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   Vol. 23 No. 9
Thursday February 22, 2024

Why Women Matter To Air Cargo

Priya Anil Thomas

      A trade show is no excuse for indecorous behavior but that is exactly what air cargo is in danger of falling into, the longer it allows women’s issues to be advanced and discussed at meetings and then as an industry collectively does little to advance this thinking with real action.
     A closer look today at the position of women all over the world underscores the belief that what we as an industry have been able to deliver in terms of empowering women logistics has been realized in alarmingly small doses.
     According to the website Globalia:
     “Even a few years back, the transportation and logistics industry used to be a completely male-dominated sector.
     The poor perception of career opportunities is a significant deterrent in this regard.
     In spite of representing around half of the global population, the role of women in this male-dominated sector used to be marginal for decades.
     Nevertheless, in the last few years, the increased focus on inclusion and gender diversity has seen an increase in women professionals in this sector, as well as in the efficiency of the industry.
     This only proves that the e-supply chain industry, as a whole, surely could do well with a more diverse workforce.”

     If the final sentence assessment sounds familiar, it should.
     The words in one form or another serve as what most of us remember as takeaway from our last women empowerment sessions at one of our trade shows.
     But we wonder “Where’s the Beef" as that pioneering lady in the hamburger commercial forty years ago demanded from a fast- food joint that became a verbal short cut for anybody wanting to get to the point of the discussion? Click here to view .
     This year the air cargo spectacle landed in Mumbai, which in ancient times just a few years ago was known as Bombay. Possibly no one thinks about Bombay all that much anymore, but why not? History, where we have all been and still are . . . in the making, always offers signposts to where we are going. Differences can be enriching, too. We shall take a look at this reunion from a different slant of light for once, if you allow us.
     As Air Cargo India wrapped last week, we were looking at the conclusion of a great show whilst thinking about India was what to do for a few days. There was the international set of air cargo together again in some numbers for the first time in 2024 and obviously everything was about Air Cargo, and how to improve services in India and abroad, but there was also another aspect that captured our attention.
     Air cargo needs all the good people it can get to survive in the future as a viable thoughtful, rich, varied and progressive industry. And nowhere in the world are there more top women involved in making big and small transportation companies in this industry successful than in India. So the many people we have covered during the past quarter century plus some others we missed come to mind whilst thinking of India air cargo. Little wonder that India females in thought and numbers set a great example for the rest of the world. No doubt the voices of women in air cargo right now are a vital influence and inspiration as the subcontinent steps off in its great leap forward in world trade.
     Air Cargo is facing challenges in its near future and all hands that are able to hold are welcome, not only in this part of the world. We look forward to more women in the air cargo business everywhere and pledge to do our part to continue the call for equality and empowerment, as a fundamental human right, also in this industry. Aside from anything else, air cargo must realize it is just stupid to overlook the value of women in 2024. We will continue telling the story, but it is up to you dear readers to get involved and say it aloud.
India is leading the way and women in large part are the reason and we hope to give you an exceptional example in the following few lines. Here is Priya Anil Thomas, a powerhouse lady who wears two hats: she is Co-founder and Managing Director of Thomas Global Logistics Private Limited and Convenor as well at Northern Region Chapter Association of Multimodal Transport Operators of India (AMTOI).
     Thomas is a veteran, with a demonstrated history of working in the logistics and supply chain industry in the country. A strong professional with a Post Graduate Diploma in Logistics Management focused on Logistics, Materials, and Supply Chain Management, she knows the business inside out. “The way forward in 2024 would comprise Data Analytics, Collaboration, Talent Development,” she said in her conversation with FlyingTypers. She believes that the volatility in the logistics sector is a never-ending phenomenon: “While pandemic nightmares are a recent experience, every now and then disruptions are being caused due to global issues,” she said and went on to list them out: the Ukraine-Russia War, the Israel-Gaza War, Red Sea Issues, global slowdown and . . . “we don’t know what next”.
     Priya Anil Thomas pointed out three priorities for 2024:
         Data Analytics for Decision-Making - Leveraging big data analytics will help in making informed decisions. Predictive analytics can be utilized to anticipate needs and improve overall reliability.
         Collaboration and Partnerships - Collaborative efforts among logistics providers, suppliers, and retailers can lead to more efficient and cost-effective supply chain solutions and partnerships with technology companies for innovative solutions and with governments for infrastructure development can be beneficial.
         Talent Development - Investing in the training and development of your team is crucial for adapting to new technologies and industry trends. Encouraging a culture of innovation and adaptability can enhance organizational resilience.
