How Saloodo!’s female leaders in Europe choose to challenge logistics

Here’s our second interview on today’s International Women Day with in total 11 of our many brilliant female colleagues who put all their efforts and passion into Saloodo!. Within Saloodo! more than 75% of our leading positions are occupied by women. Let’s celebrate this amazing number and all the accepted and won challenges by these women. #ChooseToChallenge. In this interview are with us: Dr. Antje Huber (Chief Executive Office), Elaine Tan (Chief Technical Operations), Anja Kappus (Chief Operating Officer), Nadine Bongartz(Team Lead Carrier Management), Melani Milenovic (Customer Service Processes Manager).

How do you spend your typical day at work?

Probably you know it by yourself – a good day starts with coffee or a nice cup of tea! Antje Huber, our CEO prepares herself perfectly for the first challenges of the morning: “I wake up at 6:30, have an Espresso and a water with lemon, wake up the kids and prepare their lunch before reading the news.”

Antje Huber new CEO of the digital road freight platform Saloodo!
Antje Huber (CEO Saloodo!)

Our morning routines we all have in common but how do our female leading positions spend the rest their working day?

Besides the usual checking of mails, appointments and calls – everyone tries to interact as much as possible with their team. Especially right now in the midst of a global pandemic, being in home office is a challenge by itself. “Every day, I also make sure to reach out to and chat with at least 1-2 individuals in the teams to check in with them, and support where needed. I deep dive on select top priority strategic / employee engagement topics with team members”, says Elaine Tan, our CTO, to make sure to stay in contact with her team members.

Elaine Tan (Chief Technical Operations)
Elaine Tan (Chief Technical Operations)

It seems during home office communication is key and not only with our own teams, knows Anja Kappus, the COO at Saloodo!: “During the day I’ll have several internal and external calls and meetings on current projects, always thinking on how to make shippers, carriers and colleagues life more digital and easier.” Working in a start-up environment means being able to adapt quickly to challenges and Nadine Bongartz is quite happy with the results: “I think we are doing quite good, we really got used to the change and have developed our flow.”

How do you feel as a woman working in logistics?

Depending on the special field our executives work at, female positions are nothing too special. But there’s one big exception and a vibe that all have in common.

“I never had the feeling that I was working in an industry that is typically for men. Even at DHL, I noticed that there were a lot of women working in different areas and I think that is great. But I was also lucky that in my professional life I never had to experience that people did not trust me with something because I am a woman,” Melani Milenovic, Manager of Customer Service Processes explains her experience. Antje confirms Melani: „In my opinion it does not matter if you are a woman or man; you need to fit the job profile and either female or male – it’s best to have great communication and an amazing team!”

Anja Kappus (Chief Operating Officer)
Anja Kappus (Chief Operating Officer)

Trust, self-confidence and a certain hands-on mentality are the fundament of a successful way to a leaderposition as Nadine knows: „I feel very good being a woman in logistics – it gives you lots of self-confidence when you manage a transport in the winter with -10 degrees, snow and wind – and all this during a strike. You can move more than you think and logistics proofs it.”

But being strong minded is not always enough. Sometime change needs time and although Elaine feels “unique and empowered” as a female in the Tech team, she points out a certain lack of women especially in the field of Logtech.

The 2021 International Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge: Which challenges did you have to overcome in your career?

You can either drown or learn to swim – guess what our female managers chose to do.

For most people work life is a challenge itself – but being a working mother forms a true super hero. Here’s Antjes story on how she learned to be brave and getting visible as a mum: “I have 3 daugthers and it is always challenging when you are leaving the company to be in maternity leave. You are coming back a lot has usually changed – in my first role I got a new boss who did not know me and when I met him first I was nervous like in my job interview again. I started in my old role with 24 hours first – but all the important meetings were scheduled when I needed to take care of my kid. It took some time for the team to learn my new working hours and also for my boss that working does not need to take place in the office but could be done at home when the little one was sleeping etc.

It was even more difficult, when I took a longer break with my second and third daughter – staying in Japan/ Berlin. My HR responsible was gone, my former boss did not proactively talked to me. I was unsecure if I could make it with three small kids in job again and was feeling not welcome in my old business unit. I needed to ask around and finally found a new place in the innovations department, which was a new topic to me and a challenge to jump into that role. It was working out great. But I learnt it is a lot about being brave, communicate during maternity leave and getting support from former colleagues and mentors.”

Melani Milenovic (Customer Service Processes Manager)
Melani Milenovic (Customer Service Processes Manager)

Personal growth can be rewarding knows Nadine: “One challenge was to change my job from a sea freight forwarder to Saloodo! – as this is a completely different topic. Or my insecurity at the beginning of my career when I had my first serious problem to solve. But nowadays I say that it is definitely worth it, I grew a lot and still do.“ Personal growth after winning a challenge is one of the best feelings to have when it comes to building a personality. And at Saloodo! we have a lot of possibilities to evolve and gain experience: “In the last 15 years, my role and scope were constantly changing and expanding either in terms of geographical scope, content or subject matter. In the first 10 years in various commercial roles, I travelled around a lot for work, at the peak of my travels I could be in 4 different countries in a week. 5 years ago, when I started working on the Saloodo project, bringing it live to market and then transitioning to the Technology focused role was an extremely steep learning curve and outside my comfort/expertise zone”, assures Elaine, “but I had great support and trust from the Group and from my family and friends.”

75% of the C-Levels at Saloodo! are women. Is Saloodo! a good place to work for women and if yes, why?

