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Amazing Women In Supply Chain: Jeanne Risley

What started as a purchasing internship in high school transformed into a lifelong passion for blending technology, analytics and supply chain.

title graphic with picture-jeanne-risley

Jeanne Risley’s foray into supply chain and logistics started when she was in high school and working as an intern in Pfizer’s purchasing department. “Who would've thought a high school internship would turn into a career in logistics?” asks Risley, who is now a Logistics and IT Analyst for Ciner Resources in Atlanta. 

After her internship wrapped up, Risley worked for GE Plastics, where she worked in purchasing, IT and sourcing. “I managed sourcing for both the headquarters facility and all of our field remote sales offices for several years,” Risley said, who then worked for GE Plastics’ Global Vendor Managed Inventory (GVMI) division—which was acquired by IntelliTrans—for about 17 years.


Getting Out in Front of Issues

Today, Risley supports the Ciner team that manages transportation, supply chain, inventory and financial control across numerous locations. “We work to keep the orders moving at a steady pace,” she said, “and are constantly enhancing how we manage our business using technology.”

Using the IntelliTrans Global Visibility Platform (GVP), the team manages all reporting, dashboards and data across as a single, cohesive unit. 

“We work hand-in-hand with finance, helping them reconcile monthly billing and resolving other issues,” said Risley, who moved into her current position in February 2021. Since then, she says the department has been able to streamline its operations and gain better visibility into its transportation and logistics activity. “We’re using technology to get out in front of those issues,” she added, “versus having to react to them at the end of every month or quarter.” 

With the goal of “becoming better every day,” this Amazing Woman in Supply Chain said the IntelliTrans GVP helps her team meet that goal, generate reports faster, take quicker action and provide high levels of logistics visibility to its own customers. “A happy customer is a happy Ciner,” said Risley. “They rely on the data and want fast, accurate information, 24/7, so that’s what we focus on.”

She Gets Things Done

As she surveys the supply chain space, Risley said she doesn’t see too many women in senior or leadership positions in her specific corner of the industry. In fact, for the past 20+ years she said mostly everyone from the plant personnel to salespeople to the C-level executives have all been men. Upon reading IntelliTrans’ recent Amazing Women in Supply Chain profiles, however, she’s enthused by the number of senior-level women that have successfully paved their career paths in an industry that she loves working in. 

“It's nice to see women making that entrance,” said Risley, who sees virtually “endless” career paths for women who are interested in the field. “There are so many different paths that you can take; the road is definitely there for women.” 

For example, she said her own blending of logistics, IT and analyzing has created some great career opportunities along the way. “Rather than dealing specifically with trucking, rail or another mode,” she explained, “we’re looking at the entire supply chain, backend processes and technology that support those important activities.” 

To women who may be choosing their first jobs in supply chains or working their way up the ladder, Risley said her best piece of advice is to not be intimidated. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, she added, and boast about your accomplishments, capabilities and skill sets. “We’re all good listeners who can multitask well, which is definitely needed in the supply chain environment,” said Risley. “We can get things done.”

We Have the Technology

With the world’s supply chains facing continued disruption from the pandemic and other events, and with transportation planning becoming a core focus for many organizations, Risley said the environment is ripe for more knowledgeable, eager professionals to make their way into supply chain roles. “Companies need help balancing short supply chains and tight lead times,” she said. “It’s the perfect time to get things done.” 

Risley has brought together her education, lean Six Sigma, analytics and supply Chain knowledge at a time when supply chains are at critical levels and everyone’s main focus. Risley was an original team member of the Global Vendor Managed Inventory service that originated at GE Plastics. 

“The business still runs today after two decades. Driverless supply chains are helping businesses run efficiently and to have a new startup venture thrive after so many years is quite an accomplishment,” she says. “The team was truly ahead of its time.” 

Risley enjoys every new challenge that is put in front of her and looking forward to the next chapter in her career.