A Conversation with Susan Alt,
CEO, Volvo Logistics

Questions for this Executive Interview have been prepared by members of LQ's Board & friends of LQ: Jacquelyn Barretta, CIO, Con-way Inc; Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services; Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; Susan Promane, Director, Supply Chain, Whirlpool Canada; Ellen Voie, President, Women in Trucking Inc.

LQ: Are there certain areas of the supply chain management profession that you feel women tend to excel in? (Jacquelyn Barretta, CIO, Con-way Inc.)

Susan Alt: Yes. We have found that when we need to optimize a design, for example‚ if we have multiple suppliers and they have different pick up and delivery schedules‚Äîwomen have a better idea of how to optimize our flows. The more complex the situation, the better women are at finding the solution.

LQ: Do you see a career in logistics as being significantly different than one in any other business field? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company)

Susan Alt: Yes, it is. I entered the logistics field five years ago with a sales and marketing background, and I noticed that it is more of a challenge to describe the value of what we do with our customers in the supply chain than with any other industry. Supply chain costs are still often misunderstood. There's a lot of detail involved, and on the sales and marketing side, the commercial side of the business, they don't want to deal with that much detail. They primarily care about how quickly they are going to get their product. I know this firsthand because I worked on the commercial side of this business for 15 years before I came here. In my opinion, there must be more crossover, so that there's more appreciation on both the commercial and industrial sides of the business.

LQ: What unique communication system do you bring to the field of logistics? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company)

Susan Alt: To be successful as a leader, you need to understand logistics; so that when the customers ask questions, you can say yes or no and offer various solutions. For example: we can provide what they're asking for as long as certain conditions are met. We can reduce their transportation costs, but they're going to have to increase their inventory level. We can reduce their inventory level, but their transportation costs will increase. We make sure the customer understands the big picture of what they're asking for. A good leader for growing the business would understand all the touch points and how they affect each other positively or negatively.

Within the company, I have an open door policy. We have about 10 locations in the U.S. I visit every one of them at least once a year, usually many times a year. I believe in getting out and working with people; this means helping, working with the fork lift driver and talking to the people on the dock, because that's where you can learn more about where your inefficiencies lie.

LQ: How has being a woman either helped or hurt you in the field of logistics? (Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services)

Susan Alt: It has helped. I think it's innate for women to multitask a little better, which is an important part of supply chain management. And that's probably somewhat controversial. I came from the trucking industry where I sold trucks for years. Being a woman has always been a benefit for me, if for no other reason than that we're remembered more. We have the opportunity to make a stronger impression.

LQ: Do you think that women do a good job at mentoring others in this field? (Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services)

Susan Alt: We need to give back more. We don't do enough, and that's not just for supply chain, but in business generally.

LQ: Do you expect to see more women in top leadership roles in the logistics/supply chain field in the coming 5-10 years (or will it take longer)? What will this mean for the field? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Susan Alt: I think you are seeing more women already. Some things are happening naturally, and that's not only in the supply chain field. There are more women in management and that's because companies don't want to lose women, especially in their childbearing years; and so they're a lot more flexible in terms of working out arrangements to keep women in the workforce. Technology allows people to work flexibly from their homes. That – combined with the clear trend of companies wanting to keep women in their workforce after they've invested in their development – will result in more women staying in a company and rewarding the company and themselves, and being promoted within the company.

LQ: Would you encourage your own daughter, niece or granddaughter to follow in your footsteps? (Ellen Voie, Board of Directors Chair, Women in Trucking Inc.)

Susan Alt: In the supply chain field, absolutely.




A Conversation with Tracy Meetre,
Director of Sales & Marketing,
Logistics Management Solutions

Questions for this Executive Interview have been prepared by members of LQ's Board & friends of LQ: Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx; Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services; Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company; Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services; Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; Gail Rutkowski, Director of Operations, AIMS Logistics and President, NASSTRAC; Ellen Voie, President, Women in Trucking Inc.

LQ: What would you do to inspire other women to join the logistics industry? (Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services)

Tracy Meetre: I would speak at the university level to spotlight logistics as an attractive career option for women. In my opinion, this industry has it all. It combines established business practices with new technology and creates a career path that bridges corporate disciplines. I don't just work in logistics; as a supply chain professional I work in manufacturing, operations, marketing, information technology, finance and customer service. The supply chain touches every part of the business. That's exciting to me.

LQ: Consider the women you know in the industry . . . are there any unique characteristics of women that go into this field? (Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services;)

Tracy Meetre: I would say that most women in this field have a type A personality and are very confident. In the beginning I had to prove that I knew as much - if not more - about transportation as my male counterparts. It was an uphill battle, but I believe the challenge made me stronger and more knowledgeable.

LQ: What is the best part of your job? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Tracy Meetre: Building relationships and watching our clients succeed. Working in sales, a large part of my job is meeting with and getting to know prospective clients. It can take several months to a year to land an account, but once we bring them on board it isn't long before they realize what we can do - cut costs, improve service, help them gain a competitive edge. I enjoy taking the journey with them, from the initial sales call to the implementation, to presenting the results. It's satisfying to know we've delivered on our promises. I will tell prospects, Let LMS make you a hero simply by hiring us.

LQ: Are there any unique barriers to being a female executive? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Tracy Meetre: Although I wouldn't consider it a large barrier, I didn't know how to golf. If you think about it, a lot of business is done on the green. The golf course is conducive to developing business relationships and it's a great place to network. But golf wasn't a sport I took up as a young girl, or even after college. I never really had the desire to play until I was invited to a golf outing two years ago and that changed everything. I am not sure if it was because I was not too terrible, or because it was important for business, but I was hooked!

LQ: What keeps you up at night? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Tracy Meetre: Everything from PowerPoint presentations to after-school activities. I am constantly trying to make sure I keep my life and my kids' lives in balance, which is no easy task. I have been accused of being addicted to my BlackBerry and I must admit it's true. It sits on my bedside table and each night I send myself multiple e-mails with reminders, ideas and tasks - all this technology has ruined my memory!

LQ: What advice do you have for women who are trying to balance career and family? Can women have it all? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Tracy Meetre: I don't think anyone - man or woman - can have it all. It's more about finding the balance that is best for our families and ourselves. Most importantly, we need to be flexible with our schedules. It's not unusual for me to start a business trip on Sunday, or work a few client dinners during the week. At the same time, I don't feel guilty about leaving at 3 o'clock on a Wednesday to get a front row seat at my daughter's basketball game.

I think employers are more flexible than ever when it comes to work schedules. Thanks to the Internet, and wireless connections at Starbucks, we are no longer chained to our desks. I can work outside of business hours and check my e-mail while I'm grocery shopping. We may not be able to have it all, but I know we can have a work/life balance that benefits our careers and our families.




A Conversation with Rebecca McClendon,
Senior Vice President, Information Technology (IT),
FedEx Freight

Questions for this Executive Interview have been prepared by members of LQ's Board & friends of LQ: Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company; Karen Cooper, Senior Media Relations Specialist, FedEx; Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific Americas Services; Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee.

LQ: How do you select mentors to help you in your logistics career? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company)

Rebecca McClendon: I periodically assess my strengths and weaknesses when evaluating potential mentors who can assist me as I progress through my career. A fundamental part of this process involves ensuring that the mentors I have selected are sincere in their desire to help me grow and that the relationship is mutually beneficial. I've seen mentors who wanted to help, but were unable to invest the time to follow through. I have also seen circumstances where mentors signed up because they wanted the affiliation on their résumé, but weren't willing to commit the time to do a good job. When you find yourself in those situations, you need to be able to recognize them and move on.

LQ: What advice would you give to women considering a career in logistics/transportation? How do you balance your work and personal life? (Karen Cooper, Senior Media Relations Specialist, FedEx)

Rebecca McClendon: The reality of logistics and transportation is the unpredictable nature of the industry, the supply chain and its myriad of elements. Firstly, you must possess the characteristics and temperament that can tolerate an unpredictable lifestyle; a frenetic environment and constant change. Second, you must ensure that you have a support network that works for you. In my case, I have a very supportive spouse, who happens to have a work-from-home situation that affords some flexibility. Most of his work occurs in the late afternoons and evenings. Typically, this isn't when I have pressing demands on my time. In addition, I have neighbors and extended family members that help out with our kids and transport them to sporting events or whatever is called for. This is critical because there are going to be times when a crisis arises, and it is four o'clock in the afternoon and your kids have to be somewhere at five o'clock. That's the nature of the industry and you need to have a network to support you. Third, being personally and professionally organized is key to one's ability to cope with the unpredictable nature of this business. You must make a lot of personal choices in what you need to invest personally and professionally, to enable you to be successful. I have been very selective about what I volunteer for, or participate in socially or quasi-professionally, and the value derived from this participation.

