Women’s Unique Leadership Roles Benefit Industry

‘Pragmatism, Patience and Practicality’ Among Key Skills

By Gary Burrows

Women’s growing leadership role in the project cargo and logistics industry is fueled by unique characteristics that have proved particularly key during the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

Industry leaders detailed those skills and provided encouragement for growing women leadership during the Women in Breakbulk sessions during the second day of Breakbulk Middle East Digital Special.

Two industry veterans kicked off the session with an overview of key industry topics impacting women, followed by sessions covering The Many Paths to Female Leadeship: A Career Blueprint and How Women are Contributing to a Post-Covid Business Recovery.

Achieving Parity

Sue Terpilowski, is striving to “create an attractive, smart and sustainable working environment for the EU shipping sector” for women, in her roles as president of WISTA UK; director of Imageline; and co-chair of the Diversity in Maritime Taskforce, Maritime UK.

“We’re going to do an intensive research campaign into enhancing recruitment to retention of women in the industry,” she said.

Despite cultural advancements, there remains a lack of gender-friendly legislation and policies that provide women equal opportunities across all sectors, she said.

Increasing retention and progression of women into middle and senior positions will build the pipeline towards equality globally, she explained.

“It’s not a country-specific project; it’s the same things affecting us. We’re a global sector and we have global issues.”

‘Be Awesome’

Henadi Al-Saleh started her career with Agility in 2007 and rose to chairman. She acknowledges her corporate stature is unique. Women represent less than 20 percent of management board members of top companies in the logistics, while women serving on management teams ranks from 17 percent to 30 percent.

“This is largely because of the history of the logistics industry,” she said, noting certain sectors such as road freight and warehousing are “predominantly male.”

Ecommerce in the Middle East is working towards a gender balance, Al-Saleh maintains, as small and medium-sized enterprises are utilizing technology to growth cross-border trade. “From our own research and research echoed by the World Economic Forum … one of every three business are led by a woman, and that is fabulous news.”

Al-Saleh offered three key pieces for women’s success in the industry. First is to make sure you have a strong network, both personally and professional, to make sure you’re plugged in and are supported in your leadership. Second, “speak up and participate. As (author) Sheryl Steinberg would say, ‘lean in.’ “

Lastly her advice – for men as well as women – “don’t just be good, be awesome.”

Women in Breakbulk Sessions

Many Paths to Female Leadership: A Career Blueprint

How Women are Contributing to Post-Covid Business Recovery