Connecting, inspiring and empowering women to lead the way

Carina Tyralla - Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management, EMEA at Adidas

25 May 2021 15:38 | Anonymous

Interviewed by Aurélie Doré

Meet our Member, Carina Tyralla, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management, EMEA, at Adidas. In this interview, she talks about her vision of supply chain and desire to change perceptions of this field, how her leadership style has evolved over the years, and why giving back to the young generation of female leaders is crucial for her.

Can you describe your current role as Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management for EMEA at Adidas and which aspects of the job you enjoy the most?

My team and I look after the European, Russia/CIS and Emerging Markets supply chain organisation at Adidas group. We are responsible for ensuring the best in-class fulfilment based on marketplace needs, which includes purchasing and order management through to final mile distribution for all channels, whilst driving strategic transformation programmes. It covers the whole chain, from buying to delivering the products to our various consumers and customers.

I recently took on the Russia/CIS and Emerging Markets which elevated the role from a diversity standpoint. Today, I have a truly diverse team in place, covering eleven different time zones! Since we cannot travel, I had the pleasure to virtually meet my team: it was great seeing their energy, their dedication, their ideas. They really want to make a difference, which is what drives me as well: elevating supply chain, moving it away from its image as a pure cost centre, having a cross-centred approach, focusing on partnership organisation, making sure that we deliver value to our customers and consumers. I look forward not just to executing the work but to bringing in innovative ideas and reaching the next level.

You were recently featured as part of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digital, the World's No.1 ‘Digital Community’ for the Procurement, Supply Chain & Logistics industry, celebrating female executives who are having a profound impact on global supply chain development. Congratulations! What does this recognition mean to you?

What an honour, it was so unexpected! I was excited, I felt privileged to be recognised for my work. It is powerful to be part of a great network of women. I hope I am making a difference in reshaping the supply chain industry, moving it away from stereotypes. I do what I do because I am passionate about it, and I strongly believe that this sector is much more than just delivering products to consumers. We create moments, we foster inspiration, and we can make a difference to someone’s life. Imagine that you forgot your Mum’s birthday: you order a gift online, and it is our mission to make sure that it will be delivered on time so that you can celebrate this event with your family.

Collaborating in such a network will make us all stronger. We can learn and benefit from each other, we can share best practices. It is great to have another community I can rely on. One woman from the network already reached out and suggested we organise a virtual gathering to get to know each other: this is where the power and inspiration start! Being appointed is great but it is only the beginning: we need to make something out of it, and I hope the next Top 100 will be open to all without distinction around gender.

We create moments, we foster inspiration,
and we can make a difference into someone’s life!

There is still a misrepresentation of women in executive business roles, especially within the field of supply chain management, with men holding 75-80% of jobs in the supply chain. Was it difficult for you to jump in the industry? Do you think we need more women in supply chain and logistics to close the gender gap, and do you feel that recruiting female talent is an issue?

Ending up in this industry was pure chance. When I finished my studies, the only thing that was clear was my desire to work with people internationally. My professional journey started in an agency, surrounded by men smoking, yelling, and shouting in different languages into their phones! When I walked in, as a nineteen-year-old girl from a village, everyone was radio silent and basically stared at me, probably thinking what the heck is she doing here! That experience shaped my career. I learned that if you bring the right mindset and attitude, everyone is supportive and helpful. When I joined the logistics and supply chain team of Adidas a few years later, I was still often the only woman in the room. But it has never been a problem for me, since I’ve known this environment from an early stage.

I recently rejoined Adidas after being with Tom Tailor for four and a half years, and there are many more women around than there were ten years ago. In general, we lack talent when it comes to supply chain, and i in particular female talents. It starts with the recruitment process: we usually ask for people with supply chain backgrounds to take on these roles, but, because there are not yet many women that have this, applications from them are limited. The second challenge lies with us as women: we often suffer from imposter syndrome, believe we are not good enough, that we are missing something to even apply. We need to be more courageous, to speak up about what we want, and recognise that we have something valuable to offer.

As a manager, I need to be flexible. I’ve always focused on mindset and attitude when  hiring people, because to me you can learn everything. But our job descriptions are still asking for ten years of experience in supply chain, so maybe we should reconsider this habit, because doing so is part of the solution. The good news is that I currently have a decent balance between women and men talents in my team, which means there are plenty of talents who are keen to take on responsibilities!

As women, we often suffer from imposter syndrome,
believe we are not good enough, that we are
missing something…We need to be more courageous,
to speak up about what we want, and recognize that
we have something valuable to offer.

You joined WIL Europe as a Member last year. Why is it important for you to be involved in a network dedicated to female leaders?

I always considered myself as being privileged, thanks to my strong personal network. My family and my friends always support whatever idea I come up with, except when I wanted to try volleyball - everyone was convinced that it wasn’t a good idea. I went for it anyway but I must admit that they were right! From a professional point of view, I never had a masterplan. I was never the kind of person to plan my career for the next ten years. But I always had a mentor or direct manager who believed in me and gave me opportunities to prove myself.

Unfortunately, not everyone is that privileged, with a supportive personal and professional network. This is why I am trying to give back, to help future leaders believe in themselves. As I mentioned, recruiting female talents in supply chain is still a challenge. Some of them may be resistant because they do not understand it fully, and by sharing my experience I want to encourage others to give it a try. It is such a cool area, where innovative minds are required! Networks like WIL can help foster  a better reputation of supply chain, but mainly support women to believe in themselves.

Network like WIL can help foster a better reputation
of supply chain, but mainly support women
to believe in themselves.

Managing a team effectively requires vision, communication, and diverse skills. As a Senior Vice President, what is your leadership style and how has it evolved since the beginning of your career? What advice would you give to your younger self and to other women hoping to become the next generation of female leaders?

I consider myself to be a rather balanced leader: I try not to over-dramatise things. There might be the worst crisis going on, but you still need to have a laugh!

Honesty is what I value the most, in my professional but personal life as well. The most important thing is to create a trusting environment. I always say that it is totally fine to make mistakes - we are human beings. But we need to talk about it and find a way to fix it as a team. Without that environment of trust and acknowledgement of what is working and not, I do not see how we can grow. It is never about blaming someone for not performing, but more about teaming up and finding solutions to grow together.

Diversity and inclusion are important to me, not only gender but also in terms of age, geography, and culture. I believe in collaboration, so let’s bring our different strengths together and figure out what the best solution is. I’m not in favour of silo decision-making and it is our responsibility as leaders to bring diversity of thoughts together to ease the process. My team are the experts: I want to hear from them, all of them. Any decision is better than no decision at all, even if sometimes it feels  like trying to read a crystal ball.

My style of leadership has definitively adapted over the years. My younger self was more on the introverted side, wondering what value she could bring to the table in front of all these experienced people. But I learned that everyone has an opinion, and as loud as people can seem, it is important to raise your voice, speak up, share your opinion. Because if you don’t, others might take decisions that you think are the wrong ones.

The advice I would give is to the next generation of female leaders is to join the conversation: do not stay on the sidelines!

Video edited by Nadège Serrero

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