LQ: What leadership qualities enabled you to receive your promotions? (Karen Cooper, Senior Media Relations Specialist, FedEx)

Rebecca McClendon: As a bit of background information, I consider myself in my third formal career. I started out working for an international consulting firm in consumer products. When I began the family/parenting phase of my life, that career conflicted with my personal values of being a parent and raising children, specifically in that it required a lot of travel. So I changed careers and went to the other side, working in management with a retail firm. I spent about ten years there before I began to realize that the industry was morphing into a different state, one that again required extended international travel to succeed. I again shifted both industry and function, leading me to where I am now; which leads us back to the original question.

People in logistics need to have a natural curiosity and desire to learn because the industry is in constant change. Having been in the professional world for almost thirty years, I've seen two significant shifts in the supply chain arena. One is the loss of domestic manufacturing as an industry in the United States, and the second is the global impact of supply chain and the fluidity of inventory, both of which have been significant over the last 20 years. A natural curiosity allowed me to grow and adapt with these changes. The other quality that allows me to continue to grow is an ability to envision a strategy, plan how to execute that strategy, and then execute it successfully. Lastly, I try to learn from my past experiences. Everyone makes bad decisions, but the key is to learn and to use those experiences fruitfully and not repeat the same mistakes.

LQ: How do you inspire other women to join the logistics industry? (Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services)

Rebecca McClendon: I regularly speak in middle school and high school settings about different aspects of the industry. I focus on the exciting aspects of my job. First, FedEx supports many different companies and covers many SIC codes in various industries, so you have a chance to understand the dynamics of how those industries tick and turn. Second, there are extensive travel opportunities because we operate in a global economy. Third, an aspect that I find personally exciting is the diversity of challenges, day-in and day-out. I am stimulated by tackling problems. Often they're very large problems and that's exciting. However, if I was an accountant, I'm not sure I would find these kinds of challenges exciting. To a large extent, it depends on your personality. Fourth, beyond the excitement of the job, is the opportunity for advancement. It's not well known, but I actually have a liberal arts degree in Home Economics. I started out professionally as a pattern-maker and here I am, the head of an information technology group of almost 700 people, building software solutions for a Fortune 500 company. When I started at the consulting firm, there were only two female colleagues in the operations management area. When I left a decade later, it was almost fifty-fifty. The logistics industry mimics the advancement of female professionals in the working environment. If we look at the steady diversification of academic offerings afforded to women in the 70's, 80's and 90's until now, I think we're seeing this growth and expansion materialize with some great talent in many of the companies which are represented by your executive team at LQ. Thirty years ago, I would never have envisioned being where I am today. My personal characteristics, combined with my education and the opportunities I've been afforded, made this field perfect for me. I know that there are other women out there who have similar types of motivations, and similar types of intellectual capabilities.

LQ: Consider the women you know in the industry. Do they possess a unique set of characteristics that allows them to enter this field and achieve success? (Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services)

Rebecca McClendon: There are three prominent characteristics in the successful people I know. First, they consider themselves problem solvers and enjoy puzzles, whether it's word problems or logic problems. Second, there is a bias for action; an energy, a change, a charge that they all get from tackling problems. Third, their positions afford them the opportunity to use both the left brain (creativity) and the right brain (logic) in their work. As a problem solver, you're using that creative aspect, but you're also putting in a methodical rationale as you go from step A to step B to step C. I think those characteristics are evident in the majority of people who are successful in logistics, whether male or female.

LQ: Who has most helped you in advancing your career in logistics? (Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services)

Rebecca McClendon: I have had the great fortune of having three fabulous bosses throughout my career who have been great mentors, coaches and counselors. They have afforded me exceptional opportunities to grow and demonstrate what I'm capable of doing. Also worthy of note is my support-network, primarily my spouse, who has moved all over the country with me in my career. I have not been hampered by a geographical preference as opportunities have presented themselves to me, and that has allowed me to be successful. Finally, my first job as a management consultant afforded me thirty years of career experiences compressed into a ten-year time-frame. That, coupled with my personality characteristics, has allowed me to advance the way that I have.

LQ: What advice do you have for young women in university programs who may be considering a logistics/supply chain career? (Dianne Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Rebecca McClendon: My biggest piece of advice would be to diversify their electives and pursue industrial engineering classes, business management classes and other areas that are not in their major but will supplement their business acumen. That's exactly what I did in my master's program to supplement my liberal arts undergraduate degree, and out of that came some wonderful opportunities that I otherwise would not have even thought of.

LQ: What advice do you have for women who are trying to balance career and family? Can women have it all? (Dianne Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Rebecca McClendon: My response is: No, you can't have it all. As a female, you must decide where your priorities lie and let the other stuff go. Having moved around the country a great deal, one of the things that I have given up is building deep, broad social networks in the communities where we've lived. Those networks take time and investment and this hasn't been possible due to changing jobs, changing companies, having kids, building houses, moving from houses. This was a conscious sacrifice. I kept a fairly narrow social group and built depth within that group. That's what I mean by "you can't have it all". If you happen to be in a job situation where geographical movement is not required, that could make all the difference in the world, but I've had thirty different zip codes in my career, moving to client locations on assignments for six months to nine months in duration. This was all pre-kids; we could pack into a vehicle and just go. It was fun because we were exploring and discovering new areas that we hadn't experienced before.

Building a support network is vital to keeping balance, and that support network is really about knowing who you are and when you need support and when you don't. Because it will happen, your job will become number one, something else will be sacrificed —your personal health, your fitness—and having someone in your network that can help keep you balanced is vital.




A Conversation with Lisa Lisson,
Vice President, Customer Experience, Marketing and
Corporate Communication, Federal Express Canada Ltd.

Questions for this Executive Interview have been prepared by members of LQ's Board & friends of LQ: Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group. Eastman Kodak Company; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific Americas Services Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; Ellen Voie, President, Women in Trucking, Inc.

LQ: As a woman, what qualities do you bring to your role as a business leader, and how do these qualities make a difference to your organization? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Lisa Lisson: I try to be in tune with people. I'm a mother of four young children, and when they come home from school at the end of the day, I am highly aware of their body language; I can often tell just by looking at them what type of day they've had. I think insight is valuable in the workplace. If I am in a meeting, and someone's uncomfortable, I pick that up. I have the ability to read people's body language partly because of what I do at home.

LQ: What are the most significant challenges that women face in the supply chain field? How have you been able to overcome these challenges in your own career? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Lisa Lisson: One of the challenges that I face is balancing my roles as a mother and a vice president. It requires discipline; I spread my time wisely and appropriately. If my children have significant events at school, I make sure to carve time out of my workday and attend those events. People ask how I do it with four young kids and this position; it's important to be extremely well organized. I think that all executives need to be organized and aware of how they spend their time. They also can't feel guilty about decisions they make.

LQ: Do you see a career in logistics as being significantly different than one in any other business field? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group. Eastman Kodak Company)

Lisa Lisson: To be a successful leader, whether you're in packaged goods or logistics, you require a certain skill set. It's easy to learn subject matter expertise, but it's not easy to learn leadership. If I left my current position to work as the vice president of another firm in a different sector I could master the subject matter over time, and I would apply everything I've used to get where I am today: surround myself with good people, maintain a good work/life balance, delegate where appropriate, motivate my team and be an excellent communicator.

LQ: What unique communication system do you bring to the field of logistics? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group. Eastman Kodak Company)

Lisa Lisson: At the end of the day, my role is to support my team 100% and to help them accomplish their goals. In order to do this, I must create an open dialogue environment where communication is done openly and freely at every level. As a leader, you must be approachable. I think it is important for management to spend time with front line employees asking for their ideas and feedback as they deal with our customers daily. Roundtable informal chats with workgroups are critical to maintain an open communication system.

