It Takes a Village to Elevate Women in Breakbulk

Audrey Murillo Makes Impassioned Plea at Women in Breakbulk Breakfast

By Lori Musser

It is time to build your village. That was the key takeaway at the Women in Breakbulk Breakfast at Breakbulk Americas, sponsored this year by dship Carriers.

Audrey Murillo, senior estimator for Bechtel’s manufacturing and technology business unit, spoke to an audience of highly-motivated female professionals about making inroads into equality, diversity and inclusion in the traditionally male-dominated world of industrial cargo movement.

“I’m going to start with some bad news because that is kind of how I roll,” Murillo told the packed room at the Marriot Marquis Hotel. “There are still some pretty big discrepancies in our industry in terms of diversity and culture.”

Despite women comprising only 25 percent of the industry’s workforce, Murillo said, “there is some hope. At Bechtel, we have a Men Advocating Real Change program.”

This initiative has introduced more male allies. “There is a shift happening today.”

Murillo reflected on a personal epiphany. After 15 years in a male-dominated environment, and despite a can-do attitude, hard work was not proving to be enough. She forced herself to look at why.

“A good job is where it starts but you have to have the right people see it. I realized it was all about network. That word makes me cringe, but it is not going to go away. It takes a village to [build] your career.”

She outlined the players in a career development village: peers, or the ones with who tell it like it is; mentors, either formal corporate mentors or others with the right leadership skills and networks; sponsors, or those who sit at the table when decisions, bonusses, opportunities are being discussed; and coaches and therapists, or people who challenge you to work hard, help you and cheerlead for you.

Women working hard to rise in the ranks need all these villagers in order to succeed, Murillo said.

Suggestions were put forward during the Breakfast Q&A session on how women and other minorities can accelerate their career advancement, such as sharing networking opportunities via association membership, LinkedIn and other tools. They encouraged each other to “get out of your comfort one” and build relationships.

Leslie Meredith, marketing and media director for Breakbulk Events & Media, said the timing of the Women in Breakbulk Breakfast, at the outset of Breakbulk Americas 2022, was no coincidence.

It was cleverly planned, in order to support women delegates in getting maximum value from the conference. Audience members concurred that Breakbulk Americas 2022 was a great opportunity to build networks and leverage relationships.

Dea Chincuanco, assistant vice president of commercial and chartering at dship Carriers, said “We all know that to be in this industry for as long as we have been here is tough, but we are tougher.”

She encouraged women delegates to build a community and help others along in the journey.

Murillo offered up a call to action, challenging her fellow female professionals to become a mentor. “You can help. To those of you who sit at the table and get to make decisions, become a sponsor. Use your voice to help those who have been overlooked, to amplify their voice.”

To find out more about joining our Women in Breakbulk networking platform, click here.

Check out our video of the breakfast, plus post-event interviews with Murillo and Chincuanco: