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Gwen Rogers puts WERC’s education, networking offerings to work for City of Savannah

September 1, 2017

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Gwen Rogers puts WERC’s education, networking offerings to work for City of Savannah As she approaches her March 2018 retirement after more than 30 years managing procurement, inventory and contracts for the City of Savannah’s warehouses and four municipal buildings—currently as Central Services Administrator—Gwendolyn (Gwen) W. Rogers attributes a great deal of her personal and professional growth to her association with the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC). "I initially joined WERC 25 years ago at the insistence of my director at the time. She urged me to get involved with a national warehousing and logistics organization and attend their conference as an opportunity to learn," Rogers recalls. "I walked away from my first WERC Conference with a changed outlook and a boost of self-confidence. " Although she graduated Cum Laude from what is now Savannah State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration, then spent more than 10 years in purchasing, inventory management and logistics at roofing manufacturer CertainTeed’s Savannah office before it relocated to a different state, she attributes her leadership skills development to her participation in WERC and its Conferences. "That first Conference not only motivated me, but it also gave me the tools to motivate my staff, and to mentor and develop their skills as well," she says. "Prior to that, I thought I possessed all of the resources to explore the growth possibilities for the City of Savannah. I didn't realize how much an organization like WERC could help me." Most people are surprised to learn that municipalities have warehousing and logistics needs. In fact, Rogers says at every Conference she’s often met with confusion from fellow attendees when they discover she’s with a city government. "We stock everything from toilet tissue to fire hydrants, plus anything you might imagine a city could need: traffic sign blanks, stop signs and the posts that they're on, piping and gate valves, water meters, brass fittings, bricks, cement, paint, and all kinds of hand tools, shovels, rakes and so on," she explains. "We have about 1,000 items in inventory." Being a WERC member and attending Conference has also given Rogers the opportunity to learn from industry leaders and to gain best practice ideas from some of the largest companies in the U.S. She’s applied many of those insights and metrics to her own operations. "Just like in industry, with government there are goals and objectives that drive your budget. Thanks to WERC’s educational resources I’m able to include and cite warehousing data on inventory turnover in my reports, for example," she says. "I was also able to develop a slotting scheme for my warehouse, which we did not have before." Additionally, Rogers says the networking opportunities WERC provides have been invaluable. "Through WERC I’ve been able to network with educators who shared very insightful information when we were evaluating the potential relocation of our central warehouse," she says. Rogers has also volunteered at the Conference registration desk for the past several years, which she recommends as a fantastic way to meet a lot of people in a very short period of time. "I also tend to be a reserved person," she adds, "so at every Conference I have specifically tried to step out of my comfort zone and always sit with new people at every session and meal." As a woman in a male-dominated field, Rogers says that particular networking strategy has been extremely helpful in building connections. She also advises other females entering the field to "work hard, play nice when you can and set your goals high because you can achieve anything that you want to." Both women and men wishing to excel in the field should "show up on time, dress the part you want to portray, demonstrate a desire to learn and mature, and continue to grow your knowledge of logistics practices and procedures," recommends Rogers. Although she’s retiring in a few short months, she gave serious consideration to pushing her retirement date back so she could attend one last Conference. Instead, she hopes that another staffer whom she has been mentoring will attend. "I am so blessed that the City of Savannah recognizes the important of developing and fostering growth of its employees, thereby allowing me to attend the Annual Conferences over the years," she says. "I feel certain that my colleagues will continue to participate in the organization, as it has brought so much value to our operations." # # #

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