LQ: How do you select mentors to help you in your logistics career? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group. Eastman Kodak Company)

Lisa Lisson: Mentors are an extremely important part of one's success in any field. There's no such thing as a perfect leader. Everyone has areas of opportunity that they should be aware of and ought to be in continuous development. I select mentors that perform well in my areas of opportunity. My suggestion is to align yourself with mentors who possess strengths that you're working on. If I aligned myself with a mentor who is exactly like me, I doubt it would be as productive. I'm a mentor right now for five or six different employees worldwide, and they are comprised of both women and men. I'm happy to share my experiences because my mentors have helped me and it's an important value to convey.

LQ: How has being a woman either helped you or hurt you in the field of logistics? (Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific Americas Services)

Lisa Lisson: I don't feel that being a woman has hurt me or helped me in this field.

LQ: What would you say is the number one skill you would need to develop in the supply chain management industry in order to be successful? (Angela Moundou, former Air Force Captain (Canada) and founder of ICE Leadership)

Lisa Lisson: In my opinion, the number one skill set to be successful in supply chain management is to have a broad knowledge of the global marketplace. Nowadays, businesses are sourcing more goods and services globally than ever before. In order to successfully manage supply chains, you need to understand what is being produced and sold and where and how to move goods from part A to part B effortlessly for your customers.

LQ: Would you encourage your own daughter, niece or granddaughter to follow in your footsteps? (Ellen Voie, CAE, Board of Directors Chair, Women in Trucking, Inc.)

Lisa Lisson: The logistics field is very exciting for people who want to understand different countries, different cultures. It gives you a feel for the world, and how the world is changing, and how much those borders are really starting to disappear. For people who like to travel, see other countries and learn about how their goods are made, logistics is a definitely an exciting field.

I would love it if my daughter went to work overseas and experienced different cultures. That's possible with logistics; we are moving goods all around the world. It provides a global perspective and opportunities for growth. I have been with FedEx for sixteen years because of its great people-service-profit philosophy and the different countries and cultures that I have had the privilege of experiencing.




A Conversation with Pina Starnino,
Vice President, Operations, FedEx

Questions for this Executive Interview have been prepared by LQ's Women in Supply Chain Management Panel: Jacquelyn Barretta, CIO, Con-way Inc; Pamela Benkert, General Manager & Vice President, World Wide Operations, Consumer Digital Imaging, Eastman Kodak Company; Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx; Mitali De, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Business: Academic Programs, School of Business & Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University; Diane Mollenkoph, Ph.D., University of Tennessee.

LQ: As a woman what qualities do you bring to your role as a business leader and how do these qualities make a difference to your organization? (Diane Mollenkoph, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Pina Starnino: As a woman, business leader, mom and wife, you must be very organized, have the ability to look ahead, and possess an aptitude to multitask. You must be a good planner, because you're often the one that holds the household and/or organization together; therefore, you are compelled to sharpen those skills. I'm not suggesting that men don't have those skills, but there's a higher level of intensity that is required from a woman, because you have many roles to fulfill in addition to your business role.

LQ: What are the most significant challenges that women face in the supply chain field? How have you been able to surmount these challenges in your own career? (Diane Mollenkoph, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Pina Starnino: Our company is very progressive. Two out of our six vice presidents are women at our company in Canada. When we interact with other organizations, we recognize that they may not have the same values and culture. They may not be used to working with women in high-profile positions as much, for example. As the Vice President of Operations, I'll always put the customer first and ensure we keep the relationship with our customers of paramount importance. It is important for our company to accommodate the beliefs of our customers worldwide, which encompasses their people, culture and their company. Our company is people-oriented; we respect individuals, whether you're the sweeper, vehicle washer, or the president; this is the culture of FedEx. It has nothing to do with gender.

LQ: What advice do you have for young women in university programs who may be considering a logistics/supply chain career? (Mitali De, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Business: Academic Programs, School of Business & Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Pina Starnino: If you put your mind to something, and you're passionate about it, you can achieve it. There will always be barriers, but you have to focus on what you can do. Don't put your focus on the barriers, for example - the lack of culture, perhaps a lack of peoples' understanding, or people's biases. Focus on what you want.

We need more women in the transportation and logistics industry. If women continue to be reluctant about getting into the field because it's male-dominated, then we're never going to evolve, we're not going to change the landscape in the logistics field. Stay focused on the objective you want to achieve and don't let the barriers keep you back.

Young women considering this field should have a good understanding of marketing, economics and finance. As you move up in the ranks, you must understand these areas in more depth. These are parts of the curriculum that should be studied to make them more confident and well rounded when they come into the transportation field.

LQ: What leadership qualities enabled you to receive your promotions? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Pina Starnino: Authenticity, sincerity and organization has helped me advance. The ability to connect with people at all levels in the company, and to inspire them toward their own management goals has been appreciated at senior levels to allow for my own leadership advancement. It was a daunting step to move to operations at our company as I wondered if the men would be accepting of me, given that the demographics are 90% men. Canada has never had a woman Vice President of Operations.

LQ: What advice do you have for women who are trying to balance career and family? Can women have it all? (Diane Mollenkoph, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Pina Starnino: You can't be perfect in your business role, nor in your role as a mother and wife, but you can be very good. You want to be great, of course, but if you're striving for perfection in each of those roles, you'll always feel that you can't balance them properly. As a mom, I know I can't be at every school or extracurricular event for my son, but I sit down and ask him which events he wants me to attend. At work, I manage my schedule very well, and I plan ahead. It's not about achieving perfection, it's about doing your best and knowing that doing your best is good enough.

LQ: Do you see a career in logistics as being significantly different than one in any other business field? (Pamela Benkert, General Manager & Vice President, World Wide Operations, Consumer Digital Imaging, Eastman Kodak Company)

Pina Starnino: As a woman in logistics, I believe you bump up against some entrenched biased thinking more than if you were in a profession where there is a balance in male and female representation. You must learn how to meet your business objectives while working in this context. At FedEx we're very progressive.

In addition, generations X and Y are now joining the workforce and moving into some of the more senior positions. They don't think in terms of male and female; they think in terms of challenges, variety of work and abilities. As a result those gender barriers are naturally starting to diminish. I'm encouraged to know that we will see more women in this field.

LQ: What keeps you awake at night? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Pina Starnino: I'm driven by results. I need to see a little gain to push me to the next level, and then to the next gain or win in business. In the world of operations, there are many things that you can't control — weather being one of them — and so I am always thinking about how to mitigate these kinds of possible setbacks. I'm always mindful of my end goal and what I need to revisit or change to ensure we reach an objective. These things can weigh on my mind until I have honed a plan of action.

I have a book on my night table that I use to write down my thoughts. Once I do that, I can go back to sleep knowing that I will think them through in more detail in the morning. Usually I'm pretty tired by the time I hit the pillow, but at particularly busy times of the year, there will be things that keep me awake.

LQ How do you select mentors to help you in your logistics career? (Pamela Benkert, General Manager & Vice President, World Wide Operations, Consumer Digital Imaging, Eastman Kodak Company)

Pina Starnino: My mentors have mostly been men. I've had some female confidants who were at the same level as I, who have not necessarily been at the senior levels of the organization. They have shared information on challenges that they have overcome, when I faced similar challenges. My selection of mentors was based on sincerity, realism and trust.




A Conversation with Virginia Albanese, President,
FedEx Custom Critical

Questions for this Executive Interview have been prepared by members of LQ's Board & friends of LQ: Jacquelyn Barretta, CIO, Con-way Inc; Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company; Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific Americas Services; Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; Susan Promane, Director, Supply Chain, Whirlpool Canada; Ellen Voie, President, Women in Trucking Inc.

LQ: Is there any advice that you would give other women considering roles in supply chain management? (Jacquelyn Barretta, CIO, Con-way Inc.)

