Women In Supply Chain Series: Justina Chiang

Meet Justina Chiang 

In this Q&A session, we dive into the career journey and insights of Justina Chiang, a seasoned supply chain industry expert with over two decades of experience in various supply chain roles at both large companies and start-ups. 

Justina is currently the COO at Nara Organics, a soon-to-launch brand that produces infant formula based on organic, grass-fed whole milk.

Justina shares valuable perspectives on the supply chain’s evolution over the years and her experiences in the industry—from the challenges and rewards of building a brand from scratch to what she’s learned about leading teams and balancing work with being a parent. 

Q: How did you get into the supply chain industry?

My journey into supply chain management began unexpectedly during my time at the University of Michigan.

I was initially pursuing a path in business, but then shifted gears midway and ventured into industrial and operations engineering, which led me into supply chain. 

From there, I’ve worked in supply chains across various companies, from General Electric to startups like Harry’s, S’well, and now Nara Organics.

Q: What is the biggest shift you’ve seen in the supply chain from the beginning of your career to now?

The most significant shift occurred over the last five years, with a notable increase in general awareness about the supply chain.

Previously, the concept of supply chain was often overlooked or misunderstood. Twenty years ago, no one talked about the supply chain or thought too much about how or where things were made.

Now, more people recognize its importance and the potential it holds for making a substantial impact on the bottom line.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing brands in supply chain today, and how can they overcome them?

One major challenge, especially for startups, is the tendency to de-prioritize supply chain management in favor of other business aspects. 

To overcome this, it’s crucial for brands to integrate supply chain strategies into their overall business plan from the outset and allocate resources accordingly. 

If you set up your supply chain really well from the beginning, you will have a very successful business, including great product quality and on-time delivery. 

But if you think of your supply chain as a secondary thought or decide it’s not worth spending some resources on it up front, you can‌ mess up your business pretty severely.

Hiring individuals with supply chain expertise and having them explain to the business leadership how things can work better with some planning, systems investment, and deep-dive analysis can also significantly mitigate potential supply chain disruptions and reduce overall business costs.

Q: Why do you think there are so few female leaders in supply chain?

Women fill only 26% of C-suite roles in supply chain.
2023 Women In Supply Chain Report, Gartner

While the ‌representation of women in the supply chain workforce has increased, there’s still a gap, particularly in leadership roles. 

However, I’m optimistic about the upward trend in female representation, which I attribute to more women entering the field initially and then gradually advancing into leadership positions over time.

Q: How could brands attract gender diversity in their business?

Tracking diversity statistics, setting goals, and fostering an inclusive culture are crucial steps in diversifying talent in supply chain and within companies. 

Additionally, making job descriptions more gender-neutral and encouraging individuals to apply even if they don’t meet all criteria can help attract a more diverse pool of candidates.

Q: What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of building a brand from scratch?

The most challenging aspect is undoubtedly the process of establishing your brand and earning brand recognition.

It’s not easy to get your name out there; doing that takes a lot of time, effort, and money. But then witnessing the brand‌ grow and scale is incredibly rewarding.

Q: What was the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

One valuable piece of advice is to embrace uncertainty and not be afraid to take risks. 

Running a business is like a roller coaster ride—you can be up and down in the same hour. 

So you have to think of overcoming the challenge as part of the fun, and you can’t be scared just to hit challenges head-on.

Q: What role has mentorship played in your career?

My biggest dedicated mentors were in high school and college. They encouraged me to develop my leadership skills and do extracurriculars outside academics.

Now, I have a different “mentor,” depending on the topic I’m thinking about. It’s like building a mini Board of Directors for yourself.

For example, if I have an issue with distribution and logistics, I will reach out to my peers or previous managers who might be able to provide advice.

Or, if it’s something to do with finance, I’ll reach out to my finance-focused mentor. And so forth. 

You don’t always have to have an official mentor, either. For me, it’s having someone you can call when you’re having a certain kind of problem or need help breaking through a mental block.

Q: What is something about your career journey that you’re most proud of?

I will always be proud of jumping from one of the world’s biggest companies, General Electric, and deciding to work for a small company instead, Harrys.

I went from a place where they had a lot of resources and a lot of folks who‌ did the same work as me and could coach and mentor me to a place where I became the leader of a small function in a company with just 25 people.

I am proud of my work at Harry’s and the team I built there. I will be forever grateful to the Harry’s team for giving me the opportunity and experience because that catapulted me into the startup space and the rest of my career thus far. 

Q: What is your current personal or professional goal?

Balancing work and family life has become my priority since becoming a parent. 

When I didn’t have kids, I could spend that extra three hours at night working and feel zero guilt, or if I had to blow off dinner with a friend, they would understand. I had a never-ending pool of time where I could work and dedicated my energy to work.

Now, having two very young kids, I don’t have this luxury, and my goals have shifted to becoming more efficient at work while achieving ambitious goals and, at the same time, being present for my kids when they need it. 

It makes me laugh because my younger self would never understand this concept. But I’d like to think that most new parents can relate to the challenges of balancing work and parenting. 

We’re all doing our best and trying to enjoy the ride, even with all its ups and downs. 

About Justina:

Justina Chiang has a deep passion for entrepreneurship, building teams, and driving change.

A leader in supply chain operations for more than 20 years, her experience ranges from large corporations to pre-launch start-ups. 

Justina started her career at GE Healthcare, where she gained a deep understanding of forecasting, inventory management, and fulfillment on a team responsible for over $3 billion in inventory and revenue. 

From there, Justina embarked on her start-up journey at Harry’s as their first operations hire, where she built the logistics and forecasting teams and set up processes that enabled Harry’s to scale operations internationally and launch in retail. 

Following Harry’s, Justina joined S’well, where she implemented processes to make the company more efficient during a time of explosive revenue growth, in addition to running their global logistics team.

Justina is currently the COO of Nara Organics, a soon-to-launch organic infant formula company with the first certified organic whole milk, no-palm, no-soy infant formula in the U.S.  

Justina has a Masters and Bachelors of Science in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan.

Connect with Justina on LinkedIn and follow Nara Organics on Instagram.

Expecting a baby? Download Nara Baby Tracker for free. 

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