Pod Talent recently held a Q&A session with Patricia Ahufinger. Patricia is a VP of Supply Chain holding over two decades of experience within varied businesses, from well-known global brands like Burberry, to sustainable start-up Pangaia. In this discussion we explored guidance and recommendations for women interested in pursuing a career in the supply chain industry.
Patricia has provided insights based on her extensive knowledge and personal experiences. Covering topics such as career opportunities within supply chain, considerations when selecting an employer, strategies for attracting more women to supply chain units, and gender-related obstacles, we are excited to share her insights.
What guidance do you have for women who are contemplating a career in Logistics?
Having been close to two decades in the field, I am certain that it offers many exciting opportunities, and I would be thrilled to see more and more women pursuing careers in this area. Logistics is in constant evolution, and we are now more than ever seeing an acceleration in the adoption of new technologies such as robotics or AI to name just a couple, that are making this field more dynamic and attractive than ever.
There are a lot of different roles and areas of expertise within this field, so it's worth exploring what interests you most and where you feel you can have the most impact. As you start getting involved in logistics you may decide to focus on a specific area and master it or maybe you are more interested in having a broader knowledge with a focus on end-to-end management. Regardless of your choice, it’s important to update your knowledge as things are moving fast in this dynamic field: take courses, keep yourself informed on news and trends, attend conferences and events, and talk to other professionals in the industry to get a sense of what's out there.
As a woman, is there anything specific you look out for when selecting a new employer?
In addition to the career development opportunities and compensation and benefits the new employer offers, I think there are two important things to look out for when considering a move from your current place of work to a new employer.
Firstly, and for me the most important, is the company’s culture and values. Are those a reflection of inclusivity in the workplace? Are there signs of discrimination? These type of answers are difficult to come by with, so I would always recommend to spend a good amount of time researching the prospective new company (their social media channels, reviews from existing and former employees, etc)
In addition to that, what are their efforts on gender diversity and inclusion? I consider it to be a green flag when a company is transparent and shares publicly (on when asked during an interview process) their employee statistics (such as gender leadership/management ratio and promotions track record)
What recommendations do you have for businesses looking to draw more women to their supply chain units?
I would recommend them to invest in cultivating an inclusive culture and implementing recruitment initiatives and company wide programs aligned with values of inclusivity and diversity, where all employees feel welcome and valued regardless of their profile or background.
However, although a workplace culture that is supportive, diverse, and inclusive can help attract and retain female talent, let’s not forget about the importance of addressing the gender pay gap. Offer transparency on the compensation structure, a fair and transparent promotion process, as well as conducting regular pay equity analyses and take steps to address any gender pay disparities.
Lastly, given the ease in accessing the audience via the company’s social media presence, ensure you showcase female role models in the field of logistics that can help inspire and motivate other women to pursue careers in this field.
What are some of the most effective approaches to inclusivity for women in companies where you have worked or collaborated with?
The two most effective approaches I have either directly participated in or seen implementing are mentorship and economic empowerment.
Mentorship and sponsorship programs are more powerful than one may initially think, and more companies should consider facilitating those programs. Having the opportunity to connect and spend valuable time with peers in the industry (or from within the company) gives you access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can help you learn new skills, develop your career strategy, and navigate the workplace.
Another effective approach from companies (usually in a customer/supplier relationship) is implementing and monitoring programs that support the economic empowerment of women, especially in those more vulnerable industries or geographies, by means of paid family leave, childcare support and fair wages.
Have you encountered any gender-related obstacles in your Supply Chain & Logistics profession?
Although I see more presence of female leaders in logistics today, at earlier stages in my career discrimination in hiring, promotions, pay gap and salary negotiations were recurring obstacles that I had to navigate.
When I look back, the lack of female representation in leadership roles partially explains what caused a detachment from reality at the time of implementing company policies and culture, impacting career development opportunities for women in the workspace. I am glad to see this is changing, and I am convinced we are to see more female leaders driving further change in the near future.
Are you involved in any mentoring or networking organisations that have aided in your career development?
I am a believer that these types of organisations offer several opportunities in logistics to connect with peers and share knowledge. I always keep an eye on events and webinars by Women in Supply Chain, Women in Logistics UK and others.
More recently, when meeting like-minded women in events or conferences I initiate conversations around mentoring opportunities either coming from me to support women starting their career in logistics, or asking for mentorship support in those areas I could benefit from other women in logistics. It’s always amazing to see how open people are in sharing experiences, knowledge and offering a different perspective to challenges and opportunities we face in logistics.
If you're thinking of a career in supply chain, or already work in supply chain but want to speak to us about your career, we'd love to hear from you! You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to any of our consultants directly - you can find their details on the 'Meet the Team' page.