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Women can bring something new to the industry

26 August 2021

Shellea Crosby talks about how her own insecurities held her back more than being a woman in a male-dominated industry.

THE PARCEL and courier sector has a long history of being perceived as a masculine and male-dominated field, and this is still very much the case, but slowly times and attitudes are changing, and women are thriving not only in this industry but also in senior positions.

My career started in 2008 working in sales in the utilities industry. With redundancy on the horizon, I stumbled across a role working as a sales executive in the logistics and parcels industry. With no experience, long hours and finding that people weren’t always taking me seriously, I made it my mission to learn the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the industry from the ground up, which gave me the foundations of my leadership role today.

I’d class it as the hardest job I’ve ever had. However, I learnt everything about our industry; about different types of customer, different ways of thinking, different types of freight and how it’s dispatched. I loved it.

I moved to Tuffnells in April 2018 filling the role of regional sales manager, responsible solely for new business. This year, I was promoted to commercial director, overseeing the whole sales, marketing and customer experience functions at Tuffnells.

Over the years, IDW (Irregular, Dimension & Weight) carrier Tuffnells has adapted to the challenges and hurdles faced by a logistics company. After suffering substantial financial losses in recent years under previous ownership, since the management buy-out in May 2020, and after the return of experienced leadership, within just eight months the company had completed a successful turnaround.

There have always been challenges for women in the industry, however for a lot of my career, many of the barriers have been my own. The more senior I became, the more I felt aware that in meetings and presentations I was stopping myself from speaking up. Personally, I feel a lack of confidence has in the past held me back more than the attitudes of the men I have worked with. I’m very fortunate to work for a company that is fully supportive of me, my role, my ambitions and - most importantly - my views and opinions on matters affecting the business.

I strongly believe that women can bring something new to the industry. I’m able to add a different perspective – put forward the pros and cons of any decision and help keep balance when sat around the boardroom table.

I am often asked for tips to women looking to embark on a career in a male-dominated industry, or even for those who are already working within an industry where they may be one of few females. I say, know that your opinion may be different, but that doesn’t make it wrong – a female perspective can be a positive, offering insight that men may not have considered.

Shellea Crosby, commercial director, Tuffnells