Virginia Albanese: Learn everything you can about the industry and make sure to gain well-rounded experience. Women especially need to focus on gaining knowledge about financial statements, plus operations and sales experience. I have had the luxury of working with FedEx for almost 22 years. I have worked in many different areas within the organization - operations, customer service, safety and compliance - giving me an in-depth knowledge of how the business works. Unfortunately, many women sideline themselves into a support department because it fits with their personal situation, it may be an 8-5, Monday-to-Friday position. When women choose the support position they may remove themselves from the chain that enables them to move toward top-level executive positions. When making the decision to enter the industry and move up within its ranks, it is a good idea to look at the career progression of the people who are currently holding the top jobs today to understand the needed path.

LQ: Do you see a career in logistics as being significantly different than one in any other business field? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company)

Virginia Albanese: I don't necessarily share that perspective. Before you gain industry-specific knowledge, you must develop the basics that are necessary in every field: finance, sales, customer service, regulatory and strategy, and know how to bring it all together. As with most businesses, our line of work is intensely competitive. I have a friend who sells lubricants worldwide, and his business is also intensely competitive. He's doing all the same things I'm doing. It's the same recipe, just a different application.

LQ: How do you select mentors to help you in your logistics career? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company)

Virginia Albanese: I believe that everyone should have a mentor or two, regardless of his or her level in the professional world. I also believe in coaching from someone outside of the business, someone who you can talk to, to use as a sounding board for ideas or situations. When selecting mentors and coaches, it is important for women to consider having a couple of mentors, a woman and a man. Both should have achieved similar career levels or higher so that they can relate to your situation. I'm not one to talk about gender a lot, but I will say that if you ask a man and a woman how they might handle a particular situation they will probably give you different approaches. You may take either one of them, but this method will give you a more well-rounded perspective.

LQ: What advice would you give to women who are considering a career in the logistics/transportation environment? How do you achieve a work/life balance? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Virginia Albanese: If you are a woman who has children, having somebody at home - a spouse, friend or parent - is very helpful. My husband, who also worked for FedEx, quit seven years ago to stay home with our children. With the home front covered, I can travel more easily, stay late and come in early knowing that my children are being taken care of. I certainly can't make every event that my children participate in, but I try to be there for the important ones. Like anyone else in upper management, I put in many hours of work. When I really need to be with my family I don't feel guilty about leaving. If you want to reach the top of the ladder, you need to be willing to put in the hard work to get there. Ultimately though, we all need to make sure to keep ourselves healthy and remember to make time for fun, relaxation and family so that we don't burn out.

LQ: Would you support a women-only gathering for women in logistics to share knowledge and information? (Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services)

Virginia Albanese: I would look at it with mixed approval, depending on the agenda. I try not to put an emphasis on women vs. men, but rather on professionalism. I am a bit cautious about women-only associations, as some tend to move toward negative elements instead of the positive. I do belong to an executive women's group in Cleveland that is excellent. We talk about women's issues, topics such as career development, reaching the next level or achievement, and financial and retirement planning. We don't dwell on the fact that we're women. Executive coaches are often invited to speak to the group, and the focus is always on development and moving ahead professionally.

LQ: As a woman, what qualities do you bring to your role as a business leader and how do these qualities make a difference to your organization? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Virginia Albanese: I have good communication skills. It's important to know how to convey a message effectively. Listening is also very important. We can communicate as much as we want, but unless we listen, we'll miss the mark. We have addressed this in a number of ways at FedEx Custom Critical. Our marketing team has put together a box called Take it to the Top, which allows our employees to drop in their questions—anonymously or not—and receive an answer from our executive team. We also have a program called Visit with Virg, where we pick about 10 people from all levels in the organization and invite them for a cup of coffee and a talk. We update them about the state of the business, and then we give them the opportunity to ask me anything they want. They may not even ask a question directly, but I try to hear the music and understand what's going on in their minds so that I can address it. It's important to listen and build a trusting and engaging environment. Another quality I possess is empathy. I try to work around people's schedules. Just as I take time to go to my child's music performance, I believe that the hourly employee, for example, should also have an opportunity to see their child in the music performance. Perhaps that quality comes from being a working mom.

LQ: Does being a female pose any unique networking hurdles or does it create opportunities? (Susan Promane, Director, Supply Chain, Whirlpool (Canada)

Virginia Albanese: Often, networking is a skill that women believe they don't have, or they don't spend enough time improving it. You must network. If you have difficulty walking into a crowded room and introducing yourself to strangers, you definitely need to improve your skills (and it is a skill that you can improve). When everybody goes golfing, I don't miss out. The decisions that don't get made at the boardroom table may be getting made on the golf course. If you're one of those executives that say: We already had the meeting, I don't need to go play golf, you've just missed the opportunity to network further. Networking takes time, planning, and it doesn't just happen. A lot of women think that they don't know how to network. Stay-at-home moms for example are great at networking, they just may not realize that making play dates, working with the teachers at school or trying to locate a new babysitter are forms of networking. Women network every day, many just don't know how to apply this to the business world. In terms of creating unique opportunities, there aren't many female CEOs in the transportation field, so when you walk into a networking event, you're often the only woman in there. It is easy to be remembered.

LQ: Would you encourage your own daughter, niece or granddaughter to follow in your footsteps? (Ellen Voie, Board of Directors Chair, Women in Trucking Inc.)

Virginia Albanese: Absolutely. I love what I do. Being in our line of business is energizing and exciting. Every day is a different day and with plenty of new challenges. Both my son and my daughter say, When I grow up, I'm going to work for FedEx. Everything in the world moves by transportation at some point in the supply chain, so there are plenty of jobs out there, and the innovation that's coming in the next few years is exciting. It's a great profession.




A Conversation with Monica Kennedy, President,
ITN Transborder Services Inc.

Questions for this Executive Interview have been prepared by members of LQ's Board & friends of LQ: Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company; Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services; Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; Gail Rutkowski, Director of Operations, AIMS Logistics and President, NASSTRAC; Ellen Voie, President, Women in Trucking Inc.

LQ: Do you see a career in logistics as being significantly different than one in any other business field? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company)

Monica Kennedy: Since the logistics industry is constantly changing you must enjoy change in order to be a part of it. Rules and regulations, safety concerns, fuel prices, customs requirements and border-security issues are amended on an ongoing basis. This poses ongoing challenges to the industry and the professionals who work in this field. However, I love problem solving and change; I enjoy the fact that no two days are alike.

LQ: Are there any unique barriers to being a female executive? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Monica Kennedy: I don't believe in gender-specific barriers; we are all equal, except, perhaps, in physical strength. Since you don't need to bench-press 200 pounds in order to be successful in the logistics field, it follows that female executives in this industry shouldn't face any unique barriers.

LQ: What is the toughest part of your job? What is the best part of your job? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Monica Kennedy: Dealing with issues that have absolutely nothing to do with logistics is the toughest part of my job. I love working in this field, but much of running a business has nothing specifically to do with the field.

Problem solving is the best part of my job. Taking on a project, which involves quarterbacking that project, overseeing its implementation and seeing it all come together is very rewarding. Even more rewarding is working with my directors, managers and staff, knowing that they take pride in their responsibilities, that they contribute to the success of the company and that they are happy and share in our successes. We have a real sense of family at ITN.

LQ: Would you support a Women Only gathering for women in logistics to share knowledge and information? (Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services)

Monica Kennedy: Absolutely not; nor would I support a men-only gathering. As women, we have spent years struggling to achieve equality. Segregating ourselves to gender-specific organizations, in my opinion, defeats the whole concept of equality.

LQ: As a woman, what qualities do you bring to your role as a business leader, and how do these qualities make a difference to your organization? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Monica Kennedy: When women are owners or managers, they add a feminine touch to the company. For instance, I put a lot of emphasis on communication. I make sure to communicate regularly with customers, staff and management. Perhaps this is a result of women interacting with their children in order to help solve their problems; the many "whys" that children ask. I always explain "why" we do things a certain way when training or mentoring my managers and staff. I hire people for their heart and attitude, and many times create the right job to suit the individual, instead of the other way around. A successful company is really all about its people.

LQ: What advice do you have for young women in university programs who may be considering a logistics/supply chain career? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Monica Kennedy: They have to be able to roll with the punches, focus on the challenges at hand and never participate in office gossip or politics. It's a great field to build a career in if you love change.

