Women in Transport Industry

Our President Ms Doris Torres, in her capacity as President of PISFA (Philippines Seafreight Forwarders Association delivered a speech at the recent FIATA World Congress in Kuala Lumpur. Capitalizing on women’s natural strength in the Transport Industry. 
She appealed to the young female generation to see the transport and logistics industry as a dynamic and very exciting career, an area where women so far were underrated, often because of the perception this is a muscle job for men. Yet in Logistics we need today also the emotional strength and a kind of leadership skill  which men often cannot match. Anyway, we know both genders are needed to be successful, not only in Transport.



Globally, the role of women in the society has and had been evolving. In Saudi Arabia as you might all know, women are allowed to have a license to drive. Isn’t this a milestone in that part of the world?

In the Philippines, we are fortunate to be supported by the society to excel. We’ve produced two lady presidents, Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In our Association alone, the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association, I am the third lady president.

This shows women “can” take critical and top positions in any field.

Let us examine once again the structure and profile of Transport and Logistics. As Ms. Melanie Hall – Vice President of Life Sciences at DHL Supply Chain in an article shared “There is more to the industry than just moving and lifting” In fact, the task of moving and lifting are just the executory part of the task of delivering products from point A to B.

There is more to it, and in my opinion, is more crucial in transport and logistics. Even before a thing is moved and lifted, there is planning, there is the execution of the plan, the coordination and interfacing of various processes, constant monitoring to ensure a smooth execution of the plan. Now, if you think that the job is done once the product has been delivered smoothly, think again. The task does not stop there, it extends to continuous review of processes and costs, adoption of new strategies, and use of innovations for future operations.

As one of the renowned leaders in the industry Mr. Klaus Kuehne says ”Logistics specialists should bring along vision, logical, analytical and conceptual intelligence, and the talent to coordinate and organize. Furthermore, they should have communicative and teamworking capability”

With such a statement from an expert, the inclusion of special qualities and natural strengths of a woman is indeed inevitable in the complex world of transport and logistics.

Let me share with you one of my personal experiences. The task involves Transport, Delivery, Rigging and Installation of equipment and accessories of 105 MW and 108 MW Power Plants in two different locations in the Philippines.

The end-user / buyer is Filipino, Contractor is American, Hauler is British, Rigging and Installation by the Dutch, Manufacturer in Finland, Sea transport by Danish vessel, German in Logistics and our company a Swiss-Filipino local Logistics Agent. That alone is a diversity in many aspects. A teamwork of men and women from diverse cultures.

The task entails so much of physical work in the field and you cannot help but think, is this the right workplace of a woman like me? The German logistics representative was a lady and she was in the field coordinating and organizing every stage of the task. I was then the Operations Manager, organizing and coordinating their needs in the field. Making sure that all their needs to perform their jobs are in place, avoiding possible disruptions and delays as the stake is so much. We were the only two ladies in the team.

No doubt each player is an expert in their own domain. As local logistics agents, we have a shared mission of ensuring not only customer requirement on delivery time is met, but most importantly, we also have to look after the conditions of the workers from accommodation in the field, working visas and permits, transportation and many others that pertains to their well-being while at work in our country. Not to mention the core of logistics activities in documentation, customs clearance and compliances that have to be put in place. No matter how the players are skilled in their own craft if the different activities are not well-coordinated, well-organized and planned, I do believe the task would not have been a success.

I did not have to put on safety shoes, nor a vest or a hardhat. I was behind the scene, carefully planning, organizing, coordinating, networking and communicating. These roles did not make a woman like me less or inferior. On the contrary, these are great contributions to the team and women do not even have to try hard as the qualities needed for the tasks are innate in them.

In any Industry, the bottom line is for a team to meet the goals. Bottom line does not discriminate gender. This of course is not as easy as said. A logistics leader should be able to strike a good balance and synergies of all the qualities needed in the performance of work in order to optimize and to effectively perform the job. The qualities and skills may either be possessed by a man or a woman.

We, women do not have to act like men in order to become part of the game in logistics. Lest, the benefit of diversity in the workplace will not be realized. But rather, women should capitalize on their natural strengths and contribute to the advancement of the Transport and Logistics Industry.

Allow me to share with you what Traci Barrett, a life coach have advised to women: “Just don’t try to be anything else but yourself. Don’t try to be a man. Don’t try to be what you think your boss should want you to be. Just show up, and participate by being thoughtful and smart.”

I urge you young women professionals to believe in yourselves. Believe you have a place in the Transport and Logistics Field as this is one of the most dynamic industry you can harness your full potential.