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Lisa Fenton. Success Strategies for Getting Back to Work.

Girl Warrior Stories| Views: 1774

Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, Certified Supply Chain Management Professional, Lisa Fenton, with over 10 years experience in supply chain, operations and marketing, and tirelessly championing women back to work and inspiring them to negotiate beyond salary. Lisa enjoyed twelve years with her three boys at home in Bowmanville before going back to work. Passionate about case studies, she took the challenge of getting back to work and used the problem solving formula and gap analysis to map her own journey of getting back into the workforce. With an attitude of there is always a way she takes situations and turns them into opportunities. At the start of her journey with a new suit, new haircut and a couple hundred of her own networking cards and a free pass she attended a sustainability event and in networking met the editor of purchasingb2b and published not her first article – Making a Comeback but also published a second one – Hitting the Comeback Trail. In 2018 she has been speaking to groups and sharing strategies and encouraging others on how much of a difference it makes to negotiate not just salary but to negotiate extras by expanding the pie of their compensation packages. Lisa is currently inspiring others to create value from their personal gifts to create choices and opportunities. Lisa is speaking at the One Woman Fearless Women’s Summit in Saskatoon May 19, 2018.

What makes you a Girl Warrior?      

I’m bringing awareness to girls and women to take action and negotiate not only their salaries but also the extra forms of compensation when negotiating their first career job or their salary review. I enjoy sharing back-to-work techniques and strategies with others. 

Why did you decide to re-enter the workforce after 12 years at home raising your three boys?

Our boys were becoming more independent and the youngest one was going to school full time. It was time to continue my career and enable our family’s future. So much happens in the business world every day, which makes twelve years seem like a lifetime!

Give us the Coles Notes on the Supply Chain field and what were some of the biggest changes in that industry during your time away?

Supply Chain professionals help companies achieve a competitive advantage.

Supply Chain went through six major movements from the 80’s to 00’s: Creation Era, Integration Era, Globalization Era, Specialization Era – Outsourcing manufacturing and distribution, Specialization Era 2 – Supply Chain Management as a service, Supply Chain Management 2.0.

When I left the workforce in the late 90’s we didn’t even have the Internet we only had a fax machine. I would say that changes in technology were very significant while I was out of the workforce. I had previously taken computer courses in College and had also used various programs at work before I had left to stay home. I was not intimidated by learning new programs.

What was your strategy for getting back into the workforce?

I created a game plan and gap analysis with a one-year timeframe:

  1. I researched local companies that were doing well.
  2. What jobs were those companies posting for?
  3. What were the 3 common skills those companies were looking for?
  4. What skills did I currently have?
  5. How could I upgraded my skills quickly and most cost effectively?
  6. Could I find someone to watch the boys before and after school?
  7. If this caretaker was on the bus route could I get the boys added to the bus?
  8. I volunteered to get a current reference.
  9. I made myself more professional by purchasing a suit, getting a haircut and created my own networking card
  10. I reached out to former bosses and colleagues and requested they support me as a reference
  11. I sent each of them my current resume and cover letter
  12. I attended industry events and networked

Why is it important to map out a plan?

Doing a gap analysis along with a game plan allowed me to understand the current business environment as well the shortcomings that I had to becoming employable. It helped me focus on my greatest gaps and let me prioritize those gaps first.

Tell us about the first sustainability event you attended. How was that a game-changer?

The first sustainability event I attended after being home for 12 years took place at the Weston Harbour Hotel in Toronto. I was almost at the one-year timeframe I had given myself to get back in the workforce. I bought a new suit, got a haircut, created my own networking card and printed around 100 cards and bought a Go Train ticket and hopped on the train. For the next 45 minutes I told myself you can do this and talked myself into meeting as many people as I could to find an opportunity or possibly hear of a future opportunity.

I stood back from the entrance and looked at the large doors and groups of people entering. I took a deep breath and told myself I look just like them and I can do this. I got my pass and entered into the large conference room full of attendees and presenters and sponsors. I proceeded to meet as many people as I could and one lady I spoke with was very interested. She said I love your story and would I consider writing an article. I am the editor of purchasingb2b. I accepted and could barely sit still the whole train ride home. My article, Making a Comeback, was published a few months later and a few years later I published another article, Hitting the Comeback Trail. This experience made me realize when you step out of your comfort zone amazing things happen.

What has been your biggest “comeback” challenge?  

My biggest challenge since re-entering the workforce has been not becoming complacent once I have a job and championing my way from an entry level position nine years ago to the management position I’m in today.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

Realizing that keeping balance is challenging and choosing not to do things helps. Moving from an entry-level position into a management position is not easy. I kept moving forward by adding value to my skill set both personally and professionally.

I enrolled in and completed the Certified Supply Chain Management Professional (CSCMP) Designation offered by SCMAO. It’s offered part time and includes workshops and seminars, modules and an in-residence week component as well as a final written exam based on any of the information learned over the three years.

I have found strategies to make our department more efficient and found yearly savings as well. I kept an ongoing summary of all improvements and savings and write my own performance review for my boss.

There are not many women Supply Chain Managers. I am the first senior leader in our company ever and also I work in a male dominated industry, which has also been challenging. That being said, I got to where I am today because of my results and my male leadership recognized it.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

There is always a way, focus on your strengths more than your deficiencies.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration to either enter the workforce for the first time, re-enter after a gap, or switch gears and change fields? What do we need to know “for sure”?

Don’t just send out hundreds of resumes to every company; target companies that match your interests or skills. Take time to research the current local business environment and find the common skills most are listing. Build a habit of continuous learning and self-development; it never ends. Do a gap analysis and create a game plan with a timeline. Volunteer to get current references. Present yourself as a professional. Build a network of support; relationships are everything. Break free from the myths and mindset that keeps us trapped. Make the best situation even better. Rejection is normal, don’t take it personally or dwell on it, move on to the next opportunity.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s) and why?

Here is a list of books by some of my Girl Warrior heroes who have shared useful tips and strategies:

Sheryl Sandberg: Lean In – Empowering Women

Tara Mohr: Playing Big – Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message

Gretchen Rubin: The Happiness Project, Better Than Before

Arianna Huffington: Thrive – Need to redefine what it means to be successful in today’s world

Hannah Alper: Momentus: Small Acts, Big Change – Canadian Motivational Speaker

Suzy Welch: Suzy & Jack Welch – The Real-Life MBA

Tiffany Pham: Mogul – Creator of Mogul a platform that reaches millions of women

What’s next? 

I am working on self-publishing a book about my journey from being a stay at home mom to becoming a Certified Supply Chain Manager, the first female senior leader in my company.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Speaking around the world and continuing to share my journey and message to young ladies and women about the importance of negotiation.

What message would you put on a T-shirt that describes you perfectly?  

Move Forward – no matter what they say!

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