My former boss once gave me a valuable piece of advice. He told me that since my employment costs were divvied up to the various divisions, I was to report to every department head in the company and ensure that all those departments recognized my value to the company. In other words, it was up to me to sell myself, not to the vice-president or one of the partners of the company whom I directly reported to, but instead to all the department heads. It was a humbling exercise, but it has been the key to my success. As the owner of this company, I now report to my customers, my staff, my managers, my banker, my accountants, Revenue Canada, and all the government agencies that require reporting. That makes up a lot of bosses. The best piece of advice is to accept the fact that you're going to have a lot of bosses and the client is number one.

LQ: What advice do you have for women who are trying to balance career and family? Can women have it all? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

I do believe women can have it all. Organization is absolutely key to survival. Always leave time for yourself. I get up every morning at 5:30 to read for an hour. Reading is a pleasurable quiet pastime for me. Then I go down to the gym most mornings at 6:30 to work out for 45 minutes. Some people think I'm crazy but I know that if I don't do that, the day will race on and before I know it, no time is left for me. I'm great at multi-tasking. I usually have a load of laundry going while I'm reading or in the gym in the morning. It is a juggling act at times, I must admit, but I find that a certain routine during the times I'm not in the office (because routine at work is impossible in logistics!), helps to keep my life in balance. Having a great husband helps too.

LQ: While women have moved into managerial positions within logistics, there still seems to be a barrier attaining C-level positions. Do you feel this is true in logistics as well as other disciplines? (Gail Rutkowski, Director of Operations, AIMS Logistics and President, NASSTRAC)

Monica Kennedy: My female friends and colleagues in this field have done very well for themselves and I don't see that they have had any barriers, per se. Perhaps it is different in the United States? I have no idea, but I think Canada is very progressive with regard to logistics professionals.

LQ: Is there one thing you can point to that has propelled your career in the field? (Gail Rutkowski, Director of Operations, AIMS Logistics and President, NASSTRAC)

Monica Kennedy: I started to take logistics seriously during my tenure as a customs and traffic manager working for a company distributing fluid handling systems. As a customer, I felt that most logistics service providers lacked the ability to tailor a service specifically to an individual customer's requirements and expectations. The industry seemed to lack this kind of maneuverability. Based on this, I had a vision to form a company that was focused on tailoring services specifically to customers' requirements. I am sensitive to saving the client money because I used to be on the buyer's side of the desk. I also believed that I could derive revenue from this service. Let's face it; people don't go into business for themselves unless there is some monetary reward as well. But creativity is what creates revenue. It is partnerships in business that create success. Customers and vendors working together to achieve the same goal is extremely rewarding.




Questions for Pamela Ruebusch,
President and CEO,
TSI Group Inc. and TSI Executive Search

How have you seen the logistics and supply chain sector evolve over the years?

When I started providing executive search services to this industry just prior to 1990, transportation, purchasing, warehousing and distribution were largely separate silos in most organizations. The word logistics was just becoming "in vogue" and there were many debates on what the term actually meant. It wasn't until a few years later that technology fast-forwarded the communications and visibility of the various demand, supply and transportation departments in companies, which soon became the integrated supply chain. Through this, more emphasis was placed on making these components a profession versus vertical functional areas of a company, which elevated the industry to a whole new level. Schools were now focusing their curriculums on the sector, graduating qualified people and our future industry leaders. This alone has opened up the talent pool with educated, motivated graduates who are truly passionate about supply chain and logistics as their career.

What is cultural fit, and why is it important to an organization?

Human resource managers, recruiters and corporate executives often speak about organizational culture and the importance of an employee's fitting into that culture. Skills and competencies are frequently called the price of entry to a recruiting process, and cultural fit is seen as the ultimate determining factor in selecting a candidate. But what exactly is cultural fit? And what makes it such an important factor in selecting a candidate?

Fit, of course, generally means well suited, qualified or correctly positioned. Cultural, in the current sense, generally refers to being of the same or similar group. Putting these definitions together in relation to present usage should be understood to mean that an individual is well positioned to belong to the current organization as a result of sharing common values and goals. That's probably the best definition for the phrase cultural fit in regard to organizational compatibility.

What, then, isn't cultural fit? Are there attributes that are confused with cultural fit?

Absolutely! Cultural fit is not necessarily where someone looks and acts like you. Differing individuals can culturally fit within the same organization. Too often a divergence in style is denominated lack of cultural fit, which is then used to disqualify a candidate. Diversity of style, approach and especially perspective does not necessarily equate to lack of cultural fit. These diversities, actually, should be promoted, and usually lead to more vital organizations.

Now, don't confuse diversity with a lack of cultural fit. As long as individuals share common goals and values, they should culturally fit with one another and should each, in their own way, bring value to the organization. True culture does not equate to identical behaviors. Of course, some behaviors may rise to the level of opposing values, and as such are not reconcilable within the same culture. But many times behaviors are merely styles, and can readily coexist.

Where ultimate goals and values coalesce, diversity adds immeasurable depth to an organization's ability to deal with divergent views, which is a valuable strength in our modern, culturally divergent world. A group that approaches every problem from a similar perspective loses the ability to consider a problem from different perspectives. As long as these differing perspectives share the same goals and values, groups that approach a problem from differing vantage points generally develop more thoroughly conceived solutions.

The bottom line: cultural fit does not exclude diversity of character, but rather encompasses it and builds upon it to reach firmly conceived plans.

The concept of leanness has become a principle in many aspects of the supply chain and in business overall. Is the lean concept viable in a human resource strategy?

Leanness is generally understood to be a set of principles and practices that produce goods and services with higher quality and fewer defects, and in a more efficient manner, than traditional systems. The lean approach has certainly shown its worth in all aspects of business strategy, and is a viable human resource strategy.

Lean principles require an organization to identify its human resource requirements and then meet those requirements in an efficient manner. That means that the organization must engage in a process of efficient design that encompasses all organizational requirements, but in a waste-free manner. This certainly leads to an efficient workforce.

But lean principles are not a cover-up for bad organizational design or improper staffing levels. Organizations will not be able to gain efficiencies merely by overworking staff or commingling disparate job functions. Lean is not a synonym for cheap. Lean principles require an objective approach to organizational design; that objectivity will produce efficient results and the best possible profit scenario. Lean thinking will uncover waste, but it will not transform a flawed business strategy into a successful one.

What do you consider best-in-class hiring strategy to be?

Well, the first thing we need to realize is the talent wars are looming, so it is more critical than ever that companies look internally at their talent and create a proactive succession plan, along with an external strategy for attracting and retaining high performers for their organizations. Too many companies have no strategy whatsoever and have not thought through a plan of who will sit in the organizational seats of the company. Often search for talent becomes last-minute, ad hoc, and often does not have a strategic component to it.

The best companies today value their human capital and see obtaining and developing top performers as paramount to their business growth and success. The other component is to be best in class in how you hire. More often than not there can be disconnects between HR and the hiring managers; when a process is not followed, often the search goes sideways. It is important to get buy-in from the start with all the stakeholders involved, so that if more than one person is involved in the selection, they are all on the same page. That is what an internal champion and an external search provider are mandated to do well in order to achieve a successful hire.

What are some primary challenges and opportunities ahead in the supply chain sector in North America?

The supply chain profession is continuing to rise within the organizational structure of companies that are leading-edge thinkers. We know that having a best-in-class supply chain practice is a competitive advantage for large and small companies alike, in all industry verticals. This is good news for all of us. The challenges lie in two areas: With the boom, bust and echo effect of the baby boomers retiring, we are seeing even now a real dearth of talent. The second issue in our profession is the lack of training, development and succession planning of our industry professionals. A challenge specific to Canada (but not to the U.S.) is education programs and the lack of support for academic schools from corporate Canada. Attracting young people into the profession in this global and competitive economy will allow us to continue to develop well-rounded supply chain professionals, with proven knowledge and skills as well as leadership and financial acumen, so they can take the executive seats of good companies that understand the value proposition and the effects of what great supply chain leaders do.




A Conversation with Denise Messier,
Managing Partner, The Wheels Group

Questions for this Executive Interview have been prepared by members of LQ's Board & friends of LQ: Jacquelyn Barretta, CIO, Con-way Inc; Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Service (PAC-AM); Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; Angela Mondou, Creator of ICE Leadership; Ellen Voie, President, Women in Trucking, Inc.