     So we learn that technology and the human side not only should walk hand in hand without fear, but this is the recipe to ensure progress. Thomas also mentioned the way business will be done: “Meeting the changing expectations of customers is crucial. Most customers,” she emphasized, “today expect miracles from the logistics service providers as some resist to accept the logistical challenges. To serve the customer we have always tried to keep ourselves up to date with the times. We have upgraded our software, enabling us to do more and more data analysis and thus predictive analysis to make informed decisions. We are already focused on regular training and development programs for our employees to ensure customer experience improvement.”
     As a woman, Thomas believes that diversity and inclusion play a huge role at the workplace: “Diversity and inclusion are increasingly recognized as critical factors for fostering a positive work environment. The logistics sector is also making efforts to promote gender diversity and inclusion. The focus of our organization is on creating a healthy multi-generational workplace. We have increased mutual learning, cross generational collaboration and created a culture which accepts both similarities and difference across age gaps.”
     If you look at it from outside in, this is a good way to embed your business in the surrounding society, in harmony and respect, so typical of the Indian culture. In the logistics industry for quite some time, Priya Anil Thomas has been able to gauge the ability of the community to understand the breadth of change in world trade and commerce and the capability to quickly adapt the business model to sudden changes and the uncertain future. “The logistics Industry,” she said, “is quick in adapting to any changing situation. The industry has probably been one of the first ones to adopt technology with focus on implementing in their operations AI, Machine Learning, Block-chain, and Data Analytics, and it has focused on last mile innovation such as drones. We do not forget sustainability, putting effort and resources to reduce environmental impact with the usage of electrical vehicles, green packaging and alternative fuels. The industry is ever ready to be compliant with evolving global trade regulations and immediately adjust to changes in customs procedures and documentation requirements.”
     So this is indeed a solid programme completely entwined in robust, wise development. And, women in the cargo and logistics industry can take advantage of the opportunities created by digitization to advance their careers and make a meaningful impact in the industry, all the more if this is not in contrast with their roles in the society.
     Thomas also said: “Women can actively engage with digitization trends, develop relevant skills, and advocate for gender diversity. They should focus on skill development, networking and mentorship, choose data-driven decisions, stay informed about industry trends and foster collaboration.      Women in the logistics industry can position themselves to thrive in an increasingly digitalized environment and contribute significantly to the industry's advancement.”
     As for creating a better gender balance in the increasingly critical supply chain sector, Thomas acknowledged that it was “a difficult question to answer.
Gender balance is necessary in every workplace, not just the logistics industry. A diverse workforce can bring in the best of everyone,” she said. We all know that gender equality is not only right in point of principle: it makes complete business sense and it can be its greatest assets for future development.
     A great believer in publicly acknowledging appreciation, Thomas said that “achievements of women should be celebrated, no doubt. The men need to take a step forward and show they are ready for the inclusiveness of women in the workplace. The Air Cargo Industry can make sure that women leaders are recognized at industry events and conferences. More magazines should cover the stories of women, she added, networking opportunities for women should be created along with mentorship programs.”
     Priya Anil Thomas had a tip for air cargo honchos, too, in her conclusion: “The industry,” she said, “should conduct more programs in schools and universities about career opportunities in logistics industry and, last but not least, the government should also extend extra support to businesses run by women.”
     Talking to a woman like Priya, you feel that women in India are not worried about the imposter syndrome, which in many parts of the world is a valid discussion taking place, and rightfully so. These ladies in India do not seem to suffer from that. They are absolutely sure of what they are doing. Maybe this straightforwardness bears a connection with the many examples of matriarchal societies which for centuries existed in many parts of the Indian subcontinent?

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
Access complete issue by clicking on issue icon or
Access specific articles by clicking on article title
Vol. 23 No. 6
Shakers & Movers—Year of The Dragon
Chuckles for February 9, 2024
QR Cargo Freshens February
Year Of The Dragon In The Wings
Beatles Day At JFK
Vol. 23 No. 7
UPS Keynoter AirCargo Showstopper
Pharma Not Just Dry Ice In A Box
Chuckles for February 13, 2024
What Happens When The Sea Turns Red
Letter From Hong Kong

Vol. 23 No. 8
Kale Digitzes Global Air Cargo
Chuckles for February 15, 2024
No Mood Indigo For Ingo
Mardi Gras 2024

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
European Editor-Marco Sorgetti • Special Commentaries Editor-Bob Rogers • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend
Film Editor-Ralph Arend

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