March 8th marks International Women’s Day – an important date in the world of logistics, with women making up 1 in 4 of the sector’s employees, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
“Logistics might not attract many women” says IAG Cargo’s Chief People Officer Emese Bekessy, “but here at IAG Cargo, there are many stories of women who have found fulfilling roles and built successful careers, such as our CEO Lynne Embleton.”
“Women offer a different, and often underestimated, perspective to any given role – and that diversity adds value to any industry,” Bekessy adds. “We want to continue creating an environment where women can have successful careers just as much as their male counterparts. I am happy to see a growing number of my female colleagues believe that they can achieve anything that they set their minds to.”
This month, we’re celebrating the women of IAG Cargo with a snapshot into the working lives of five of our female colleagues, asking them to share their journey into logistics, their greatest career takeaways, and to offer advice to anyone looking to join the world of the supply chain.
Tracie Yagmur, Cargo Operations Manager, London
After many years of being in customer service, I took the plunge and moved to logistics. Gone are the days of tailored uniforms, business suits, and heels – trousers, fleeces, tabards and steel-toe boots are my uniform now. It’s been a complete cultural and emotional shift.
Logistics is perceived as a male dominated industry and women are very much the minority. Today, only seven female Operations Managers exist at IAG Cargo in the UK.
It is daunting entering what many see as a “man’s world”, but you learn to adapt quickly to a completely different way of working. That being said, my experience has been entirely positive – no one has treated me differently because of my gender.
You need to be able to hold your own, be confident and strong. Never lose sight of who you are, your principles, values or work ethic. Keep hold of your sense of worth – you absolutely deserve to be there.
My advice to any woman joining a male dominated environment is to get to know your colleagues, seek common ground and build relationships. Let your male colleagues know they can be themselves around you. Never lose your confidence in your ability to do the job. If you don’t believe in yourself then it’s nearly impossible to make others believe in you too.
Amrita Kaur, Cargo Key Account Manager, India
British Airways will always hold a special place in my heart. I started out with the airline almost 17 years ago and have been a Key Account Manager in cargo sales for 13 years. I would highly recommend this role for anyone, including women.
The success of my performance, in current and previous roles, has required me to develop excellent interpersonal and decision-making skills, as well as being able to successfully multitask.
Years of experience has given me a solid reputation for professionalism within the business. I’ve also drawn on my experience in a multi-cultural environment and my exposure to commercial, corporate and trade aspects of the role has helped me to communicate more effectively, manage teams and multitask.
Jodie Lawrence, Premia Cargo Agent, London Heathrow
I love aviation and I am a huge fan of travel. I’ve always been interested in how cargo operates so I was keen to get involved. After a few years working in an office, I decided I needed a change. I love physical work and knew this would challenge me.
I was offered the position of a cargo agent, I was over the moon. I couldn’t wait to start my new job. It was a proud moment to be able to take on a role in a “male dominated industry”, and show that a woman can do just as well as a man.
Every day is different, and it could be intimidating for a woman to enter this environment, but the guys are amazing and always make us feel comfortable. I’ve recently transferred to Premia – IAG Cargo’s premium cargo handling facility – so I can get more experience. I had that “newbie” feeling again but straight away was made to feel comfortable as all the guys welcomed me in.
In the future, I’d like to work my way up and am keen to become a team leader so I can take that next step to progress my knowledge. And who knows after that maybe an Operations Manager. But for now, small steps – I’m happy being a cargo agent and am passionate about my job. I take a lot of pride in being the best that I can be, for myself and the company too.
Nakita Grewal, Area Customer Service Manager, Japan and Korea
I moved to Tokyo from London where I was a Pricing Analyst. I absolutely love being in a new country and in this role as no two days are the same. There are constant challenges that require me and my team to think outside of the box and come up with creative and effective solutions to problems. I love being based in Tokyo too, and learning about the culture here – it’s so different to London and I’m constantly learning.
I would highly encourage any woman interested in joining the cargo business to absolutely go for it. There are so many opportunities available to women in the field and if something looks interesting, just apply, or speak to contacts in the industry to learn more. That’s how I ended up here. Granted there are still more men overall, but I have never let that hold me back, nor do I see it as a disadvantage. I have never faced any issues as a result of it and I really enjoy the atmosphere. We can all learn from each other and shouldn’t be afraid to take the leap into something new and exciting.
In my time at IAG Cargo, I have learnt to be successful by being open, listening and learning from those with experience. I am also not afraid to challenge the status quo and offer new suggestions to common problems. I accept every project given to me with a positive mindset and “can do” attitude and thoroughly enjoy networking through the business and eventually seeing the project through to the end. I see my career continuing to develop in cargo and I am looking forward to tackling future challenges.
Yasmin Louis, Premia Cargo Agent, London Heathrow
I love travelling the world when restrictions aren’t in place, and working at IAG Cargo is great because I can work flexible shifts. I originally applied to work in grounds operation but realised that being in cargo would be more challenging and help me be more outgoing.
I’m a very active person so I love that this environment is physically demanding. One of the best things about my job is seeing things come and go from so many parts of the world. I love seeing the animals too – I’ve seen everything from monkeys to parrots and tigers.
The workplace is challenging but not because I am a woman. I have been working for the company for 18 months and I face challenges everyday – especially during the pandemic where we had to organise and deliver tonnes of PPE and Covid testing equipment on time, every day.
Being a woman doesn’t hinder progress here, there are so many opportunities. You can move between departments or work your way up to a new role. You always get a warm welcome from everyone on the floor, whether you’re male or female.
As long as you’re positive and hardworking you will earn respect and be appreciated by any team.
Looking for a career in logistics? Find out more