''Chasing the Dime''

''Chasing the Dime''

Copyright 2003, Traffic World, Inc.

What will the logistics field look like in 10 years? The answer is "bleak" if things continue as they have been, according to Stacy Roth, manager of business development at UPS Supply Chain Solutions.

The reason is pretty well summarized by the title of Michael Connelly''s new book, "Chasing the Dime." Corporations and their employees are spending so much effort to meet sales and revenue goals that they don''t have time or money left over to teach new hires about the business.

Within the next decade, those with industry knowledge will retire "and we are going to be left with a lot of new talent and no wisdom," said Roth, who has been in the supply-chain management field for more than 20 years.

And he warns there won''t be enough new talent to go around. Young people, for example, are not entering the field because it''s not glamorous.

Roth sees the answer as two-fold: mentoring and diversification of the work force. When the economy began to slump, many people with industry expertise, both men and women, were encouraged to retire early. New, younger people were put in place and many of the hires were men, she said.

"There is a need for diversity because we are an internationally focused industry. The more female and racially diversified expertise we can cultivate and bring in, the greater the chances of our success," said Roth. And companies that do support mentoring and a diversified work place "will have qualified and dedicated personnel, which is a direct correlation to a company''s success."

Nevertheless, Roth sees logistics as a good field for women. It''s a growing field, especially because so many companies are outsourcing their logistics needs and recognize that good logistics can improve the bottom line.

Many female logistics executives echo that sentiment. Martha Cooper, professor of logistics at Ohio State University, said results from the Women in Logistics 2003 survey - presented at the annual Council of Logistics Management''s conference - showed women in the business are happy about their careers and future opportunities.

One hundred and fifty-six female CLM members responded to the survey. Most have been CLM members for one to three years. Eighty-six percent believe that opportunities for building a sound professional career in logistics are better today than ever. Seventy-five percent are satisfied with their current positions. Results from the 2003 study were similar to past studies, said Cooper.

This year more senior-level executives responded to the survey, said Cooper. She believes this change is due to companies cutting back on paying dues for CLM memberships.

Salaries seem to be holding, said Cooper.

Median salaries, divided into ranges, were from $62,500 to $250,000 for president; $112,000 to $250,000 for vice president; $91,000 to $228,150 for directors; and $55,500 to $124,142 for managers.

Monica Isbell, principal at the Starboard Alliance Co., sees logistics as a great business for women. She also sees more opportunities for women and more women in high-level positions in Fortune 1000 companies than in the past.

But Darlene Henke, president of Denver-based Audit Logistics, stresses that success depends on the individual. "I think logistics is a great industry to be in. The transportation sector employs more than 10 percent of the work force in the United States. Transportation is a lifeline into all U.S. cities. There would be no food in the grocery stores and no cars in the dealerships without it. I feel every day I come in I am making a big difference."

But it isn''t all roses. Working for a third-party logistics provider can be very stressful, with long hours, and not everyone will want that, said Henke, who entered the logistics field in 1995. And not every woman will want to work in an industry that is still mostly male, she said.

The industry has changed, she admits. One thing you see less often today is trucking companies entertaining clients in strip clubs. "As more women go into the work force, what I refer to as the ''good old boy club'' is starting to be eliminated," Henke said. "Women are starting to be taken a little bit more seriously."

While that club is slowly disappearing, men still manage logistics operations because men for the most part have more experience and more years in service in logistics, said Henke.

Things are changing, albeit at a slow pace. More women are entering the logistics field but it may be a trickle rather than a flood. Henke is seeing "a lot more resumes from women" while Isbell is seeing some (but not enough) recent graduates entering the field. Isbell attributes the situation to the field being generally unknown to graduates.

Still, about there might not be quantity, there will be quality, say Henke and Isbell, both of whom disagree with Roth about a potential brain-drain crisis. Isbell hopes that a potential upcoming knowledge vacuum will be addressed while Henke sees upcoming retirements as "a breath of fresh air." The changeover "will give another generation a chance to come in and make their mark," said Henke.

More training must be provided to new hires but there aren''t that many places to find such training, said Isbell. "I look at myself. I''ve been in business 23 years. Every year I gain knowledge but you can''t do that overnight because our business is very, very complex. World trade, currency, politics - someone in this field really needs to know a lot," said Isbell.

"We''ve got to find a way to adapt. Otherwise we can''t serve the companies we are working for."