International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the achievements of women around the world – whether these are social, economic, cultural or political.
With its historic focus on physical labour, women have been under-represented in the logistics industry – however, in recent years organisations have worked hard to redress gender imbalances and create positive, lasting change. Networks such as Women in Logistics and Transport or Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association, for example, have been set up to promote female career growth through education and mentorship.
For 2020, the theme of IWD is #EachforEqual, which is promoting development towards a gender-equal world. As part of the celebrations, we’ve profiled two of the many brilliant female colleagues who work at Rhenus. Find out more about their roles and what advice they have to pass on to women starting out in the logistics industry.
Bruna Ventura, Branch Manager Brazil for Freight Logistics
I started working in the logistics industry 15 years ago. My first role was as a trainee on a shipping line – following my traineeship, I continued at that company and worked there for 4 years.
I then moved to the logistics department of a shipping business, where I specialised in the movement of oil and gas. This was a much more customer-facing role.
For the past nine years, I’ve been working in brokerage and freight-forwarding and the past five years specifically with Freight Logistics, which is a member of the Rhenus Group.
Currently, I’m the Branch Manager for Freight Logistics Brazil, based in Sao Paulo, and manage a team of 16 people.
It’s difficult to describe a ‘typical’ working day as every day is different. We work with several different suppliers who have individual needs that we must meet.
It’s very fast-paced though as the market situation can change at any moment – so it’s key that we keep up to date.
When you’re working as a supplier, your day-to-day role is dynamic. You could be handling many different products for customers – including general cargo, beverages and pharmaceuticals.
Firstly, logistics is an ever-changing and challenging environment, so you need to be prepared for that. But it offers so many possibilities. If you’re curious and good at thinking outside the box, it will suit you well.
Logistics is a huge market and you’ll get to experience so many great places and cultures while you’re working. It’s a brilliant way to broaden your horizons. And there’s lots of variety too. You can work in several different areas, such as domestic logistics, warehousing, air or ocean freight.
It’s vitally important that women can grow within the company and take on leadership positions - this is something I encourage in my role as a manager.
By taking on higher roles today, women can inspire and open doors for the next generation. They can create safe spaces within organisations, where any woman can feel at ease and able to get their voices heard.
Patricia Ng, Scrum Master (Procurement) in Singapore
I have completed a 2-year management trainee programme with Rhenus Logistics in the APAC region – most recently based in Bangkok. As a trainee, we work in many different posts – across freight, warehousing and project management. Upon completion, I am currently the Scrum Master in the Procurement team in Singapore.
Before that, I’d been working in the hotel industry in Singapore in a very customer-facing role. Main focus of the job was to cater to particular client needs which eventually energised my passion for logistics. The position prepared me well for when I was at Rhenus, as I was again acting as a point of contact for customers providing individualised solutions.
I’ve worked across a couple of departments as a trainee, and all roles are very different in what they involve day-to-day.
Working in operations, for example, even though tasks do have a specific structure to them, the various customer needs make every request challenging – in a positive way. The main objective of every move is to meet the customers’ expectations and KPIs. This is key for all roles in our company.
No matter what role you fill, all have one thing in common and that’s team spirit. The working environment here at Rhenus is always friendly and open. We often take team lunches together and there are lots of workplace initiatives which create a very social atmosphere among staff.
Firstly, do your research and planning. Meet and speak to different people from the industry to learn about what got them interested in logistics and what appeals to you. Every role in logistics is part of a vast process.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is drawn from the notion of ‘Collective Individualism’, where collectively we can make change happen by working together as individual parts of a whole. This drive to continuously improve and collaborate is also a key part of working in the logistics industry.
Empowerment done well is giving your colleagues and staff clear guidelines to work around, then trusting them to get on with their job.
As a personal example, in one of my roles as a Rhenus trainee, I was empowered by my supervisor – he took a step back and let me handle a key customer on my own.
It’s essential that colleagues feel trusted to do their job in this way. When everyone is empowered equally, that’s when we can ensure equal opportunities.
Thank you to:
Alena, Alessandra, Anabelle, Bruna, Camila, Cherry, Edilene, Elham, Gina, Halyna, Jenaviv, Jenny, Jessica, Jolly, Larissa, Lays, Lu, Lucy, Maria, Maureen, Mayra, Mehmoona, Miao Yi, Patricia, Princess, Puseletso Yuna and all others who participated.