The technological challenges
facing the logistics industry and the celebration of International Women’s
Day were on the agenda when FlyingTypers had a chat with
the always insightful Cathy Morrow Roberson, Founder and Head Analyst
of Atlanta-based Logistics Trends & Insights LLC.
For the last two decades, the native of
South Carolina has been offering the logistics industry a rare mix of
heady insight and down-to-earth common sense.
Her storied career, prior to setting up
her own rapidly expanding business, was built on a decade as an analyst
at UPS Supply Chain Solutions followed by a consultancy role at a boutique
transport analyst company.
Librarian Searches For Research
But Cathy stumbled into the logistics industry
due to her love of research after getting a degree in history and economics
from Winthrop University.
“I had this ‘brilliant’
idea of becoming either an economic historian or an archaeologist,”
“There wasn’t a whole lot of
demand for either!
“So I went to graduate school at the
University of South Carolina and got a masters in Library Science.
“I’ve always loved researching,
so I became a librarian for about six years.
UPS & More
“During that time there was a startup
company here in the Atlanta area that was looking for market research
people. I applied and I was hired right on the spot. I worked with them
for about a year-and-a-half. One of their clients happened to be UPS.
“UPS offered me a job right as my
start-up was suffering due to the dotcom bust, so I signed up and that
was where it all started.”
Initially Roberson worked on a new product
development team tasked with finding market opportunities beyond small
packages for UPS.
“Through that group we developed what
is today the company’s reverse logistics offerings and UPS Capital,”
UPS Delivers Groceries?
“We also tested last mile delivery
“We realized quickly that trying to
make a profit out of that wasn’t going to be easy.
“We buried that one pretty fast and
I think history has shown it was the right decision.
“Ultimately what came out of that
whole group was UPS Supply Chain Solutions.
A Decade & More
“I stayed with UPS Supply Chain Solutions
for 11 years and I oversaw competitive analysis, helped out with M&A
due diligence and facilitated research in expansions into new markets,
whether they be a geography or a new product.
“In my last 2 years I was given an
opportunity to move into operations.
“I accepted that and ended up working
for one of the larger clients of UPS which happened to be the federal
Worked For USA DOD
“Essentially I was helping manage
the government’s transportation through UPS’ freight forwarding
“I managed their air freight and road
freight here in the U.S., and also international movements, particularly
in the Middle East.”
Her Brave Start Up
After a period working as a consultant,
Roberson founded Logistics Trends & Insights LLC in 2015 to offer
what she rightly concluded the industry lacked, “customized, value-driven
premium logistics research and consulting services available at competitive
She has not looked back since.
Recently FedEx veteran Dean Maciuba (right)
joined the team as Director of Consulting Services.
“After working in research and analysis
for a number of consultancies, frankly, I knew I could do it better and
more affordably for clients, so I started my own business.
“I really wanted to do it my way.
I wanted to talk more with logistics providers and startups, as well as
the shippers, rather than churning data.
“I like to get inside what’s
really happening because there’s so much noise out there.
Side Stepping Content Avalanche
“There’s so much content.
“We bring it all together and try
to make some sense out of it, particularly the numbers.
“As well as working with a number
of start-ups, helping them with their whole thought leadership, we also
help more traditional SME shippers with their supply chain strategies.
“I also work with several traditional
forwarders and 3PLs.
“In today’s environment there’s
a lot of emerging technology, and logistics providers that are trying
to comprehend all this different technology, so that’s another area
that we do a lot of work in, evaluating this technology.
A Link In Blockchain?
“For example, we try to determine—
especially for shippers or 3PLs—if blockchain is the right fit for
“What are their specific needs?
“We’ve helped a number of clients
with this type of challenge.
“Another client, an investment bank,
asked me to come in to evaluate a freight brokerage technology system.
“The recommendation was to upgrade
it; it was about 20 years old and obsolete, and freight brokerage is changing
so fast. “So I helped develop recommendations, including a review
of artificial intelligence and other tools that help with their clients.
“They ended up with a system they
are very happy with operationally and financially.”
Asked how she feels as a prominent female
voice in the logistics industry over the past two decades, Roberson simply
believes she has consistently been treated on her merits, not her gender.
“I’ve never really felt like
I was treated any differently to a man, either at UPS or outside UPS with
my own business,” she said.
“I’ve never really thought of
it as about gender—I want to be known for what I bring to the table,
not just because I’m a woman, and I think that’s how I have
She continues, in tears of laughter, explaining
her view of gender stereotypes:
“The sad thing around my house is
I can’t cook.
“Nor do I have any desire to cook.
“My husband Chris loves it.
“He loves to cook.
“So we laugh at the role reversal.
I’d rather research and write on logistics versus do anything around
the house, it’s an interesting industry!”
“More seriously, Cathy Roberson offers
some advice to people entering the industry:
“I was chatting to a young lady recently
who was planning to go and work for one of the large airplane manufacturers
and she was asking me about being a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“I told her the same thing I would
tell a guy; the same thing I tell my son:
“Do your best. Do your best, and you’ll
“Treat others with respect and, if
they’re good people, they’re going to respect you back, regardless
if you’re a man or a woman.
“You prove yourself by doing that.
It sounds so corny, I know it does, but it’s so true.
“If you do a good job, you’re
going to be successful.
“I do believe that.
“Women have a lot to offer the logistics
industry and I think the door is open to them.”
For More Information click here or contact Cathy.
Here To Listen To The Podcast.