly passionate about your work; where does that passion come from?

People who create things make the world better for the rest of us! The exciting part about working with MHI and MHEDA is that everyone is so incredibly passionate about creating products, goods, and services that make the world better.

3. As a Naval Academy graduate and former Commander in the Navy, you thrived in environments where women leaders are not prevalent. What advice do you have for those working to advance their careers who want to be known as leaders and influencers?

I think we need to be mindful that good leadership is good leadership. It doesn’t matter what your gender is or your cultural background or anything else. Good leadership works for everyone, but that is where it becomes tough. People are individuals. You cannot hope that a generalization will work for everyone. You cannot say, “Women need this or Latinas need this or Irish-Catholics need this.” It would be much easier if you could just apply the same techniques and have it work on everyone, but that is not what leadership is. Leadership is helping individuals find their greatness, helping them take ownership of their realm, and getting them to do more than they thought possible. We are truly better together, and helping each other is the only way we can achieve the impossible.

4. The world of supply chain and material handling is affected by many external forces; tariffs and international trade, energy, raw material costs and labor shortages to name a few. As an economist, what do you think will be key impacts to our industry in the next 2-5 years?

I actually think that the trade issues and tariffs that have impeded trade will improve in 2020 and beyond. People need to realize that we are better when the playing field is equal and when we all compete by doing what we do best. Any time there are trade negotiations it makes people uneasy because their profit margins are at risk, but the world needs fewer tariffs and more free markets to prosper.

5. Change is occurring at a much more rapid pace in the last several years, how do you coach leaders on how to keep up and successfully navigate through these exciting but challenging times?

It is harder now than ever to be a great leader. Not only are great leaders having to push themselves to be better, but they are also being pushed by people and technology and the growth is exponential. Leaders today have to find ways to merge humans and technology in a way that works, and that is the challenge. There is more to know, more to do, and change is faster and faster. Leaders today have to better than they ever have been, and that is tough.

6. As the author of numerous books, which book stands out as the most impactful to your readers and why? Which book was the most rewarding to write?

The books are all really rewarded because they cater to different groups of people.  Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success was great because I was able to work with Peter Stark, and he is amazing.  He pushed me to be better and we used data for that project.  The new book, Who Comes Next? Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy was written with Meridith Elliott Powell and I learned so much from her as well.  That book is exciting because it is a whole system on developing current and future leaders.  

It was a privilege to interview and get know Dr. Mary Kelly. We can’t wait to hear her speak Monday, March 9th at the Women in Supply Chain Forum. The program includes Dr. Kelly’s keynote and workshop on change management. The event kicks off with lunch and the day ends with a networking happy hour! You won’t want to miss it!  Register yourself and your team today.