How did you get into the logistics industry?
I think the easiest explanation is that “I fell into it”. A little embarrassing but when I speak to others it seems this is how many people in the industry started out.
I didn’t really enjoy school and was determined to get out to work as soon as I could. My parents both instilled work ethic into myself and my 2 siblings so the conditions were set “find a full time job, which could serve as the starting block to a career or go to college.” The later wasn’t an option for me, so I scouted the local recruitment agencies and found a role at UPS in the customs department.
What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced to get where you are today?
It sounds harsh, but I have to say my family.
I knew to progress my career I had to go into London. This wasn’t an option for me in the early days as I had small children and I wanted and needed to be about for them. Although I worked full time, staying local meant I could be there to collect them from the childminder on time almost every night. Childcare and the London transport system don’t work well together, so I worked my way around logistics locally while my family was young and as soon as they were old enough to be out of childcare and responsible enough for me to risk being stuck on a train, I headed into London to start to really progress my career.
What do you like about working in the logistics industry?
I have been fortunate enough to have experience of working in many sectors and have met and worked with a wide variety of people. In this ever-changing environment, logistics is both intellectually challenging and also very real and practical.
The logistics sector is very labour intensive too, which means there are huge teams to be managed which is great if you’re passionate about people. Really efficient logistics is like a secret weapon that gives companies a competitive advantage. That’s the part of my job I love the most, using brains and pragmatism to be part of a winning team. I am always learning new techniques and getting fresh ideas. I am now in a position where I can use my contacts and industry knowledge not only to develop and implement new working practices, but also to drive further growth into an already successful and fast growing business.
What qualities do you feel are required to succeed in this industry?
To reach the top of your game in any industry, dedication is a necessity. I’m a strong believer in self-development, and throughout my career, I have strived to gain as much knowledge as possible, through reading, training courses, and generally asking questions. I’d say that I’ve taken something from every bit of training that I have undertaken, which has really helped to broaden my knowledge and my character.
With the logistics industry, adopting a flexible approach really is key. It’s certainly not a 9 – 5 industry, but that suits me. The dynamic, ever changing environment makes this an exciting industry to be involved in.
What have been your career highlights?
I can’t pinpoint any one role or project as being any more special than another. I’m lucky enough to have worked across a range of organisations though, from freight forwarders, to suppliers and retailers, which has greatly assisted me in being in a position to offer a complete overview of the supply chain provision. This enables me to draw on my experiences, in offering the best solutions for clients, to ensure maximum efficiency for their logistics requirements.
Have you ever considered changing career path?
No. Even though I kind of ‘fell’ into the industry, since I did, I’ve never looked back. Once I started working in logistics, I developed a passion for the industry and was driven to progress my career.
What encouraged you to join the team at Velta?
Having sat on the other side of the fence as Head of Logistics for a fashion brand using Velta as 3PL, it was a great insight to the work Velta were doing in logistics and 3PL management. As I said earlier I have been very fortunate with my career to date, and when I was first approached about joining Velta I was unsure if this was the right “next step”. I am an avid list writer, so I wrote a pros and cons list of what I like and dislike most about my job and realised the warehouse management was the part I have most enjoyed.
What does a general day at Velta entail for you?
Every day is very different. From meeting clients (potential and existing), working with the team to drive efficiencies or to assist the team with solving problems. I am great believer in building a team of future leaders. So when the latest challenge hits down, I like to engage the team on how they think we should solve it.
How do you feel about working in a male dominated industry?
I genuinely don’t think of it like that. Whether you are male or female, I feel that, as long as you get the job done, you can succeed in this industry. I’ve never experienced any negativity in my role due to my gender. I’d say that personality traits have a bigger impact on whether you carve a successful career in logistics, than whether you are male or female.
The emphasis is upon the efficiency of the supply chain when it comes to any business within retail or manufacturing so I’d say that you need to be strong willed and thick skinned to manage a logistics department. On the other hand, you also need to have empathy and understand that all members of your team are individuals. Being fair but firm, and bringing out the best in your team is pivotal to not only meeting, but exceeding customer expectations and achieving growth of your department.
What advice would you offer to other women looking to enter the supply chain and logistics industry?
Do it, Be bold! It can be really rewarding. Its hard work, and still a male dominated industry but every day there is something different going on, and new challenges to conquer.
What is your future ambition?
To further build on the strong team here at Velta and to grow the 3PL to its full potential, then I can go to my MD and ask for the budget to open our next site.