Historically, the movement of freight was physical logistics: horses, rail and ships. As technology advanced, a divide occurred between physical logistics (involving the movement of goods manually) and machines and driving trucks.
Today the management of these freight movements requires a wide variety of skills including organization, multi-tasking, relationship building and storing lots of unconnected information in until it’s needed. Ruth Maciver, Jabil’s European Logistics Director, says communications skills are also crucial in logistics roles. “Building relationships between customers and suppliers and using time management skills, ensures that you are giving your customers what they want when they want it,” says Ruth.
“I believe women are capable of focusing on even the smallest details where money can be saved and dig down to find ways of improving the situation – this probably comes from home management. My grandmother would say to look after the pennies and the [British] pounds will look after themselves,” says Maciver. In the logistic environment, data is used to identify cost saving opportunities and you cannot be afraid of digging into a particular problem until you find the real root cause and then focus on fixing it.
“Watching the situation in the logistic market, I believe that as technology improved, there has been a gradual move away from almost wholly male dominated environment to one with a definite divide between the hard physical, manual work and the support structure needed behind the scenes,“ says Ruth.
Attracting women to fields such as logistics or supply chain remains a challenge for many organizations, including Jabil. Ruth is dedicated to making a difference and serves as a role model. She also leads by example by building diverse teams and hiring and developing strong women working in and managing our logistics departments. Ruth’s passion for logistics continues to draw more females into these roles.
Ruth’s first job in logistics was as an analyst where she developed analytical tools that are used to identify inefficiencies and opportunities. Ruth became a Sales and Distribution subject matter expert when she took part in a company-wide enterprise resource planning implementation at the Apollo Computer company. This position gave her an opportunity to travel, meet new people and served as a good grounding in all supply chain disciplines. She admits that even now she still learns something new at work every day such as calculating local taxes or how to get freight into Nigeria. “How could that not be exciting? I’m dealing with places most people only glance at on a map,” she says.
Thirty years later, Ruth has seen a lot of changes in the logistics tools that are used, but she says that the basics have stayed the same. Good processes, good supplier working relationships and good customers communication make all the difference.
“I love working with younger people in our organization, who have enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge and I think we have some great people coming up behind us and I would love it if more were women,” says Ruth.
Ruth Maciver is Jabil’s European Logistics Director. She joined Jabil in 2003 as a European Logistics Manager. Prior to Jabil, Maciver has held various logistics, customs compliance and customer service roles with Hewlett Packard, Philips, Motorola and Solectron. Ruth holds a Master of Arts in History and English from the Aberdeen University in Scotland and various international trade and logistics certifications.