Women Who Work: In Logistics

Hi Everyone!

I am so excited about this post. As I mentioned in this blog post back in March, one of the first ideas I had when I started this blog was to write a series called Women Who Work. This series would be a place for both women (and men) to explore and learn about different career paths, get insight from early careerists killing it in their respective fields and highlight amazing women who I respect greatly!

Back when I was in grade school, future careers were as follows: doctor, lawyer, vet, dentist, and what the heck does business even mean?! 

I would never have been able to tell you that I would have ended up working as an administrator in a hospital. I didn't even know there were business roles in a hospital until about four years ago! I hope this series provides some insight into the unique careers that are out there waiting to be explored.

For my first featured worker, I couldn't think of anyone better than my best friend of 24 years and my Maid of Honor, Kaitlin Scheper.


Did I mention we also went to college together? She can't get rid of me!


Here is a real Throwback Thursday for you! (L: Kaitlin, R: me)

Kaitlin is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. She is resourceful, reliable and cool under pressure. She worked an almost full-time restaurant job all through college and I have always had so much respect for her both as a person and professional. 


Welcome to Healthcare & Heels, Kaitlin!


In a few sentences, tell me what is logistics?
Logistics is the central concept in supply chain management. In the most basic terms, it’s the coordination of getting a company’s goods from point A to point B. My company arranges over the road (trucks) transportation for produce, meat, and frozen food companies mainly.
How did you get into logistics?
Logistics was never something I really considered as a career for myself. I double-majored in college with a Business Administration degree and a Hospitality and Tourism Management degree… but Hospitality was always my focus for a career. After getting some experience in the industry I realized that I wanted to explore other options (perhaps something that didn’t require me to work late nights and weekends constantly) and I randomly landed on a job at a Logistics company. I decided to apply, interviewed and here I am!
How did you land your job?
The interview process was surprisingly long… 2 phone interviews, a typing test, a states test, and a 2-hour in person interview. It was a good experience for me because while they were probably trying to determine whether I was worth bringing in for a face-to-face interview, I was able to get a very good understanding of the position and what kind of candidates they were looking for during the phone interviews.
That process allowed me to ask really relevant questions during the in-person interview. I also remember my director of sales (who I met with during the on-site interview) commenting on my work history and the fact that I’ve literally had a job since I could start working in high school. I think that told him that I had the kind of work ethic that they were looking for and I think it was a main attribute that helped me land the job!  
What were some of your first jobs and how did they help you in your current role?
Besides babysitting in my neighborhood and for family friends, my first “real” job was as a hostess in a casual restaurant when I was 15. Working in the food service industry taught me a ton of valuable lessons.
The main takeaway for me was that strong work ethic = money = more financial freedom for me, which is something that has always been a goal of mine. Working in the food and beverage industry really set that foundation for me because I could pick up shifts if I was saving for something special… and basically I haven’t stopped working since!
What are a few of the common roles/positions in logistics companies?
This could vary company to company, as everyone structures themselves differently, but at my company we have logistics executives (sales), logistics coordinators (operations-this is my role), director of sales, night dispatch and carrier set up.
What is a typical work day look like for you?
I arrive in the office by 8am and get settled in at my desk. Once I get everything up and running I do “check calls” on our orders over the road. That means calling the trucks and getting an update on their location and making sure they are tracking for on-time delivery.
After that I begin looking at the orders that we have shipping out that day and if we don’t already have trucks arranged to pick up those orders, I will work on getting them covered. Once everything is covered, I call to make sure all of the trucks will be on time for their loading appointments.
Time management and multi-tasking is a huge part of my position, because while I’m completing the previously mentioned tasks, I could also be looking at our orders for next week and making sure everything is scheduled to pick and deliver on their respective timelines.
Throughout the day our customers may call and ask us to provide a quote for an order that they are working on and if we don’t have one readily available I may make some calls for that as well.
I usually try to have all of my “day-of” tasks completed before I go to lunch around 1 o’clock so that I can enjoy my break without stressing about the time-sensitive things waiting for me when I get back to my desk. The later part of the day usually consists of calling trucks to make sure our orders are loaded properly and setting reminders for our night dispatch for any late night or early morning delivery appointments. I’ll also look at orders shipping the next day and if it’s something that may be difficult to cover on the day-of, I will work on pre-booking a truck.
What is the most surprising thing about your job?
The most surprising thing about it is how much opportunity there is in this industry. My company specializes in moving produce, fresh and frozen meat and poultry, and other frozen food products mainly, but there are thousands of companies out there who may be looking for assistance with their transportation of other types of goods such as textiles, rubber tires, paper products, shoes… I could list different commodities all day and not even touch 1% of the possibilities. It’s also very time-consuming, which is why a lot of companies either outsource these needs or hire someone specifically to handle it in-house.
What is a challenge you have overcome in your job?
My time at this company was a little out of the ordinary, because I had a really long period of “training” because they needed me to stay on an account that needed extra help. After that was over, I began my normal “sales” position, which was a challenge for me. I had never been in an environment where I had to cold call and be really aggressive.
I would come into the office and be encouraged to make 100 calls/day until I generated a normal book of business. After a couple months of that and having some, but no major successes, I was offered a position as a Logistics Coordinator on one of our largest accounts. I struggled a lot here because I felt like I had “failed” in sales and that’s why they were offering this position to me. What I have come to realize though is that this position at my company isn’t just offered to anyone… so it turned out being a good move for me. It also allowed me to have a much better work-life balance and I have no regrets about it now.
What is your greatest success since you started working?
I’ve worked on a few of the biggest accounts at our company. I was actually offered a significant raise during my first few months at the job because of a new account that needed extra help. That was a big opportunity for me because it gave me the chance to prove to my new bosses that I was capable of taking on something very important and rewarding for the company. It required a lot of late nights, early mornings and weekend work but in the long run I think it led me to other opportunities here.
What skills or qualities are important for being in logistics?
You have to be extremely organized and detail-oriented. Logistics can like a big puzzle at times and things can get messed up easily if you don’t pay attention. I feel that as a woman being organized is definitely one of my strengths, and it has really helped me to stand out in a male-dominated company.  
You have told me before that in logistics (in your office specifically) there are more men than women in the industry. How do you handle this? What strides are being made to get more women into the logistics field?
I’m not totally sure why this field attracts more men than women. I was initially attracted to it because of the financial and commission-based opportunities even in entry-level positions. I wish more women would get into the field… because I think we would dominate!

Many logistics companies will recruit soon-to-be graduates in business schools, so hopefully seeing increasing numbers of women in undergraduate and graduate school programs will improve the number of women in the field! How can someone get involved and learn more about the logistics field?
Luckily the logistics industry is booming and there are so many companies, including mine, that are growing like crazy. There are a lot of entry-level positions available and I would recommend looking into a few different companies if you know you want to be involved in the industry.
There are also several logistics professional organizations out there that I would recommend checking out to get some real-life industry insight. It can also be a great way to meet people in different positions/niches to get a “full picture” of the industry and the type of company you may want to learn more about.
How do you think the skills you have learned in your logistics career will help you in your future career goals?
Negotiating pricing is a major skill that I didn’t even realize I would learn when starting this job. There are a lot of discussions about rates to the carriers that you work with, as well as customers.
I’ve learned a lot of techniques for how to present pricing without coming off as trying to “low ball” or “price gouge", which is unfortunately something that people have to be very wary of in this industry.
I’ve also acquired some strong sales skills here. I work with some of the best salesmen and women out there and I think you can carry those with you into any industry or profession.
Advice for new college graduates or young professionals? Always try to land somewhere where you can grow and expand your career. Graduating college and entering the working world is super intimidating, and finally finding a job where you are comfortable can make it tough to leave… but try to find a company where there is an emphasis on growth, learning opportunities and promoting from within.

I feel like I just had a crash course in Logistics! This was incredibly insightful and beneficial to anyone interested in exploring other career paths or simply learning more about the top industries in the professional landscape today.

Thank you so much for your time, Kaitlin! I owe you big time, as always :)

Comment down below letting me know other industries you would want to learn about in future Women Who Work features!


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Comments

  1. I almost went into logistics myself once! This was a fun in depth interview!

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