Cargo is now in my blood and I cannot see myself anywhere else: Lesley Cripps
Hillary Clinton once said, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world." As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, The STAT Trade Times reached out to Lesley Cripps, sales director, Cargo Flash InfoTech to know how she, as a woman in a leadership role, is on top of her game.
At any point in time in your career, were you ever questioned as to why you chose air cargo as a career option which is heavily male-dominated?
I have been in the air cargo industry for over 30 years and occasionally asked how I came in to air cargo. The fact is I did not initially choose to be in this industry I didn’t know much about it, there were no courses or career days to present this option. I was looking at a career in the science field to be a lab technician or a marine biologist… perhaps cargo chose me!
Singapore Airlines was my induction to the cargo industry, due to the complexities and challenges it has never been boring, the industry is continually changing which makes it exciting place to be, moving forward I have worked in the air cargo charter industry thereafter for Saudia Cargo, my career path also took me to Kazakhstan. Cargo is now in my blood and I cannot see myself anywhere else.
How did you manage work-from-home and personal life especially during the pandemic when air cargo was witnessing its busiest hours?
Due to the pandemic, social life went out the window; at least with digitalisation, we are able to talk and see our families through various apps, which was a blessing. Overall, it was more of a case of keeping motivated, exercising in front of the TV, which has now become a part of our daily lives. The biggest issue working from home is communication, virtual meetings work to a point but you can’t beat face to face meetings, brain storming and interacting directly with the team which speed up processes, and also brings motivation.
Still, the percentage of women in the air cargo industry has not improved yet even after IATA announced its campaign of 25by2025. Is it the tendency that is keeping away women from this sector that it is only meant for men?
What we need to remember is the cargo industry started out as male dominated, warehouses and cargo was not seen as an attractive career. Unfortunately it is a mindset that it’s all about lifting boxes when it is so much more. At schools and universities, there was no career day or path for logistics so unless we spread the word and start through education channels, the progress for percentage will be slow. However, as an industry, we need to encourage and bring in new graduates and IATA should play a large part through their campaign. However, women in key positions within this business can have a part to play to show what is achievable and how this industry is actually attractive.
Within Cargo Flash, we pride ourselves of encouraging women into the industry and one in every three within our organisation is a senior manager. Personally, I have found air cargo logistics to be very rewarding and would be happy to encourage more women into this exciting industry.
What are the initiatives implemented by you in your organization to encourage women to choose air cargo as a profession?
It’s all about communication and how we present on what exciting opportunities the cargo industry can bring to anyone looking to enter into this industry. Within the passenger side and aviation sector, there are a large number of women who have the ability to switch to the cargo division, and as an organisation, we encourage this. Within Cargo Flash, we have good mix and a team of strong female managers, who are a key part of taking the organisation forward. I am privileged to be a part of Cargo Flash who are forward thinking and an innovating organisation.