Mentoring

Mentoring

Copyright 2003, Traffic World, Inc.

January is national mentoring month but for some organizations mentoring is a year-round activity. San Francisco-based Women in Logistics is one such organization.

"Mentoring is everything that we are about," said Stacy Roth, vice president of global logistics solutions for APL and APL Logistics and founder and chairwoman of WIL. "The entire existence, the foundation is mentoring."

Roth has mentored women who are experienced logistics professionals and she has mentored students. High school students also have approached the group to learn about opportunities in logistics, she said. And there are mentors and "mentees" in WIL that are men, she said.

"When I first started in the industry in 1977 women did not have a support system whatsoever. It was very male-dominated," said Roth. "It made sense to form a group to support women. We structured our meetings to learn about logistics and stay on top of the field," she said.

Women in Logistics was formed by Roth in 1981 as Women in Transportation. In 2001 it changed its name to Women in Logistics. Michele Carroll, 2003 president of the organization, said events since the group's reincarnation as WIL have been very well attended with many attracting over 100 attendees. "We are drawing higher-level speakers," she said. Carroll succeeded Roth as president this year.

Carroll's goals include building membership and reinforcing WIL's core focus on transportation. Additionally, she would like to broaden membership to "include the broader aspects of logistics services and the companies that use them."

"I think I am what the group is," said Carroll. "I come from transportation. I spent eight years with Sealand and then APL and then I branched off into a $40 million railcar leasing company," she said. Carroll then moved to Emery as director of marketing and nine years ago began consulting, she said.

Men can join WIL and two men are on the board, said Carroll. The group is for "people committed to helping women succeed in logistics and life," she said.

Today the mentoring program is informal. But the plan is to make it so that "the mentees run the show," said Carroll. "They will be responsible for selecting a mentor. And establishing contact with a mentor," she said. The association intends to formalize the program by the end of the month, she said.

The formal mentoring program will be based on materials and guidelines developed by a WIL member's employer company, said Carroll.

The mentoring program is not just for the San Francisco area - the group is working with one "mentee" in the state of Washington, said Carroll. "What we would really like is to establish chapters in other areas," she said. In the past WIL had been a national association, she said.

"Having a mentor at the level where you want to go is key," said Roth, who has been a "mentee" as well as mentor. "It doesn't mean the person winds up being a lifelong friend."

And it is a relationship beneficial to both parties. "As you mentor people you learn. It is a two-way street," said Roth.

The group seems to be filling a gap. The Council of Logistics Management does not have a mentoring program, although it is a goal of CLM and the association hopes to provide a program in the future, said Maria McIntyre, executive vice president. CLM members are interested in a mentoring program, she said. The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials also does not have a mentoring program, said a spokesperson for the group.

APICS - The Educational Society for Resource Management has a mentoring program for students but a less informal mentoring approach for professionals, said Lisa Prats, director of the communications division for the association. Prats said there are 273 chapters in the United States, Canada and Mexico. There are also student chapters affiliated with universities and colleges. The chapter volunteers to mentor those students who are part of the student chapters, she said. "They do job shadowing, internships, and lecture the students about careers in logistics," she said.

"We also offer to college students to attend the annual conference," said Prats. "During the conference we have volunteer mentors assigned to each. They take them around, introduce them to other APICS members and help them plan out their conference experience," she said.

At the professional level, colleagues will help others through APICS' leadership track to help them become officers of the organization, said Prats. There currently are no plans to create a professional mentoring program, she said.

In addition to its mentoring program, WIL offers quarterly events for its members, including an annual golf tournament held in October, an annual scholarship award and a job bank. More information on WIL can be found at www.womeninlogistics.org.