While logistics has long held the perception of being a male-dominated industry, women in the field continue to gain ground. According to Gartner’s 2020 Women in Supply Chain Survey, the representation of women in the supply chain workforce remains at less than 40 percent year over year. Yet the majority of supply chain organizations have specific goals to enhance gender diversity and these plans include building their pipelines for the recruitment of women, according to Gartner.
Here at Port Logistics Group (PLG), we’re proud to have a strong representation of women in our workforce and at the executive level. Across our organization of both hourly and salaried jobs—think operational roles in the warehouse, engineering, customer service and many corporate positions—women comprise 55 percent of our permanent workforce.
When you zero in on our salaried workforce, among all levels of managers, supervisors and executives, 34 percent of the population in this segment are female.
In addition, women hold 42 percent of supervisory roles at PLG, and one in 4 manager positions. Women comprise about one-third of our management positions at the senior level. Similarly, the 2018 Gartner Women in Supply Chain Survey found sustained strong representation of women in the senior-most ranks of supply chain organizations relative to other functions.
This month, we are celebrating our female leaders in executive roles at PLG with in-depth Q&A profiles. See the links below for the full interviews.
Eva Dicecco: retail smarts
One of our most recent hires is Eva Dicecco, Vice President of East Coast Operations at PLG. Dicecco knows retail and apparel from fast fashion and what sells to the inner workings of distribution centers (DCs) and warehouses. From start to finish, she knows what it takes to stock store shelves or to deliver to the customer’s doorstep. She brings a strong operations background from fashion retailers such as H&M and Old Navy in former roles that include controller, DC manager and logistics manager.
From emerging online brands to established retailers, Dicecco also knows what our customers are seeking in their 3PL: she’s been on the other side of the table as a PLG customer in one of her previous roles where PLG provided distribution and fulfillment services.
This background gives Dicecco valuable insights into the needs of PLG customers. Leading her operations team to success is a passion of hers. She finds the experience of supporting her team members in making decisions whether involving company operations or charting their future path at the company particularly rewarding.
Janise Kring: put me in, coach
Next in our Q&A profiles is Janise Kring, Chief Operations Officer at PLG. Kring might tell you she misses being a hands-on manager who walks the warehouse floor, though she still does this now and then at our many warehouses and DCs. A former college athlete who played many sports, she credits the influence of a coach in college who encouraged her to look beyond her early goal of teaching and consider a career in business. While she was in college, additional networking paid off: a high school coach of hers had worked at UPS and Kring got hired by the parcel giant as a seasonal driver. Thus began her career in logistics.
Our company’s vital operations fold up under Kring’s oversight: warehouses, transportation and customer service. With an eye on strategy and continuous improvement, she works with Dicecco and others at PLG who oversee day-to-day operations within their regions, such as transportation and customer service.
Since joining PLG in 2018, Kring wanted to be a part of making Operations a more agile, consistent function across the company. Managing growth and change is a key part of her job, especially since the intentional pivot made by PLG in early 2019 to focus on ecommerce and direct-to-consumer fulfillment. By early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a curve ball to Kring and her team involving the many operational changes required to keep pace with the acceleration of ecommerce given the rise of shopping at home, and the shuttering of many retail stores nationwide.
Kring acts as a coach herself to her team members, supporting them on achieving their goals.
Sarah Drazetic: engineer and facilitator
In her next Q&A profile, industrial engineering (IE) is the name of the game for Sarah Drazetic, Chief Engineering and Process Officer at PLG. Her educational background is also strong in organizational development and change management. Drazetic sees the big picture when integrating a new customer into our operations to best serve their distribution and warehousing requirements – while keeping a watchful eye on PLG resources such as space and labor.
To make it all happen and run seamlessly even in the face of change, Drazetic, a long-time PLG employee, works closely with customers and many functional PLG teams, such as operations, IT and finance. For new customer implementations, for instance, close communications with the sales and business development team is key.
Drazetic previously worked with Bob Stull, PLG founder and now chairman of the board, at Roadway Express and came on board with PLG in 2009, shortly after the company was formed. She attributes a laser focus on the core elements of IE at PLG—really listening to customer needs, managing costs (including with software tools she helped to devise), and process improvement—to the success and growth of the company. (Ask her about these tools and she won’t geek out on you).
Drazetic and her team of 7 industrial engineers share a relentless focus on process improvement. Keeping up with customers’ evolving requirements as they change and grow while meeting current expectations and SLAs is a big part of the job. This means regular meetings with PLG customers and her teams where day-to-day operations and metrics such as order fill rates and throughput goals are reviewed.
Val Gart: people strategy starts here
In our final Q&A profile, people are the business of Val Gart, Chief People Officer at PLG. Gart leads the people strategy at PLG across about 1,300 permanent employees as well as temporary employees. She covers a lot of ground: employee development, organizational change, diversity, and talent acquisition.
To make it all solid and scalable, Gart uses classic and innovative approaches to HR, such as shepherding the development of an HR information system used by over 99 percent of company employees, which avoids delays and errors around paper- and phone-based processes while supporting analytics. This makes it easy for employees to request time off, for example.
“Respect” is a song made popular by Aretha Franklin back in the day – but it’s also one of 7 core values at PLG. Gart will be the first to tell you that respect is the principle which fuels her and her team’s considerations when approaching any kind of change or new program. One example of leading with respect in the face of great change occurred at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, when PLG had to temporarily reduce its workforce, only to quickly scale back up weeks later. Gart and her HR team made swift work of re-hiring laid-off workers and bringing on temporary workers to meet the new demands of the rise of ecommerce.
A self-described people person, Gart is well studied in HR and industrial psychology—the psychology of groups and individuals in the workplace. She joined PLG in 2018 after other HR roles including in the field of real estate development which shares many operational commonalities with the 3PL and fulfillment industry.
As these profiles of our female leaders illustrate, women who work in logistics are an energetic, powerful force.