Jennifer Foster: Leading the Digital Supply Chain

image (3)Jennifer Foster, Senior Manager of Solutions Innovation at Jabil St. Petersburg, is changing the landscape of how we think about supply chains. As one of seven nominees of this year’s 2016 Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Award, Jennifer is successfully leading efforts in digitizing one of the most complex and advanced supply chains in the world.

Jennifer works with architects and experts across many technologies to bring a world-class supply chain experience to the customer. She’s helping Jabil transform from a traditional Electronics Manufacturing Services provider to a true product realization company.

In her current role, she supports the digitization of Jabil’s supply chain.  Jennifer is helping transition Jabil supply chain from spreadsheets, to a highly visible and collaborative discipline which leverages big data, cloud based offerings and deep analytics.

A thought leader in the area of digital supply chains and analytics, Jennifer is a role model for females employees. In fact, she has trained, coached and mentored females to establish them as future Jabil leaders.

As a mentor, Jennifer listens and encourages decisions that will support the long-term growth of her peers. She has an eye for people’s strengths and provides valued feedback on career choices to help her fellow colleagues thrive and recognize new opportunities.

Outside of her responsibilities at Jabil, Jennifer spends time with her family everyday after work in what she calls her “5 to 8 time.” A proud mother of two girls, she is a true example of what it looks like to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Her community impact is grounded in the welfare and development of children. When not at work or with her family, Jennifer volunteers at her daughter’s school and is an advocate for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs for children.

“I’ve seen amazing growth in Jen over the past couple of years. She has been absolutely instrumental in the success we’ve had with Jabil InControl, being a solid, shining diamond on the team,” said Ross Valentine, Director of Solutions Innovation at Jabil. “When the opportunity came to nominate Jen for the STEP Award my head instantly went to how much of a mentor she has been for other Jabil employees, but also the opportunities in front of her to mentor young females starting out and thinking about entering the field of manufacturing.”

Jennifer’s priorities are her children, her community and her contribution to revolutionizing an industry. Her dedication to digitizing Jabil’s supply chain shows that her leadership is not only effective but also transformational.

From Around the Web: Why There Are Still Few Women Leaders in Tech

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Diversity of talent and gender equality in the workplace is something many of today’s companies aim to achieve. Over the years, progressive fields like technology have established broader career opportunities which have opened the doors for female employees to be promoted equally, beside men.

Despite the advancements and opportunities in technology, and the decades of progress towards a more gender-balanced workplace, the role of women in the field has somehow subsided.

According to a report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the role of women with tech jobs has stalled and, in some cases, even declined. In 2008, women on average held 25 percent of IT-related jobs in the US, a drop from the 36 percent occupied in 1991. In addition, women between the ages of 25 and 34 have reported being unsatisfied with their tech careers, with 56 percent leaving their jobs at the peek of their career, which is double the rate for men.

Elena Kvochko, Head of Global Cyber Security Strategy and Implementation at Barclays, recently wrote an article for Forbes, illustrating the danger of the rate of progress of women participation in technology. According to Kvochko, we should be encouraging women to participate in the growing field of technology and apply for higher-level managerial roles.

Because the amount of women that hold leadership roles in fields like tech is still a work in progress, Jabil has a strong focus on increasing gender diversity and leadership of women in the workplace.

“Like engineering, IT has traditionally been a male-dominant profession but this landscape has been changing and improving,” said May Yap, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Jabil GreenPoint. “Being the first female CIO recruited into Jabil, demonstrated Jabil’s senior leadership team’s determination to encouraging leadership of women in the workplace.”

May also adds that, aside from being tech-savvy, females aiming to be successful leaders in the tech field should seek out mentors, utilize their communication skills, and never shy away from speaking up and asking for help.

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We want to hear from you: How do you encourage and promote female leaders at your site?

Jabil Sponsors Women in STEM Lunch & Lab at Florida Polytechnic University

Jabil Joules attend the Women in STEM Lunch & Lab along with Florida Polytechnic University students.
Jabil Joules attend the Women in STEM Lunch & Lab along with Florida Polytechnic University students.

Jabil recently sponsored a table at the inaugural Women in STEM Lunch & Lab at Florida Polytechnic University (Florida Poly). The event, which took place on Pi day, March 14, is part of a university-wide initiative to promote gender diversity in STEM careers and bridge the perception gap of those fields.

The event featured keynote speaker Dr. Pamela McCauley, an ergonomics expert and internationally recognized speaker and professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the University of Central Florida where she leads the Human Factors in Disaster Management research team and serves as the Director of the Ergonomics Laboratory.

McCauley spoke on several topics including the bias and stereotypes regarding women in STEM fields, retaining female talent within the industry and achieving a successful work-life balance.

“Ladies, you really are amazing and it’s so important to understand the impact that we have together,” said McCauley. “We can make such a difference in this world and today I want to encourage each of us because this is an issue that helps every person understand and realize, in particularly women going into STEM, the significance of women and the impact they can have.”

The Lunch & Lab also featured table centerpieces created by university students that represented the projects and innovation underway at Florida Poly. Guests were encouraged to vote on their favorite centerpiece and student Kevin Stephens won for his bridge project, which focused on bridging the perception gap.

All proceeds from the Lunch & Lab support scholarships and Florida Poly’s mission to prepare students in the advanced fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to become innovative problem-solvers and high-tech professionals.
As a company that embraces gender balance and equality at all levels, Jabil was proud to sponsor the event and help women build networks and realize opportunities in STEM fields.