Anja: “In Saloodo! as a startup you need to be able to multi-task, because we have to be flexible and adapt our approaches and processes very quickly. Maybe it is a cliché but it is said that women are very good in this.” And not only the vibe of a start-up helps: “At Saloodo, we believe in diversity and inclusion but also in meritocracy. That means we are very intentional that everybody has equal opportunity based on their skills, experience and shared purpose and vision.”

So is female empowerment at Saloodo! really worth the hype?

Nadine: “Yes, it is, no doubt about it. But it is not just about women in Saloodo!, we are the most exciting place I have ever worked at. Such a amazing team, everybody has got the same opportunities, I love it!” Fair enough, obviously the male colleagues are appreciated as well but there is a clear opinion from Melani: “Saloodo! is proof that a woman-managed business can be a success in a male domain. I believe that women have better control of their emotions in stressful situations  and can approach problems in a more objective way. At least the women at Saloodo!😊.”

And again we learn that team work and communication is key, which Antje confirms: “Working at Saloodo! is indeed a good place to work, but I hope not only for women, but also for men. Times have changed and also due to Corona everybody learnt, that working does not necessarily need to take place in the office. I think essential for working from home is that you need to implement god communication frameworks to stay connected.”

Nadine Bongartz (Team Lead Carrier Management)
Nadine Bongartz (Team Lead Carrier Management)

How many females are there in your Saloodo! team? And if none, would you like to have more females working with you?

Our CTO Elaine: “We have 5 female colleagues at the moment. In Cologne, we have Daniela who transitioned from Finance to the Product team in 2020 and Sanaz our resident UX/UI designer who relocated from Iran last spring. In India as part of our software engineering partner Detrans, we have Nisha, Shruthi and Parvati, I would love to have more females in the team but there are not a lot of female applicants for Tech roles yet.” In our Operations team there’s even a 56% quota of women, but this can be topped by the Product team with a 72% share.

But numbers are not the only thing that counts, warns Melani from the Customer Services team: “It works very well that way. But with new team members, the most important thing for me is, whether they fit into the team and are ready for this very challenging position at the front. Gender is not that important to me.“

From your point of view: Why should young girls consider a career in logistics?

Above all Melani wonders: “It is exciting to develop an understanding of how goods are moved from A to B all over the world. No two days are the same.”. While for Elaine it means “with globalization, the logistics industry literally connects people and improves lives and that’s a great purpose for anyone, boy/girl/young/old to be a part of.”.

Nadine from Carrier Management empowers the female follower in logistics: „Girls, do it. I think this is one of the most challenging jobs for women with regards to self-confidence and growth. When I told my grandma 20 years ago that I will go into logistics, she asked me “Oh so you will be a truck driver? Why? Just men are doing this!” So you see, logistics was and still is a men-dominated industry – even just in our minds. We need to get rid of this! A woman might have another view on certain topics, so do it!”

COO Anja sums it all up: “We need to strengthen the female view on topics, because logistics business is still traditional driven and the turnaround to the new digital world needs more than just efficient processes. And woman, as mentioned before, have a longer breath.”

How do you see logistics in the future? What are according to you the next trends in our industry?

Both Elaine from Tech and Nadine from Carrier Management are convinced that digitalization and automation with “less manual and offline tasks will lead to the evolution to a more ambidextrous workforce in the logistics industry, equally skilled in tech and logistics know-how.”. With the expertise and the knowhow from Saloodo! “you let the platform do the boring stuff and you take over the interesting things like acquiring new customers. Perfect, isn’t it?”

Melani has another vision: “The next trends are further development in live tracking in the freight business as it already exists in the parcel service and by using AI in truck utilization.”, and to wrap it all up, Anja, our COO: “I am trying to find that out in my daily work with Saloodo!, as we want to be one step ahead. Digitalization will lead us into more visibility around the goods and the data flow in real-time. As a second important point I see everything around sustainability, this has to be a fundamental point on our agenda and to become a new normal.”

Our CEO Antje Huber is also emphasizing digitalization as a future topic but has also other themes in mind: “I see major topics shaping the future of logistics in the future: Digitalization, sustainability and the globalization.

Digitalization has enormous potential to improve processes for shippers and carrier, especially in the current turbulent times. It can simplify daily business, optimise capacities, give logistics customers more control over shipments and reduce costs.

For me, the digital networking of the supply chain is also a basic prerequisite for optimising the transport and supply chains as well as the eco-balance of industry, trade and their service providers. Because shippers are increasingly demanding climate-friendly concepts from logistics companies in order to reduce their environmental impact. With the help, for example, of data analytics and the use of digital freight platforms, companies in logistics can ensure greater environmental sustainability.

The third important issue of the future, globalization, will continue to develop. It has become an integral part of success in any industry and those who predicted the end of globalization with the Corona crisis were wrong. On the contrary, the pandemic has shown that globalization is not the problem, but the solution. It helps us to mitigate the economic consequences of the crisis. Thanks to stable supply chains and access to the world market, companies can maintain their operations and ensure supplies for people. This has also been recognised by previously non-global companies that will now expand internationally. These companies choose logistics companies that can cover all aspects of logistics, keep up with new trends and technologies and offer flexibility at every stage.”

Many thanks to all our leading ladies for the interviews and all the other brilliant women who work at Saloodo!.

Daniel Mahnken
Daniel Mahnken is a Senior Corporate Communications Manager at Saloodo!. As a qualified journalist, writing is practically in his blood. After studying sports journalism, he wanted to become Germany’s Next Sports Commentator, but then he discovered logistics and has been stuck with it ever since.

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