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Being a female leader in logistics: Tracey’s story

Comment | 14 August 2020

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Tracey Clifford, Account Director at Wincanton, was recently shortlisted in the leader category for the Supply Chain Award at the 2020 Amazon Everywoman in Transport and Logistics Awards.

We caught up with her to talk about being a female leader in logistics, what inspires her in her job, and the advice that she would give to young women looking at careers in the supply chain industry.

Congratulations on being a finalist at the 2020 Amazon Everywoman in Transport and Logistics Awards. What does it mean to you to be nominated? 

I’m overwhelmed. I know so many amazing leaders within this industry; to be shortlisted as a finalist is a huge endorsement of me personally by both Wincanton and Everywoman.

I feel a responsibility to support and mentor females within the transport and logistics profession in order to enable them to realise their true potential and achieve their aspirations.

What led to your first step into transport and logistics?

My introduction into transport and logistics was working as a Financial Reporting Manager within Ryder plc, where I reported on regional financial results for the rental division.

I quickly diversified into logistics, with responsibility for reporting UK Logistics results. This is where I got the real bug for understanding what drives performance and customer satisfaction, while understanding the commercial impact of decisions.

What challenges have you experienced as a woman in the transport and logistics industry?

I have experienced a number of challenges. Being the only female manager within a logistics contract was initially intimidating, particularly in senior meetings, but my peers quickly accepted me and recognised that I brought a different way of thinking.

My worst experience came after being promoted to a role as Distribution Centre Manager; one question I faced was ‘why would someone like you be given a job like that?’.

What advice would you give to other women looking to succeed in the industry?

Ensure you build yourself a strong support network with people you can approach for support and advice. Don’t be afraid of asking ‘stupid’ questions, as it is guaranteed someone else will be thinking the same thing.

Name three key things you think are important to succeed as a woman in the industry

Be aware of the balance between assertiveness and aggression. Unfortunately, women’s behaviours are still often challenged versus our male peers within the industry.

Ensure you develop a strong support network, both internally and externally to the business you work within.

Have the confidence to take risks. Go outside of your comfort zone and volunteer for projects - it’s all about self-belief.

What woman has positively impacted you in your career? What lessons has she taught you?

There are so many that it is difficult to call one out. If I was pushed, I would say Joanne Hilton stands out for the role she played as my mentor when I moved from a financial to an operational management role.  She helped me understand the power of being a leader, and how our behaviours and manners impact so many people around us.

What do you want to accomplish in the next year?

I have been affected in both my work and personal life, including the sad loss of friends, by COVID-19.  This has prompted me to challenge my personal goals and aspirations, but more importantly what I want my legacy in this life to be – I appreciate this is very deep.

In the next year I would like to personally contribute to individuals’ welfare; whether this be with further engagement and activity with Action Aid, or by participating in a more local activity where I can utilise my skills.

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How can we help?

Have a supply chain question, need some help, just want a chat? Contact Wincanton today.