2 min read

Is it Time for Procurement to Break Through the Glass Ceiling?

Dr. Elouise Epstein, Paula Varner, Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, Kelly Barner, Susan Walsh, Melissa Drew. Have you heard of these amazing women in procurement? If you haven’t it isn’t for their lack of expertise and accomplishments. Each in their own unique and immutable way has significantly transformed the procurement profession for the better.

Besides encouraging you to click on their names to visit their profiles on LinkedIn, the reason for this shoutout is not one born out doing the right thing – although that is a part of it. Instead, it is born of necessity.


“Digital transformation will not happen without women.” – Kevin Peesker, President, Microsoft Canada


The above quote is from a 2019 magazine article about women in procurement and how equality in all areas – especially in the C-Suite of our profession, is critical to business success. 

In this context, when Peesker talks about a company’s challenges realizing its digital potential without more women, he wasn’t offering a numerical observation as much as he was pointing out the gap between men and women in leadership roles. 

However, back in 2019, the percentage of companies with at least one woman on their leadership team was less than 30%. While a recent 2021 study from Grant Thornton reports that we have finally broken through the 30% barrier, we still have a long way to go. 

The purpose of this article is to highlight women who excel in the procurement world and bring value to their companies, clients, and our industry as a whole.


The Future is Clear (Dr. Elouise Epstein)

Dr Elouise Epstein is one of the world’s preeminent experts on digital procurement and how it affects supply chains. A renowned futurist, Elouise works with top executives and business leaders who, as she puts it, “aren’t afraid of a challenge or seeking to work with a thought partner who will enable them to “clearly” see and embrace their digital futures.


An Influential Presence (Kelly Barner)

Over the past decade, Kelly has built Buyers Meeting Point into a formidable brand of insight and influence covering the procurement world and the changes that impact the way we work as a profession. 

Her recent selection as the second most influential person on thinkers360s Top 50 Thought Leaders on Procurement list – another name we shared with you today, Melissa Drew, holds the top spot, gives testimony to the breadth of her industry reach and impact. 


Reimagine Transformation (Melissa Drew)

Speaking of Melissa Drew (see the previous section), besides holding down the top spot on the thinkers360 most influential list, she is the Associate Partner Re-Imagine Digital Transformation, Strategy & Analytics with Cognitive Solutions for IBM.

In her role at IBM, she collaborates with global companies to help them “reimagine” the digital transformation of their procurement and supply chain practices. Given that most CPOs are not satisfied with the results of their digital transformation strategies, Melissa’s expertise addresses the gap between digital promise and realization by empowering her clients to be more competitive in a “constantly changing global landscape.”


The Tip of the Iceberg

The above three individuals, including those we had mentioned in the opening paragraph, are just a few of the many women who make procurement better.

As you access their profiles and learn more about them, consider the vital role that women currently play in your organization and whether it is time for your company to “break through the glass ceiling” as these women have done. 

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