Logistics is known for its gruff tone, while consulting is known for being a tough place. Assertiveness, a thick skin, and a tough demeanor are often seen as prerequisites for holding one’s own in this world. Both fields are characterized by a high ratio of male colleagues. In this article, I will share my experience with you what it’s like to work in a field with fewer women and why I’m still in the right place.
Serving Clichés: In High Heels on a Truck?
Noisy trucks, dirty warehouses, physically hard work – these are associations people often have of logistics. And this is usually not considered as a work environment that appeals to many women. As a woman in logistics, I can answer the question: False or true?
Logistics offers so many more aspect that have always interested me. It fascinates me how, in a supply chain, many parties across the globe work hand in hand to deliver a single screw to its destination. How much organization is behind every single movement of a pallet. What enormous impact the smallest changes in processes have on the entire flow of goods. Or what logistics needs to function smoothly, things like organization, coordination, networks, and the ability to keep an overview and control over everything. And these are exactly the skills where many women shine. During my career, I was able to contribute exactly these skills and was appreciated for it.
I studied logistics and already learned in my studies that work in this environment can sometimes be “dirty” and rough, and at the same time delicate when it comes to technical process optimization, finely tuned when it comes to special transports, or visionary when it comes to innovations.
I’ve worked in road distribution logistics for a major logistics service provider, a shipping company and an automotive manufacturer. I got used to and over time adapted the harsh tone, earned the respect of my colleagues, many of whom were male, by being organized and far-sighted, and still stood on top of the trucks in high heels (perhaps not entirely safety-compliant) to assess cargo safety and had fun doing it.
Serving Clichés: Safety Shoes to Costume
At CAMELOT, I was able to extend my knowledge in the logistics environment through my projects on different logistics topics, such as warehouse management or track & trace.
Before CAMELOT, I had no consulting experience and was definitely a bit intimidated by the work climate, which is what consulting is said to be. “You have to man up here,” was often heard. And I can confirm that many supervisors, project managers and contractors at the customer are men, especially in logistics projects. Being convincing and decisive, and discussing and negotiating at eye level in a male-dominated environment, sometimes presents particular challenges.
But that doesn’t mean that women aren’t just as good and successful in consulting as men. The skill set that you need as a consultant, such as analytical thinking, technical competences, and structured work, is not gender specific. You also need good social skills, since you work with many different people in frequently changing teams. Sensitivity in communication and social skills, which are often considered typical female characteristics (and are maybe not gender specific as well), are very important in consulting. This helps particularly in difficult constellations, as women can be more diplomatic and de-escalate by formulating things less harshly than their male counterparts.
Last but not least, perseverance and flexibility are of course particularly important. So, it can happen, and has already happened, that you change your high heels for Uvex safety shoes in your fancy costume for a spontaneous warehouse visit. And, of course, you do not stop looking competent in this situation as well.
Yes, the job is challenging, but you grow in it. The CAMELOT colleagues help to create the balance between self-confident appearance and authenticity, and you always appear as a team in front of the customer.
Women in Logistics: Top Match
I can say for myself that I am exactly where I want to be in the world of logistics consulting, and I am convinced that with more female support, we can make a real difference because many women bring exactly the skills that are needed in this environment. So, dare to enter the exciting environment of logistics and consulting, and grow with us.