3 Logistics Professionals Discuss International Women's Day
This year, for International Women's Day we are celebrating our female authors and showcasing their industry knowledge.
We asked three of our Logistics, Supply Chain and Operations authors about their experiences as a woman in business, including what prevailing stereotypes need to be broken, and what advice can be shared with young women entering the world of work.
Lydia Bals - Professor for Supply Chain and Operations Management
Co-author of Supply Chain Finance
"IWD is a nice reminder to think about fellow ladies and oneself with a sense of community and our position in society and how far we've come (in the Western world)."
Catherine Milner - Director, C2MC Ltd
Co-author of The Inventory Toolkit
"IWD demonstrates to others that women's lives and careers are increasingly varied and that the possibilities are enormous. It is a moment in time to reassess our lives and careers."
Wendy Tate - Professor of Supply Chain Management
Co-author of Supply Chain Finance
"I think that it is great that women are getting more recognition both nationally and internationally!"
Q: What have your experiences been as a woman in business?
Generally positive, but one needs to be relatively assertive to succeed in the corporate world.
I have always been one of the very few women in my discipline of supply chain management. It was not uncommon to be the only female in most meetings, and with that came a lot of challenges. The glass ceiling is still there but we are making some headway. Women are still generally paid less than men for the same job, but we are making progress.
There is still a lot of exclusionary issues that we need to deal with – women need to learn that many decisions are made by men in informal settings (i.e, at the golf course) and that men have much better informal networks, and often women are not invited to be part of those networks. I have met women that learned to golf simply because they wanted to be a part of those discussions.
Q: In what ways have you led change in the workplace?
During reorganization projects, I always planned dedicated change management support, being aware of its importance, but at the same time aware that it takes specific experts to handle this really well.
You can never know how others will be inspired by you. Have time to listen and talk. I was given great opportunities and am told that the work I did influenced other people and led to changes in the workplace.
By teaching women about supply chain management and what a career in this industry is like. I have developed mentoring opportunities for supply chain students with women that are part of the supply chain in various companies. I also co-founded a women’s group that focuses specifically on empowering female students in supply chain management.
Q: What's the biggest risk you've taken in your career?
Taking a higher management position with personnel responsibility for 10 employees at the end of my 20s, with peers mostly in their 40s or around 50… who obviously had a LOT more experience than I did. It was QUITE a leap and stressful at the beginning in particular, but it worked out well.
A long career break for children. By staying in touch with colleagues and keeping up with developments I had an easy re-entry into a career.
Going back to get a PHD after having a career in a field that is predominantly male-dominated.
Q: What stereotypes/assumptions of women in business would you like to see broken?
That we as women are assumed to be “overly emotional”. I have met a lot of men who were far more emotional than me…
Women do not have to behave in the same as men and that this is a tremendous benefit to businesses. Women are assertive, yes, but rarely aggressive – people still confuse the two. Asking questions and getting input and ideas is strong leadership – don’t get confused that this trait is due to a lack of knowledge or indecisiveness. And women have a tremendous sense of humour!
Women don’t need to look like a businessman to be business-like. I would like to see more equal pay for equal work, and more women promoted to senior positions. Women are often perceived as being successful because they did something particular to get there (or knew someone) – why can’t you just be good?
I’d also like to break the assumption that if you have a career, you are not a good mother. Single men are called ‘bachelors’ but single women are called ‘spinsters’. Unmarried women have been told that being single will “allow you to spend more time on the job”.
Q: Which women inspire you?
Vandana Shiva. Find out why… wikipedia.org/wiki/Vandana_Shiva
So many, all the time! Helen Milner OBE, my sister and energetic CEO of Goof Things Foundation. She’s an extremely caring person. Gill Milner (my mother); Dr Celine Martin and Professor Jan Godsell at Warwick University; Sam Pink Fire Chief, West Midlands; Jane Austen.
Q: What advice would you give to women entering the world of business today?
Be yourself, feel free to pursue your goals, but keep a cooperative attitude – teamwork is KEY!
Your path is unique, tread it confidently and with happiness. Look outwards towards the world at all times. Be kind to yourself and to others. Remember that your measure of success is the one that matters.
Have courage and be kind. One thing I have learnt is that women really need to support each other – we are our own worst enemy. We need to be able to compliment and build up other women instead of competing against each other.
Click here to see more articles and videos from our leading female authors.