What is your current position in the logistics industry?
I am currently the Team Leader at CEVA Logistics in South Sudan, working with a team of 12 people. I’m entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that CEVA in South Sudan meets the operational obligations to its clients and we deliver a lean commercial model. Our key clients in the country are Aid and Relief organizations and clients in the Infrastructure/Energy Projects.
How long have you been working in this industry?
I have been in the industry for over 10 years now.
Did a trigger make you choose this industry or get to your current position in the sector?
What triggered me was the fact that my role in the supply chain was so important that if I did not get it right, the whole chain would be negatively affected. This was very important to me; I was in a unique position to make a positive difference in the lives of ordinary people This is something that’s close to my heart.
This therefore greatly triggered and interested me more into the industry.
The dynamic nature of the industry too kept me interested; I learnt with time that every job was different, allowing me to learn something new every day.
Could you describe a challenge you had to face being a woman in a still male-dominated industry?
When I was posted to South Sudan in the year 2013, I was a young woman in a male dominated industry. I remember having a verbal and written conversations with sub-contractors. The key challenge was to manage and persist in rough contractual negotiations, especially payments. I had to stand my ground and I had to polish my bargaining skills.
I was often referred to as Mr. Peace in emails as it was difficult to envisage that a woman was managing this role and many were often surprised when I showed up in person, thinking I was a personal assistant or a secretary of a manager who was running late.
With that said, I would like to thank our leaders for the work environment that has been created to champion our empowerment and challenge us to continuously self-improve and take on more challenging roles that were previously often considered as a role for men.
In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions about women in logistics?
One of the biggest misconceptions about women in logistics is that they are not strong enough to take quick and firm decisions. The other misconception is that women in the logistics industry can only handle administrative work, and not leadership roles.
However, over the years, I have seen more and more women proficiently take on leadership roles as well as jobs that were traditionally and popularly known as reserved for men, for example, long hauler driving.
I am therefore confident that the numbers will continue to grow and improve to an equity level.
What traits or actions are key for women who want to succeed in supply chain?
Did you have a role model as a little girl? Who was it?
Yes. My very hardworking, caring - and yet tenacious - mother, was my role model.
How is CEVA attracting women to the sector?
CEVA has provided an equal opportunity platform for everyone to be a part of the leadership and different supply chain opportunities available.
What could be improved?
A universal Internal Child Care Service would be one of the very good initiatives for women/mothers.
Many women in the industry are also mothers; for those with very young children, they leave infants as young as only three months in the hands of nannies, far away from their workstations in order to return to work. With this kind of arrangement, I believe women are not as productive at work as they would be if they had a nursery in the workstations.
If an Internal Child Care Service is provided, the mothers will comfortably and happily deliver at the jobs, as they take short breaks to spend with their children.
Secondly, as the supply chain continues to evolve, I believe we can improve upon work life balance for the women given they are predominantly home caregivers and taking on more responsibilities at home and at work. This certainly takes a heavy toll on them.
With the global fight against mental health issues, this area needs to be paid attention to in the supply chain industry.
Why do you think women are key in logistics? What do they already improve in the industry?
Women are natural caregivers and mentors thus making great team leaders.
Women easily build and keep relationships; they are highly results oriented thus making great business developers and customer caregivers.
Why does the logistics industry represent great career opportunities for women?
We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to supply chain and logistics, especially in Africa. There is a lot of potential for growth, challenges, and leadership opportunities, which I believe presents a cocktail of great career opportunities for women as team leaders, software developers, relationship managers, business developers, etc.
What advice would you give to women interested in working in logistics?
To the women out there that are thinking of working in the logistics industry, I would strongly recommend to them to seize the opportunity. It will introduce you to a completely new world of an ever evolving and great challenging environment that offers prospects for constant growth.
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