As a female president in a male-dominated logistics industry, Kelli Saunders has few peers, which is something she wants to change. Saunders talks about her career path and the opportunities she sees for women in the logistics arena.
Almost 30 years ago, Saunders was hired by an entrepreneurial man, who taught her the ins and outs of logistics and the basics of business. “He taught me how to read a balance statement and the importance of client service,” she says. “Most importantly, he taught all of the young people he hired that we could do anything we wanted.”
After working her way up through several positions, mostly in sales and marketing, Saunders now is the president and owner of the company where she started: Morai Logistics in Mississauga, Ontario. “It has been an exciting journey and today I have a tremendous team behind me – the majority of whom are female,” Saunders says. “That didn’t happen by design, but because I picked the right people for the job,” she adds.
Saunders says the biggest advantage women have in the workforce is that they are good listeners. “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason,” she says. Good listening skills mean that women usually do well in sales and customer service positions, she says. And because they are great multi-taskers, women can excel at any job that requires you to do several things at once, Saunders adds.
Saunders is mentoring students at a university supply chain program in Toronto, passing on some of the lessons she learned from her mentor. “More women are entering the supply chain programs at universities and a lot of women who have succeeded in the industry are mentoring others,” she says. This, and the fact that women are getting better at making their voice heard, is changing perceptions of women’s role in logistics,” she says. “Logistics used to be very much an old boys’ network, but not any longer.”