On Thursday 16th of May, I held a women in supply chain event in our Dublin office located on the Burlington Road.
The idea behind this event was to promote Supply Chain as a viable career option for women with a particular focus on logistics and warehousing which has the highest gender imbalance.
Our three key speakers on the evening were Pamela Quinn – the National Director of Kuehne + Nagel, who recently won the award for most trusted leader in Ireland from the Great Places to work survey, Susan Boylan, the Senior Operations Manager of Kepak and recently won the BFFF best Supply Chain team award, and Ruth Waring, the founder of Women in Logistics UK and the current director of Big Change.
The highly popular topic ensured the event was a sell out and it was great to see a full audience of industry professionals, junior professionals and students of supply chain. The event also proved a hit for many men who were also in attendance.
Firstly speaking about her career, Pamela Quinn went through how she climbed through the ranks in K&N from administrator to Managing Director within 18 years. Pamela focused on breaking down the preconceptions people have about the logistics industry and why many women may not be interested in pursuing a career in the sector. She spoke about her experiences in dealing with senior management as she worked her way up. Pamela thankfully feels that her career has not being stopped or hindered in anyway within a male dominated industry. She believes that her professionalism and attitude to the job and company gained the respect it deserved as she stood her ground in meetings where she would have been the only woman. As Pamela is focused within the sphere of logistics in a world leading 3pl that doesn’t actually own any trucks, she could give the audience an insight to the industry from a different angle that people may not have previously thought.
Susan went second to give an insight into her experience. Unlike Pamela, Susan has always been involved in the hands on warehousing and distribution element of the industry. Having worked in all elements of warehousing, Susan is no stranger to driving a forklift in sub-zero warehouses. Susan’s message to the audience on the evening was that ‘Attitude will take you a long way in your career’. She discussed how people might look at what she does and the type of work she would be involved with and think it is a job for men and women wouldn’t be suited to it. Susan wants to break this idea that it is for me. She doesn’t want men or women working in her supply chain team, she wants people with an attitude for success! Susan’s award winning team is made up where it is made up in senior positions of 4 women and 3 men, a long stretch from the 78% men and 22% women that make up the dynamic of logistics and warehousing in general.
To compliment the message both Pamela and Susan were trying to get out to the audience, Ruth Warring, our guest speaker from the UK certainly got the message embedded. With Ruth comes a wealth of hands on industry experience within transport, a professional background that would impress event to most sceptical of women in supply chain and importantly Ruth brought an immense amount of passion for supply chain and her profession. Ruth could echo what Pamela and Susan had to say and then add her own passion to reinforce their points. Ruth’s goal is to create more female representation within the sector and has made waves within logistics and transport in the UK to make that happen to female networking events professional conferences. If there was ever a person who will make a massive change for women in supply chain in terms of representation, professional development and motivation for women looking to further their career, Ruth is that person!
To compliment the evening, Pamela Dennison, National Officer, CILT Northern Ireland and Marina Efthymiou, PhD, Course Director M.Sc. in Aviation Leadership, DCU joined the speakers for a panel discussion.
Questions had come in from the audience in the week leading up to the event for the panel. It was great to see a range of interest from senior industry professionals to college students. The panel allowed for an end to end discussion around the questions asked as there was such a great level of professional experience to back up the answers. Many questions relating to education within supply chain shows a great new trend that people are considering how they can advance in the industry as more educational programmes become available. In transport relating to truck driving and haulage which would be seen as the most dirty and male orientated element of supply chain with a rough ratio of 98:2, a great question was posed around how employers can entice more women into this area of work, to which Pamela Dennison, who still actively drives HGVs was able to offer her knowledge on this topic.
As the organiser of the event it was great to see how interactive the audience and panel were. Questions were asked, passions were ignited around particular topics relating to women in supply chain and I believe everyone left the room with a wider knowledge of the industry which was once seen as a men only club. I think following this event, we could see an increase in women in the industry which, I personally believe, would do great things for changing how people look at Logistics and Warehousing in the future.