August 17, 2022
Supply Chain Career Advice From Women Who Paved the Way
From trailblazing entrepreneurs and CEOs to brilliant writers, engineers, and thought leaders, it’s no surprise that so many remarkable women leave their mark on every industry. And yet many fields, including logistics and supply chain, still lack enough female representation in their workforce.
We asked a handful of inspiring women to share first-hand experiences and advice on how and why other women should consider a career in supply chain and logistics.
Learning from Experience: Advice by Women, for Women
According to an article by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, women make up 37% of the logistics workforce, with only 14% holding executive positions. Because of this, the female narrative often gets overlooked—until now. For our first question, we asked: What is one piece of advice you have received or would like to give to women considering a career in supply chain and logistics?
If you are interested in having the opportunity to directly impact customers and business performance—supply chain is an excellent choice! There has never been more opportunity to contribute to an essential field that is integral to jobs, the economy, our way of life, and can provide critical medical supplies and feed the world.
"There is a complex, sophisticated supply chain associated with every item in your life. Supply chain professionals improve the lives of people they will never meet—simply by doing their jobs."
"You will never be bored as a logistics journalist. This industry is vastly undercovered in the mainstream press—but it touches on labor, technology, policy, economics, infrastructure, and any other imaginable topic."
Each day there is a new segment to learn about—where products are sourced, the nuances of delivery, weather, recruiting, marketing, and sustainability. If you're motivated by curiosity and have a knack for problem-solving, you'll have a high-paying, secure, and rewarding career for the rest of your life.
“I love working in an industry where I can meet people from different countries and cultures and make a difference. I always meet people with a lot of knowledge to share.”
My advice? Lean into your curiosity and build the future we all know needs to exist to
keep our planet healthy for future generations. And, if your dream job doesn't exist
today, build It yourself!
This is a very male dominated industry which can be a little intimidating. If there is an role you’d like or a promotion that you feel could be a fit, ask for it. Always put yourself out there in all that you do—even when you are uncomfortable. It will take you very far in this industry. This will pave the way for you to take strides far beyond many others in the space.
"No one will be a bigger advocate for yourself, and your career, than you – don’t worry about being perceived as demanding, emotional, intense, selfish, or unworthy … aim for what you want and ask for what you deserve."
- Mary McNelly, Senior Director, Global Logistics & Supply Chain, Crocs
"Before working in this industry, I never gave much thought to how important the supply chain is. Now I know that we connect the world, support economies, and allow small businesses to thrive! What we do matters, and working to make it easier is so rewarding!"
- Julie Zimmer, Head of Insurance, Flexport
“Whether you're working with global teams or taking advantage of opportunities to travel or work abroad, the skills you will learn in this industry working with people around the world will help you grow in your career, where ever it takes you.”
- Jennifer Colvin, Director of Operations, Track & Trace, Flexport
“Don't be afraid to be yourself! Relationships are so important in our industry and trust is one of the key ingredients. Letting your guard down and showing who you are is a great way to build that trust, whether it be with clients, business partners, or internal stakeholders.”
- Danielle Shuey, General Manager, Flexport
“Working in supply chain has allowed me to further my passion in connecting and collaborating with teams across geographies, helping clients solve complex problems, broadening my knowledge of different cultures and socioeconomic systems while promoting global trade and improving lives.”
- Jennifer Alford, Global Key Account Manager, Flexport
“Working at the intersection of logistics and tech, I feel immense gratitude to have strong female leaders and managers on the Flexport.org team and in the Freight Femmes community. Their leadership has been integral to my personal and professional development.”
- Nina Kaledin, Program Manager, Flexport.org, Flexport
Exploring Education: Prepping for a Career in Logistics
Next, we asked several supply-chain leaders: “How can people learn more and prepare for a career in supply chain/logistics?” Education remains a sticky subject for many, so we were wondering if there were other roads into supply chain or suggestions for alternative routes into the field, and our interviewees delivered.
“Raise your hand often and use your voice. Intellectual curiosity paired with grit is a powerful combination in an ever-changing, high-demand industry.”
- Beth Thorson, Head of Key Accounts, NA Sales, Flexport
“Creative solutions to our industry’s challenges can come from anyone. You don’t need to be an expert to have a fresh perspective or a good idea. Have confidence in yourself and your ability to improve your team or organization.”
- Stephanie Morgan, Client Solutions Manager, ENT, Flexport
“Supply chains are the lifeblood of world economies. You get to be at the frog line of global trade and can spot trends before everyone else does. It is a powerful and fascinating vantage point.”
- May Chu, Senior Territory Manager, Partnerships, Flexport
Looking to Make a Mark: Discovering Careers in Supply Chain
We wanted to dive into specific advice and suggestions for anyone already actively looking for work in the global supply chain and logistics industry: “What advice would you give to other women who might be interested in exploring careers in supply chain?”
“Don't let imposter syndrome stop you! A majority of people at Flexport, and in the industry, did not have supply chain backgrounds. Our success depends on diverse perspectives.”
- Courtney Kantowski, Senior Client Solutions Associate, ENT, Flexport
“Working with people from different countries and cultures is the most rewarding experience! Even with time and language barriers, I’ve enjoyed learning and collaborating with teammates from around the world."
- Kylee Marx-Booth, Senior Customer Solutions Associate, SMB, Flexport
“Keep a pulse on what's happening in the world economy. Supply chain is much more than resource management and logistics. We’re always advising customers on macroeconomic forecasts and the impact on their supply chain.”
- Rose Hogmire, Senior Client Solutions Associate, Key Accounts, Flexport
“If you’ve ever wondered how your Amazon packages get delivered so quickly, or why your couch has been backordered for 3 months, you might find supply chains interesting. The pandemic has given me a newfound respect for this industry.”
- Lindsay Quon, Product Marketing Manager, Flexport
“If you are naturally curious, always wondering what goes on in other parts of the world, enjoy connecting the dots, and love being a lifelong learner, this industry is perfect for you.”
- Darshana Rajaram, Head of Partner Network Development, Flexport
“If you want to tackle challenges that have a global impact, and you’re interested in learning from people who have diverse industry knowledge, you’ll love working in supply chain/logistics.”
- Sofia Menendez, Product Marketing Manager, Flexport
“This is a profession that women are naturally good at, where you can use critical thinking skills. Challenges are really opportunities to grow your career, and if you’re curious and adventurous that’s an advantage.”
- Somjai Kijkla, Territory Manager, Thailand, Flexport
The Future of Freight is Female
Although logistics is a male-dominated sector, numerous women have made, and will continue to make, a major impact. We're proud to partner with these inspiring trailblazers to help educate and inspire the next generation of women in supply chain.
How can companies attract more women to the world of logistics? Start by creating a supportive culture where women can thrive. Empower your leadership to make diversity and inclusion a key business priority. Push for comprehensive action in an empowering environment that is rooted in celebrating differences and transparency.
The exciting world of supply chain awaits! Check out Flexport’s careers page to explore open roles, and see how you can make your mark on the world.
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