Women in the logistics industry can balance their work and home lives and thrive in a male-dominated industry.This is according to a panel of four female logistics professionals in the USA who were responding to a series of questions put to them by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.
Managing a home and a professional career requires getting help from others. As the mother of a five-month-old child, Yem Bolumole, an associate professor of logistics at the University of North Florida, says her colleagues are understanding but she still has to complete all her assignments before she can relax.
“Pick your life partner carefully,’ says Katherine Canipelli, president of operations at PolioInc. “If you love what you do, you’ll work it out.’
After adopting her son, Tami Porter, a director of Horizon Lines, says she was able to find a good middle ground by working part-time for the first year.
“Having both a home life and work life takes sacrifices but not one that means giving up either life. Sometimes as a woman you feel like you have to make a choice , but you can have it both ways,’ she says.
On the wider work front, Porter says versatility is important in the industry and suggests that women starting out in the field should try involve themselves in a team-type project to get a better understanding of how the supply-chain functions.
Commenting on the challenges she faced as a women working on the operations side, Maureen Cunningham, vice-president of operations at Crowley Liner Services, says it was a transition when she began overseeing truckers but she stayed successful by standing her ground and treating people with respect. “If you have to go toe-to-toe with someone, then you go to toe-to-toe with them,’ she says.
On the subject of what skills women should acquire when considering a career in transport and logistics, Bolumole advises that being able to cross-train for other jobs is essential.
To this Porter says women, generally, are more comfortable with lateral moves than men because they are less concerned with prestige. “By accepting lateral moves, you could be a ‘˜sponge’ that learns about all parts of the supply-chain,’ says Porter.
Bolumole warns that women are also not as comfortable negotiating as men but that young professionals shouldn’t be too forceful either. “You can get rid of the chip on your shoulder and do great work,’ she advises.
So there you have it.