Female Game Changers: Women in The Industry Around the World
All over the world women are making a difference, sometimes in ways that are obvious and well-recognized, and at other times, behind the scenes.
Over the course of this series, we will highlight women contributing to various stages of the supply chain. From the moment you click the item on your screen, until the moment it arrives at your door, a complex process is set in motion that involves countless individuals spanning multiple states, sectors, and levels. Your work, like that of plenty of others, depends on this process running smoothly. Here are several influential women ensuring the supply chain is operating as smoothly as possible.
Claudia Hughes; Chief Sales Officer, Global Industrial
With 28 years in sales and leadership, Claudia has a clear idea of what success looks like. She believes you must start from the ground up when the team starts on a careful strategy. According to Claudia, “It begins with the individual contributors to buy into your strategy and understand how change will benefit them and the organization, and from there, the numbers take care of themselves.” Claudia is always looking for a new strategy. “Salespeople always want to do it the way they did it in the past, but you can only get so much out of an existing strategy. You must change,” added Claudia.
When Claudia discusses change, she refers not only to sales, but to women in sales, and women in industry, in general. In the past ten years, there has been a shift to more women working within sales, and secondly, more women in upper management. “More women are stepping up to get these positions. More women are saying that they want their voice heard. And it's not just in sales where women's voices are being heard. This is a trend across all sectors, at all levels and businesses are benefiting as a result.
Something Claudia would like to tell other women, perhaps those who might be considering positions of upper management, or a career change into an industry, which has been historically perceived to be male dominated is this: “If you have a point of view, you're educated, and if you're passionate about what you do then you have an opinion worth adding to the conversation. It helps move everything forward, whatever your role.”
The idea that your voice is powerful is something Claudia knows well from personal experience and readily shares with others. Claudia noted that in the early days of her career, as any person at a junior level knows, “It felt more natural to hide in the back of the room. But soon enough, it's time to say, I'm going to sit in the front,” she stated. As you can imagine, as her career took off, and today, she’s not just sitting at the front of the room, but leading it.
Benita Coffey, Vice President of Operations, Bennett Motor Express
When the Atlanta Business Chronicle selected Bennett as the top women-owned firm, it was no surprise to the women running the show in McDonough, Georgia. According to Benita Coffey, “Trucking has undergone a total transformation.” But to Benita, the core of the business was always ahead of the curve. “We've always had women drivers,” says Benita, who started at the firm in 1989. The transformation began when there were more and more husband-and-wife trucking teams, and many more women driving solo – a change that happened naturally.
Starting out as a secretary, Benita has worked all the way up. Becoming Vice President of Operations is a long way from where she started. “I didn't want to be a secretary all my life,' she stated. “I was very patient. I knew that it would come when the time was right.” With experience and knowledge of the trucking industry, Benita sees her role primarily in terms of helping others. “I pride myself on taking care of my staff. There's no time when my door isn't open, and I'll make time for anybody that needs it,” she added.
Bennett has worked to encourage more women who might be considering a career in trucking. One of the ways they try to promote their program, ‘Women In The Driver's Seat’, is with their truck stickers, which can be seen across the country. They are bright blue and feature the phrase, 'Women in Trucking'. The stickers are highly popular with the Bennett trucks.
“Know your job and do it well.”
To those women who might be considering the trucking industry, Benita says the company places great emphasis on their orientation programs which are offered to all new drivers over the course of three days, covering everything they'll need to know. Trucking can be highly specialized, when hauling heavy machinery, for example, but it's a combination of knowledge and experience. This is something that Benita has put into practice in her own career, starting out as a textbook manager at the University of North Texas, in Denton. “Dealing with professors,” she says, “is a lot like dealing with truck drivers, it's all about getting the job done.” In both cases, an eye for detail is one of the most important things.
The ability to care for others is one of the things Benita most admires about Bennett founder, Marcia Taylor. “She supports us at all levels, and she trusts me. I don't think I would have had this opportunity anywhere else,” admits Benita.
Julie Poulter, Manager of Operational Excellence, Global Industrial
Based in Pleasant Prarie, Wisconsin; Julie oversees new development processes for distribution centers across multiple locations.
On this day, Julie was tracking 43 different projects. A colleague of Julie confirms, what is already obvious to the uninformed, 'she basically runs the show'. Humble in her approach to work and management, Julie notes that she has a 'very good team' and that 'things come together in the end'. Given the complexity of the tasks Julie oversees, it is no surprise that she assigns the most importance to the selection of new team members. Above all else, she is looking for analytical and strong personality traits. Julie is looking for individuals who can look at a problem and work it all the way back to the root cause.
“Twenty-five years ago there weren't women in the warehouse.”
Julie has seen many changes over the years. Specifically, the number of women she has worked alongside. Her team now is primarily made up of 75% female employees. 'There has been a huge change from where I started,' Julie says. This shift in the number of women in the workforce is a result of changing cultural norms, changing opportunities and changing expectations. 'Women feel, now if I want to go to school to be an engineer, then I can be an engineer'.
'Being a strong woman is a mindset.' But it's also important to 'find that balance', Julie continues, 'you've got to have that strength to push forward, but don't overstep by making someone feel little while you're doing it'. Day to day, Julie looks to support her team, while trying to help them find their own balance.
We’re proud to champion the women who are helping to make a difference in the workplace all around the world. In every industry and in every role, women in every country are getting the job done. Let’s take some time this week to appreciate the impact they all make during International Women's Week.