Eric Austermann Speaks During United Nations Global Compact Meeting

3db90609-653d-4886-9607-30432809b12bOn the heels of International Women’s Day, the United Nations Global Compact is holding their annual Women’s Empowerment Principles today in New York City. The event theme, Business Partners for Gender Equality: Multipliers for Development, aligns with Jabil Joules’ mission to educate, mentor and encourage diversity and to champion the business benefits of gender balance.

Jabil’s Eric Austermann, Vice President of Social & Environmental Responsibility, is representing Jabil today during the event. Eric will participate as a panelist on the topic of “Why Women’s Health in the Workplace MattersPrescriptions for Action.” Jabil’s Health Enables Returns (HER) Project will be highlighted as this video will be played during the panel discussion. The HER Project is an educational program that focuses on enriching the lives of our female employees in Asia, through self-development dialogue. Classroom sessions include lessons that cover family and reproductive health, self-esteem and wellness, life coaching, team building and personal enrichment.
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The Jabil Joules network thanks Eric for being a thought leader and champion of gender equality.

Dr. Gillian Shapiro: Minimizing Bias and Maximizing Inclusion


Dr. Gillian Shapiro regularly conducts and is asked to speak on her leading edge research on Inclusive Leadership. She led pan-European action research programs across a number of sectors on employee diversity and innovation. Her Doctorate focused on the career development of women into senior leadership roles. Shapiro believes that unconscious bias can affect every area of our life and that we have a tendency to favour people who look like us, think like us and come from backgrounds similar to ours.

What is Unconscious Bias?

Everyone likes to think that they are open-minded and objective, but research show that values and experiences we gain from our culture, family and education, as well as the media, heavily influence how we view and evaluate others and ourselves. Research has shown that, despite our best intentions, unconscious bias can get in the way of building a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Minimizing Bias and Maximizing Inclusion

Diversity is all around us and we need to learn how to become conscious of potential bias, minimize any negative impact and, drawing on simple actions, become more inclusive in our everyday management and leadership roles. There is plenty of evidence to show that a diverse and inclusive workplace leads to more profitable and innovative companies, but many organizations still struggle to reach the level of diversity and inclusion they seek.

Diversity Bias

According to Gillian, there are around 150 types of bias, but being aware of three of them is particularly important in the workplace.  Affinity bias is  the tendency to have emotional attachment to your own ideas, vocabulary and ways of doing things and to devalue those of others.  The Halo effect is the tendency for us to rate the abilities of people we like more highly. Thirdly, projection bias is the tendency to think others have the same attitudes, values and beliefs as oneself. All of these biases can impact women and men working effectively together as they can create negative outcomes and reduce diversity of perspective. Bias can be costly in businesses, because it can cause us to make decisions that are not objective and in miss opportunities.

Patterns, Assumptions and Interpretations

Yale University researchers asked 127 scientists to review a job application of identically qualified male and female students and found that the faculty members – both men and women – consistently scored a male candidate higher on a number of criteria such as competency and were more likely to hire the male. Nobel Prize winning economist, Daniel Kahneman explains why in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”.  Kahneman explains that we have two predominant modes of thinking – what he calls System 1, or fast thinking and System 2, or slow thinking. Our System 1 thinking is intuitive and what we draw on most of the time. It’s fast and efficient but, in tending to ignore ambiguity and suppress doubt, it exposes us to bias. Kahneman says that our System 2 or slower thinking brain can counterbalance these flaws. System 2 thinking interrogates evidence and picks up on stereotypes and assumptions being made.  However, it is also slower and much more effortful and it’s for this reason that we tend to rely on our fast System 1 thinking.  We need to consciously bring our System 2 thinking into play to counteract the unconscious bias of our System 1 thinking.

Gillian’s Advice on Minimizing Bias in the Workplace

  • Introduce mandatory unconscious bias awareness for everyone making recruitment decisions
  • Take action to raise awareness of your own biases (e.g. by taking the Harvard Implicit Association Test) and be alert to the biases of others working with you e.g. in making promotion decisions
  • Ask open questions of women in your team about their ambition for next steps to avoid making any assumptions
  • Make sure your high-potential women all have mentors, coaches or sponsors
  • Make sure women are in your network of ‘go to’ people
  • Use language and images on websites, social media and advertising that appeal to women and men
  • Ensure all recruitment panels include visible gender diversity
  • Require shortlisted candidates to include at least one female candidate or explain why not

More resources on this topic:

Addressing Unconscious Bias Video by McKinsey & Company:

Harvard Implicit Association Tests:

GS Photo 2011 (3)Dr. Gillian Shapiro is an expert on diversity, inclusion and inclusive leadership. Over the last twenty years, she has helped many private and public sector organizations across Europe and the world understand what diversity really means to their organizations and derive value from putting inclusion at the heart of everything they do. Gillian co-runs the Inclusive Leadership Network with over 100 member organizations from across the private and public sectors. She is an associate consultant to WISE, a campaign to promote women in science, technology and engineering, she has judged several diversity awards and is the diversity and inclusion advisor to the BBC Trust. Gillian has a Bachelor degree in Business Management. Her PhD focused on the career development of women into senior leadership roles. Her recent clients include BAE Systems, BAM, Citi, Fujitsu, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, HS2, Virgin and Worldpay.