WISE Symposium honors supply chain legends and looks to the future


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The fourth annual WISE Future Leader Symposium kicks off October 6-7 at the Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. The event, themed “A Wiser Future for the Supply Chain”, will celebrate the pioneering women who paved the way for women in supply chain management, and many industry legends will be present.

WISE, which stands for Women Impacting Supply Chain Excellence, will include keynote speakers: Shelley Simpson, president of JB Hunt Transport Services; Kathryn McLay, President and CEO of Sam’s Club; Amiee Bayer-Thomas, Ulta Beauty Supply Chain Manager; and Debbie Hodges, Vice President of Supply Chain at Walmart.

About 115 students and professors from 24 universities registered for the symposium. Attendees will hear panels of industry experts discuss a variety of topics related to supply chain challenges such as sustainability and technology, how to navigate a successful supply chain career, importance of mentors and sponsors, and much more. Breakout sessions will discuss key takeaways and how to increase diversity, particularly with respect to gender, among supply chain students.


A new addition to this year’s event is the WISE Legends ceremony, an inaugural women’s hall of fame showcasing 14 women in supply chain management. Winners range from pioneers in transportation to women who have influenced the diversity and success of today’s supply chain industry. The list of winners was compiled and studied by an inter-university collaboration of female supply chain students. A new class of legends will be introduced in upcoming symposium events.

This year’s winners include:

  • Johnelle Hunt, Co-Founder, JB Hunt Transport Services
  • Helen Walton, business advisor and wife of Walmart founder Sam Walton
  • Edwina Justus, Locomotive Engineer, Union Pacific
  • Luella Bates, first commercial truck driver, Four Wheel Drive Auto Company
  • Mary Elizabeth Walton, 19th-century inventor of anti-pollution devices for railroads
  • Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan, first female trucking company owner, Drennan Truck Line
  • Shelley Simpson, President, JB Hunt Transport Services
  • Ann Drake, Founder of AWESOME and Former President and CEO of DSC Logistics
  • Kathryn McLay, CEO, Sam’s Club
  • Kathryn Wengel, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Supply Chain Officer, Johnson & Johnson
  • Judith McKenna, President and CEO, Walmart International
  • Judy McReynolds, President, President and CEO, ArcBest
  • Rosalind Brewer, CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance
  • Barbara Melvin, President and CEO, Port Authority of South Carolina


The symposium is sponsored by several companies and individuals:

  • Named Sponsor – Shelley Simpson
  • Gold Sponsors – JB Hunt Transportation Services, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Debbie Hodges
  • Silver Sponsors – Clorox, Uber Freight, USA Truck
  • Bronze Sponsors – ArcBest, BNSF Logistics, Brenda and Douglas Keiser, Dollar General, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Tyson Foods, Ulta Beauty
  • Educator Sponsor – ISCEA (International Supply Chain Education Alliance)


Participants come from supply chain programs across the country. Faculty and students attending the symposium include:

  • University of Arkansas
  • Auburn University
  • Brigham Young University
  • The Citadel
  • Colorado State University
  • University of Southern Georgia
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Texas Christian University
  • Howard University
  • Iowa State University
  • Lehigh University
  • Texas University of Technology
  • University of Central Arkansas
  • Marquette University
  • University of Miami
  • University of South Florida
  • UT-Dallas
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • University of Michigan
  • Mississippi State University
  • Western Michigan University
  • University of Wisconsin

For more information about JB Hunt Transport’s Supply Chain Management department, please visit supplychain.uark.edu.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A offers an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to the Arkansas economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and employment development, discovery through research and creative activity while providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation ranks the U of A among the few American colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. US news and world report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. Learn how the U of A is working to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.


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