LQ: Have you found gender-based resistance to your leadership, given the predominantly male mix of most of the transportation and logistics providers? (Jacquelyn Barretta, CIO, Con-way Inc.)

Denise Messier: My business partners and I work as a team. We are supportive of each other and we have had a good understanding. I think that made it easier to transcend any resistance in the organization. Even if we didn't fully agree, there was an unspoken rule that we would support each other until we re-addressed the issue. In the past 20 years, if one of us made a decision without the other, it was common knowledge that it would be supported. So I can't say that I had resistance at that level. If there was, I did not notice.

From a customer standpoint, an approach from a woman may work a lot better than an approach from a man, and vice versa. Some men do not like to deal with women, and that's truly not a battle worth fighting. In that case, you should ask a male colleague to take care of the client in your place. I would like to think that our culture led to that sharing of responsibilities for solidifying relationships. Our gender never mattered, and it shouldn't.

LQ: Do you see a career in logistics as being significantly different than one in any other business field? (Pamela Benkert, General Manager & Vice President, World Wide Operations, Consumer Digital Imaging, Eastman Kodak Company)

Denise Messier: Absolutely. You don't do this just to have a job. You either love it and you give it your all or you shouldn't pursue a career in this field. Most people in this field, men and women, feel a sense of accomplishment that keeps them in the industry.

LQ: What unique communication system can you bring to the field of logistics? (Pamela Benkert, General Manager & Vice President, World Wide Operations, Consumer Digital Imaging, Eastman Kodak Company)

Denise Messier: Everybody's different; in my case, I'm very hands on. You will always find me in the trenches.

LQ: How do you select mentors to help you in your logistics career? (Pamela Benkert, General Manager & Vice President, World Wide Operations, Consumer Digital Imaging, Eastman Kodak Company)

Denise Messier: Every day I meet people who add something to my perspective. I wouldn't call them mentorships, I would call them relationships. Mentorship is a little more refined and dedicated; it's an agreement. I like to think that you can be mentored just by meeting someone for an afternoon. You may never see that person again, but you have connected and you walk away with something new.

LQ: How do you achieve a work/life balance? What advice would you give to women who are considering a career in a logistics/transportation environment? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Denise Messier: When I entered the field and started this business, there was no time for networking because I was working in the trenches. I did not do a very good job of balancing. I didn't feel that I had to work that hard, but I wanted to because I wanted the company to succeed. Looking back 20 years later, I'm very glad I did, but maybe I didn't have to do it all.

Women in our company have been able to leave and raise children while still keeping in touch with the workforce; they have come back and worked flex hours until their children were older and then they have pursued their career full force, aiming for those executive level positions.

LQ: When you consider the women you know in the industry, is there any unique characteristic of women that go into this field? (Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Service (PAC-AM)

Denise Messier: They are all strong-minded and they have common sense. Most of the women I have talked to in this industry over the last 30 years came upon logistics by accident and turned it into a career. Many of them recognized the strength they brought to the table and leveraged it.

LQ: Do you expect to see more women in top leadership roles in the logistic/supply chain field in the coming 5-10 years (or will it take longer)? What will this mean for the field? (Diane Mollenkoph, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Denise Messier: I would like to say yes, I have this expectation, but initiatives will need to be put in place to make those opportunities available. There is a certain level that women can get to without too much fuss. They do a good job and it's recognized and they often remain in these kinds of positions. However, for women to get to the executive level, there are still some barriers.

There's always a difference when you have a group of executives made up of men and women. Sometimes it's still an old boys' club. I recognize that and I can leverage this situation.

Women have a very unique style that they bring to this industry. Hopefully it will become more recognized and women will take it a little more seriously as well. A lot of times, they focus on why they can't as opposed to how they can. I found myself doing the same thing, but I finally realized that the mindset is on business; it has nothing to do with gender.

LQ: What would you say is the number one skill you would need to develop in the supply chain industry in order to be successful? (Angela Mondou, Creator of ICE Leadership)

Denise Messier: When we started the business, our motto was, We can do anything. We don't believe in barriers. We are very open-minded. It is a skill and outlook that can't be taught; the basics to be successful cannot be taught. You need to live it.

LQ: Would you encourage your own daughter, niece, granddaughter to follow in your footsteps? (Ellen Voie, Board of Directors Chair, Women in Trucking, Inc.)

Denise Messier: When we started this business, my children were very young and they were always in the office. They were exposed to the industry. I didn't encourage them, but it was always there. They went away to university and came back. My son has been with us for ten years. He's a project manager. My daughter is in the industry as well, in dispatching. She likes the assets, the drivers, the customer service and bringing those two together. So I didn't encourage them. They were exposed to it as they were exposed to a lot of other things.

I wouldn't discourage anyone to try. However, if they find that it is too much work, then this field is not for them.




A Conversation with Monica Wooden,
Chief Executive Officer, Mercury Gate International,Inc.

Questions for this Executive Interview were prepared by members of LQ's Board and friends of LQ: Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President, Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company; Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx; Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services; Diane Mollenkopf, PhD, University of Tennessee; Angela Mondou, creator of ICE Leadership; Gail Rutkowski, Director of Operations, AIMS Logistics, and President, NASSTRAC; and Ellen Voie, President, Women in Trucking, Inc.

LQ: As a woman, what qualities do you bring to your role as a business leader, and how do these qualities make a difference to your organization? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Monica Wooden: I like to apply a win-win game plan and perspective. Employees feel they are appreciated and not being used, clients enjoy a high-value proposition and shareholders know that it begins and ends with employees and clients.

LQ: What are the most significant challenges that face women in the supply chain field? How have you been able to surmount these challenges in your own career? (Diane Mollenkopf)

Monica Wooden: Being outnumbered. Take the time to approach and establish rapport with coworkers, so when you really need to solve problems the communication lines have already been established.

LQ: What advice do you have for young women in university programs who may be considering a logistics/supply chain career? (Diane Mollenkopf)

Monica Wooden: Subscribe to Sports Illustrated and read the sports page. Learn to play golf.

LQ: Do you expect to see more women in top leadership roles in the logistics/supply chain field in the coming five to ten years, or will it take longer? What will this mean for the field? (Diane Mollenkopf)

Monica Wooden: I think it will depend on whether women really want the leadership role or whether they will feel content with more balance in their life. Changing genetics is tough. Women would rather deliver results and then get paid, while men would rather get paid and then deliver the results. My point is, women in general will not ask for top leadership roles. If you offer a top spot, however, they will gladly accept it.

LQ: What advice do you have for women who are trying to balance career and family? Can women have it all? (Diane Mollenkopf)

Monica Wooden: I don't believe women can have it all, no matter what the circumstances. However, I know that you can have it all, providing your husband sees the world the same way as you do. Both need a strong career early in their professional life, so they can trade off to balance the family's requirements as the kids and parents age. Both spouses finding jobs with minimal travel is a great way to balance career and family. At least one working from a home office really helps as well.

LQ: Do you see a career in logistics as being significantly different than one in any other business field? (Pamela Benkert, Worldwide Operations Manager and Vice President Consumer Digital Group, Eastman Kodak Company)

Monica Wooden: Yes, the ratio of male to female is significantly different from, say, insurance or real estate. So that makes women in logistics very special.

LQ: How do you select mentors to help you in your logistics career? (Pamela Benkert)

Monica Wooden: Throughout my career I'm not sure I ever consciously selected a mentor, but I did gravitate to strong leaders and executives who solved issues by applying out of the box methods to create high value for our customers. I gravitated to leaders for whom the word no was not part of their vocabulary.

LQ: Are there any unique barriers to being a female executive? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Monica Wooden: In general I think it takes more time for people to feel comfortable approaching a female executive.

LQ: What about work/life balance, and what advice would you give to women who are considering a career in a logistics/transportation environment? (Karen Cooper)

Monica Wooden: Certainly you have to do what is right for you, but if you want to reach for the stars, do not take a leave of absence greater than six weeks when you have a child. Some of you may think this is selfish, but the reality is that executives hiring a female often wonder if she will have a child and not return to work. The question can't be asked [out loud], but I believe executives ask themselves this question!

LQ: What leadership qualities enabled you to achieve your promotions? (Karen Cooper)

Monica Wooden: Effectiveness. You have to learn how to get into the red zone and then push it over the goal line for real results, not just talk.

