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EMBA Alum: ‘I’ve Championed Diversity Throughout My Career’
Shelley Stewart Jr. ’90 EMBA, ’16 Hon. was the first member of his family to go to college, and he went on to become a leading expert in supply chain management. He recently shared his experiences and wisdom with the University community.
April 26, 2021
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
“I found that procurement and supply chain was where my skills were suited,” he said. “I began working in communications, negotiations. I like people, so it was a really great fit, as it enabled me to work with people.”
In his nearly 20 years with the company, Stewart rose through the management ranks, holding about 10 different positions. During that time, he helped write Straight to the Bottom Line: An Executive’s Roadmap to World Class Supply Management, a book that has been called the foremost source for conveying how supply chain management reduces costs and creates value for businesses, and he earned his Executive MBA (now MBA Cohort) from the University of New Haven.
Stewart recently shared his experience, advice, and insights with current students at the University as part of the Pompea College of Business’s EMBA Speaker Series, which brings graduates of the program back to interact with current students.
Stewart rose to chief procurement officer at E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., where he reported directly to the chief executive officer in leading procurement, global sourcing, and logistics. As part of his virtual visit, he discussed the power of branding as well as balancing his career, which included frequent business travel to China and raising his young family.
“While I was in the EMBA program, I did most of my work on an airplane since I was traveling so much,” he said. “Work/life balance is something everyone has to deal with.”
‘An opportunity to lead, to deliver value’
Stewart later held senior-level supply chain and operational roles at Invensys, Raytheon Corp., and Tyco. A certified professional in supply management, he led DuPont’s $20 billion global procurement and logistics activities from 2012 to 2018, including overseeing facilities services and real estate management across the company’s global operations.
He also played a key management role in DuPont’s merger with Dow Chemical Corp. He now leads Bottom Line Advisory LLC, a boutique consulting firm focused on procurement, logistic and operational improvement.
“All of those experiences for me were learning experiences,” he said. “I learned along the way, and I had really good people working with me, as well as external resources. Sometimes you can wonder why something happened to you when you have a situation that is a mess, but for me, it was always an opportunity to lead, to deliver value, and to be sure the people working for me were being taken care of.”
‘I’ve championed diversity throughout my career’
Discussing the lessons he has learned throughout his career, Stewart reflected on the importance of lateral learning. He told students that he owns real estate in New Hampshire, years after taking the opportunity to get involved with investment property. It was a lateral learning opportunity that paid off in ways he might not have expected.
“I used to think that anytime I took on additional responsibilities I needed to get a raise or a promotion, but that’s not how I look at it now,” he said. “The things I got to do later in life are because of things I did earlier. As you move through your careers, when people suggest that you take on other assignments, volunteer to do it.”
A member of the University’s Board of Governors, Stewart is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Howard University. Passionate about fostering diversity and inclusion, he is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, which works to increase the number of African-American executives in corporate suites, boards, and leadership positions.
“Often I’m the only person who looks like me in these rooms, and I’ve championed diversity throughout my career,” said Stewart, who has been involved with The Boys and Girls Club of Trenton/Mercer County in New Jersey for many years. “I’m passionate about people, my profession, my family, and helping people. They make me who I am, and they have allowed me to have an amazing career.”