LQ: What is the toughest part of your job? (Karen Cooper)

Monica Wooden: It has always been firing people.

LQ: What is the best part of your job? (Karen Cooper)

Monica Wooden: Making our clients successful.

LQ: How has being a woman either helped you or hurt you in logistics? (Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services)

Monica Wooden: I think it has helped. Issues seem to become more rational when a female is in the meeting or on the call.

LQ: Consider the women you know in the industry. Is there any unique characteristic of women who go into this field? (Linda Hothem)

Monica Wooden: Great question. I would say more of an extravert personality than an introvert is drawn to this field.

LQ: Who has most helped you in advancing your career in logistics? (Linda Hothem)

Monica Wooden: My professional network.

LQ: What do you do to help Superwoman achieve a work/life balance? Or what can you do to get yourself set up for success—to be that superwoman, to achieve a work/life balance? (Angela Mondou)

Monica Wooden: It all depends on whom you marry. My husband took three years off from his career so I could work for an international company, with the chance to provide greater financial independence for our family.

LQ: You have chosen logistics as a profession. Do you see yourself as a pioneer in the industry? (Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services)

Monica Wooden: Not really, but I know one thing: I get more respect than my male counterparts. Although it's a male-dominated profession, my experience has been one of great respect.

LQ: Would you encourage your own daughter, niece, or granddaughter to follow in your footsteps? (Ellen Voie CAE, Board of Directors Chair, Women In Trucking, Inc.)

Monica Wooden: For sure.

LQ: Do you believe that the playing field will ever be level in the area of logistics? (Ellen Voie)

Monica Wooden: No. I think genetics are against leveling this playing field, but that doesn't mean women can't be extremely successful in logistics.

LQ: While women have moved into managerial positions within logistics, there still seems to be a barrier to attaining C-level positions. Do you feel this is true in logistics as well as other disciplines? (Gail Rutkowski, Director, Operations, AIMS Logistics and President, NASSTRAC)

Monica Wooden: Yes, but industries that have trucks and trains are naturally going to be more attractive to males. Very special females choose to play with Lego.

LQ: Is it more important for young women in logistics to be mentored by a man or a woman? Does it make a difference? (Gail Rutkowski)

Monica Wooden: No. It's the perspective of your mentor that is important.

LQ: Is there one thing you can point to that propelled your career—a mentor, an advanced degree, etc.? (Gail Rutkowski)

Monica Wooden: I had some unbelievable mentors at all stages in my life. In high school, a math teacher; my college softball and basketball coaches; at graduate school, my sponsor professor; at IBM, a few terrific executives. I was like a sponge, thirsty for knowledge.

LQ: According to a 1986 Wall Street Journal article, Even those few women who rose steadily through the ranks eventually crashed into an invisible barrier. The executive suite seemed within their grasp, but they just couldn't break through the glass ceiling. What are your views on the glass ceiling metaphor? (LQ Editors)

Monica Wooden: Let us be clear on what the ceiling really represents. To me it is how many lives I can positively impact. As CEO I have a significant impact on my customers, employees, and shareholders. The culture and philosophy of the company take on my values and beliefs. I like that a lot, and so have others; thus I haven't had issues with a glass ceiling.

LQ: Balancing work and family means many executive women possess very little time for building professional networks—which is very important to advancing in one's career. Do you share this point of view? (LQ Editors)

Monica Wooden: Maybe not quite the way you are phrasing the question. The more you work, the bigger the network you will build. I think women may be swinging the pendulum too far back, to more family and less work. The key is finding the right husband to balance the family while you work, thus building that professional network.




A Conversation with Julie Tanguay,
President, L. E. Walker

Questions for this Executive Interview were prepared by members of LQ's board and friends of LQ: Jim Davidson, CEO, Wheels Group; Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services; Mary Holcomb, PhD, University of Tennessee; Linda Hothem, CEO, Pacific American Services; Clifford Lynch, Executive Vice President, CTSI; and Ellen Voie, President, Women in Trucking, Inc.

LQ: How are trucking companies leveraging technology, human resources, and business processes to create real innovation that is recognizable to both shippers and customers? (Mary Holcomb Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Julie Tanguay: The industry doesn't put enough emphasis on research and development. We tend to be caught up in the day-to-day transactions. In 2005-2006, truckload carriers started to enjoy some profit margins and began to invest in areas that required long-term solutions, such as the driver shortage. We considered internal driving schools that would teach prospective drivers about quality-of-life issues instead of just providing a driver's license. Unfortunately, over the past 18 months the margins have been drastically reduced, and in some cases are non-existent. Our industry has been compelled to abandon some of the initiatives that could help solve our long-term problems.

LQ: What is the industry doing to unite stakeholders along a common front in order to influence legislation that impacts carrier/shipper/customer operations, profitability, and federal/state revenue and tax policy? (Mary Holcomb)

Julie Tanguay: The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has been instrumental in bringing the shippers' and carriers' issues to the government. I'm the vice-chair of the OTA, and in November I will take over as chair. I have worked directly with David Bradley, CEO of the OTA, and a lot of well-known CEOs in the Ontario trucking industry. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an old boys' club. They are amazing CEOs—I have watched them compete against each other tooth and nail, but I have also seen them sit in a room together and work on solving issues that impact all of us. It's not an easy thing to accomplish.

LQ: How is their strategy changing now that there is so much capacity and demand is low? (Mary Holcomb)

Julie Tanguay: Our industry responded immediately to the decline in freight opportunities by lowering rates. This strategy has been harmful—a lot of good carriers that have been operating for 60 or 70 years are closing their doors as a result. Shippers are being presented with incredible savings opportunities and admit they know that carriers are running below costs. They tend to either move their business or ask the incumbent carriers to lower their rates. As an industry I think we have hit rock-bottom; we have come to the point where we know that this short-term strategy is not sustainable. After viewing their Q1 2008 results, many carriers are pulling the reins in by parking or selling trucks, removing capacity from the marketplace. In my opinion this is a better strategy than operating below costs.

LQ: Regarding human resources, outside of drivers, where is the next pressing personnel issue? (Mary Holcomb)

Julie Tanguay: Sometimes we forget about the people who keep our vehicles safe. Perhaps it may not be promoted as a career choice, but mechanics are an important, crucial part of the supply chain. The challenge here is technology. The dispatcher of the past used to be a truck driver behind the wheel. They understood the shipper, the border, transit times, the hazards of the roads, weather conditions and so on. Today, because of technology, the person we're looking at is more technically skilled. We are trying to teach trucking to a technical or college-educated person who is often very green compared to a middle-aged skilled truck driver with all the knowledge of the highway. There are challenges either way.

LQ: We've been talking about partnerships for a long time. Yet everything suggests that it is still less than a partnership. When capacity was tight in 2006 and early 2007, the trucking firms were able to get significant price increases and they passed along some hefty fuel surcharges. Now, with declining demand and more capacity, there is a lot of talk about shippers getting even with trucking firms. Is this just the nature of the shipper-carrier relationship, or is it just a few shippers? (Mary Holcomb)

Julie Tanguay: Long-term success is dependent on the kind of relationship you have with your customer. We have had wonderful support and respect from some of our shippers that we have direct relationships with; others have taken advantage of the current economic conditions. Freight opportunities become challenging when a middleman is involved, such as a 3PL or a load broker. These relationships damage our margins the most. When we have the opportunity to interact with our customer directly, we find that the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Shippers may be getting even at this point because some carriers took advantage of the marketplace a couple of years ago. However, we honored our contracts even though the market would have allowed us to leave and enjoy higher margins. In return, our customers have done the same for us during these rough times.

You can see that we are in the perfect storm: there are no barriers to entry, competition is fierce, and it is difficult to differentiate yourself, so the opportunity to be that niche player is no longer available. As demand and capacity shift, so will the bargaining power.

LQ: What have you done to improve or sustain your relationship with your shipper base? (Clifford Lynch, Executive Vice President of CTSI)

Julie Tanguay: We are trying to implement a business services department, which will concentrate on bridging the gap between the customer and the sales and operations teams. In some cases the shipper isn't aware of what we do and the cost to the carrier. We want to deal with the inefficiencies, which is why we have put someone in the middle: an implementation specialist.

When we lose a customer we take it personally. I don't want a customer for two years; I want a customer for 10 to 40 years. It is important to be fair with them, and that doesn't always mean you win. We worry more about the long-term relationship than the short-term gains.

LQ: In many cases the line between line-haul rates and fuel surcharges has become blurred. Do you believe a revamp of the method used to recover increases in fuel costs is called for? (Clifford Lynch)

Julie Tanguay: I do. The current method is outdated but the challenge is, how do we correct a flawed system? It is smoke-and-mirror systems—some choose lower line-haul rates and higher fuel charges; others choose higher line-haul and lower fuel. In the end it all adds up to the same number: 4 + 1 = 5 or 3 + 2 = 5. There is no way of getting around the rising cost of fuel, and carriers that are discounting fuel surcharge, not factoring in empty miles, or lacking systems to manage the rising cost of fuel will not last in this market. Carriers have to do their part in managing fuel costs by controlling speed, idling, aerodynamics, APUs (auxiliary power units), but we also need the capital to invest in these items. I don't have the answer, but I do agree that the line has become blurred. I do know that, in order for us to maintain a healthy transportation industry, shippers and carriers must work together on this issue.

LQ: We are all reading about greening of the industry. Please describe real examples of partnerships where that carbon footprint is being tackled as a true objective—and where is the ROI? (Jim Davidson, CEO, Wheels Group)

Julie Tanguay: With the change in engines and emissions, we were forced to examine this issue. The price of trucks is on the rise as a result of green truck initiatives, as well as the fact that fuel productivity isn't as strong as what it was.

The performance of our drivers has the biggest impact on the environment: they can affect fuel efficiency by 60 percent. When I started in '83, my dad already had all the trucks governed for safety reasons, so I grew up in this environment. Now the big drive in governing trucks is about fuel efficiency and cost savings.

Are we seeing any compensation as a result? No, I don't see any rate increases. There is a little bit of a ROI on the auxiliary heaters installed to keep the drivers comfortable, but it doesn't have a noticeable impact on the bottom line.

Due to our visibility as an industry, we must be proactive in dealing with these issues.

LQ: How do you see the industry in the next five to ten years? Do you see it being consolidated at a faster rate, and, if so, do you see this affecting rates?

Julie Tanguay: I see companies exiting or consolidating. It will have an impact on our rates. We compete with carriers that have 1,500 power units and 5,000 trailers. We also compete with one-truck operators. I see technology, sophistication, and better enforcement of regulations in the future. I don't believe we require more regulations, just better enforcement. I think black boxes are a must. When I have this discussion with our drivers, they voice concerns over the idea of black boxes. I try to explain to them that it's the only way that the playing field will become fair, and the outcome will be that a truck driver will be fairly compensated for the work performed.

LQ: How can the transportation industry better attract and retain women, both in the vehicle and in the office? (Ellen Voie, Board of Directors Chair, Women in Trucking Inc.)

Julie Tanguay: Growing up in the industry, I was unaware of many of the obstacles that women face. It is hard to understand why a female would not enjoy this dynamic environment. It is made up of fantastic people who have done a remarkable job of removing some of the barriers and intimidation. Physical strength is no longer a prerequisite, although there are specialties within trucking that require physical strength. One aspect of our industry that needs examining is the rest stop. There is a safety issue in that the facilities are not geared toward women. But I believe that the traditional role of mother and wife is the greatest barrier hindering women from getting into a truck.




A Conversation with Susan Promane,
Director of Logistics, Whirlpool Canada

Susan Promane is a new member of LQ's Advisory Board and a member of LQ's Women in Supply Chain panel. Questions for this interview were prepared by:

LQ: Is there gender balance in the SCM profession? Are there any unique barriers to being a female executive in this industry? (Karen Cooper, Senior Communications Specialist, FedEx)

Susan Promane: There isn't an equitable balance today, but that's changing due to two major drivers. Firstly, there are more educational programs which are attracting female students, enabling women to enter the discipline at a more senior level. Secondly, the term supply chain management now has a broader definition encompassing areas such as customer service, demand planning and inventory management. Many SCM roles now involve both physical warehouse and transportation management as well as planning and forecasting, and this has attracted women into the industry.

Female executives face barriers. Some of these barriers are unique to being a female in the SCM profession; others are common barriers that females face in many professions. One such barrier, specific to this industry, especially if you are on the shipper side, is that many suppliers are not used to dealing with females in decision making roles. Some struggle with how to build a relationship with a female. For example, some may be uncertain as to whether it is acceptable to ask her to lunch or invite her to a sporting event. The key is to understand the best fit or interest with the individual - independent of gender.

I have progressed within the field of supply chain through its evolution over the years and believe I have been successful because of my accomplishments and my leadership style. My education and experience have been essential to opening many doors, and the fact that I am a female in a predominantly male industry helped to differentiate me from the norm. Once in the role, gender no longer plays a factor and it is your performance and success in the role that makes the difference. My expectations have always been to be evaluated on merit and not receive any special attention because I am female.

Other barriers due to traditional conventions and stereotypes may still be faced by women in general in the workplace. For instance, it is not expected that women be firm and direct, so when we are, it can be misinterpreted. Or if a female gets passionate or excited about a topic, it may be misinterpreted as an emotional outburst. Fortunately, these conventions are changing with the generations. I have a six-person team, two are women and four of them are men under 40, and I don't believe that they would relate to me any differently if I were a man.

The overall culture of the organization can have a large impact in helping to influence and promote gender diversity in the workplace. If leaders within an organization are comfortable working in a diverse environment, it will be felt by the rest of the organization, thereby shaping the overall culture. In our company, as with most companies I have worked for, we are recognized for our contributions, certainly not for our gender. That's something that I value about Whirlpool and it's what, as part of our leadership team, I instill in my group.

As it currently stands, there is no gender balance within the SCM profession at the executive level, although I believe that equity in representation will improve in the near future. As women are now approximately 75% of all university graduates and more of them enter the field, this will definitely lead to a transformation in perceptions, expectations and beliefs about capabilities or lack of ability within the field being attributed to skills, experience and knowledge as opposed to gender.




A Conversation with Michelle Arseneau,
President & CEO, GX Transport and
Rachel Arseneau, P.Log,
Vice President, GX Transport

Questions for this Executive Interview have been prepared by members of LQ's Board & friends of LQ: Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services; Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee; Susan Promane, Director, Supply Chain, Whirlpool Canada; Gail Rutkowski, Director of Operations, AIMS Logistics and President, NASSTRAC

LQ: You have chosen logistics as a profession. Do you see yourself as a pioneer in the industry? (Melissa Gracey, President, DTA Services)

Michelle Arseneau: The company I represented when I began in sales was one of the first to hire women in this capacity - I was constantly reminded of how unusual it was to see a female in that role. Being one of the first few women to specialize in the field of Dedicated Delivery Services, focusing primarily on the automotive industry, could be characterized as a pioneering initiative. Our company has since continued to pioneer leading edge technology to further support this method of business with our existing clientele.

LQ: As a woman, what qualities do you bring to your role as a business leader and how do these qualities make a difference to your organization? (Diane Mollenkopf, Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Rachel Arseneau: I think women are naturally more detail oriented than their male counterparts. This brings a great advantage to ensuring all of the smaller processes that need attention, in order for larger procedures to be effective, receive the attention they deserve.

LQ: Does being a female pose any unique networking hurdles or does it create opportunities? (Susan Promane, Director, Supply Chain, Whirlpool Canada)

Rachel Arseneau: Networking can be an interesting experience for women in a male dominated industry. The majority of industry functions are probably 80 percent carried out by men, so the women in attendance naturally attract attention. It's important that we conduct ourselves professionally and clearly articulate our business goals, balanced with a measure of appropriate personal conversation.

LQ: Is it more important for young women in logistics to be mentored by a man or a woman? Does it make a difference? (Gail Rutkowski, Director of Operations, AIMS Logistics and President, NASSTRAC)

Michelle Arseneau: I don't think that gender makes a difference, providing your mentor possesses all the qualities you aspire to professionally. It would be more constructive for young women to have a female mentor when it comes to certain aspects such as networking and achieving a work/life balance.