The Marathon Continues: Taking the Race for Gender Equality in Logistics

Michaela Alexander, Internal & Executive Communications Intern
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Raised on confidence and seeing no limits, Carolina de la Paz thinks big.

This truth has been evident throughout her life and career. As a Mexico native studying international business, Carolina developed a passion to learn foreign languages and immerse herself in different cultures, sparking opportunities to live in France and China at different points throughout her career. Continuing her education, she received her Master’s degree in engineering with a concentration in logistics, drawn to the field’s vast opportunities for innovation, cultural harmony, and constant change.

“When people think about logistics, they think about people operating heavy machinery, loading and unloading, and more of the gritty work— but it is much more than that. There are a lot of opportunities in logistics from working on the warehouse, forming partnerships, managing contracts and more. And that really awakened my passions. I truly enjoy what I do on a daily basis—it’s full of surprises!” Carolina says with joy.

Since introducing her first idea to her Lenovo managers in her early days as an analyst, Carolina recognizes the support system she has at Lenovo and is motivated to continue bringing ideas to the table. Eleven years later, Carolina currently manages the logistics operations for Lenovo’s PC business across Latin America – in itself, a big responsibility for a huge region. With passion for her work and continuous support from her colleagues, she still feels empowered to share new ideas. Always curious, Carolina’s philosophy is to do everything with passion – do and learn new things!

“Do everything with passion – do and learn new things.”

Determined to make an impact, Carolina began thinking about how to use her passion, network, and experience gained from Lenovo’s internal women’s development group, called Women in Lenovo Leadership (WILL), to make changes, not just for herself and her team, but for the entire industry landscape. “A year ago I attended WILL’s women’s forum in the U.S.,” she explains. “The experience was wake up call for me. I asked myself: what I am doing in my position to give back? I knew I wanted to do something powerful and lasting. Being the only female leading a regional team in the Americas, I began looking at the numbers in my own department. There were very few leadership positions occupied by women. I remember sitting in meetings and at tables where I was the only woman.”

Looking across the industry, Carolina began pulling statistics and data for women in logistics management and leadership roles (45% of employees are women, only 5% at CEO level in S&P 500), for those in operational roles as opposed to supporting functions – both inside and outside of Lenovo.

As a uniquely global business, diversity is one of Lenovo’s greatest strengths. At Lenovo, we believe that a global workforce should reflect the global customers that it serves, and this begins with leadership that is representative of the various cultures and ethnicities that comprise our internal talent. Leaders around the world hold a deep commitment to innovation and a far-reaching mindset fueled by a sense of our long-term responsibility. One-third of the Lenovo logistics team is female, which is impressive compared to the industry as a whole. Still, Carolina wondered if that was good enough.

 Upon this realization, Carolina set out to create an initiative that would highlight the need for greater diversity across the logistics industry. The program welcomes not just our own talented workforce, but also our core partners and ultimately the wider logistics community. “We wanted to put a spotlight on women leaders,” Carolina explains, “where we can get advice and insights from their journeys. From these sessions, we can inspire and motivate each other.” She ultimately named her program Women Enhancing Logistics (WEL).

Carolina says, “Growing up, we all look for someone to serve as a role model. I thought about what if I dream of being something one day, what if there was no one there similar to me to look up to. With there being a small amount of females represented in leadership positions, it can be difficult to find. I saw there was a need to create a network and pipeline for women in the industry.” At the beginning of 2020, Carolina started the essential discussions to ensure that she could gain the support from the management boards of core third party logistics companies to join WEL as well as enlist their own female senior leaders to participate.

When the pandemic hit, Carolina was undeterred – even with two young children, ages 4 and 6, now at home, Carolina changed course and created a series of online networking sessions to allow participants to join virtually. Carolina laughs, “I learned a lot about time management with my children having school from home now– from having work meetings to finding time to help them with their classes. But I do enjoy all the new time I get to spend with my family.”

The worldwide monthly events encompass topics such as change, empowerment, and defining success, leveraging one-on-one speaker interviews or larger panels to gain insight from female CEOs, board members, and senior leaders from industry-leading 3PLs and shipping lines. So far, there have been two events, and Carolina has received several high remarks from participants and colleagues.

Carolina’s mentor, Horacio Chavez, Director of Strategy and Network, who says, “Congrats to Carolina de la Paz for creating and launching ‘Women Enhancing Logistics,” a great program with inspiring speakers sharing successes and challenges in the logistics and supply chain industry. ‘WEL’ done!”

A participant of the conference, Violeta Flores, reviews her experience from the first session, “It was awesome, I have always admired Caro’s {Carolina’s] passion, how she talks about her dreams and shares them with all of us. The invitee was very knowledgeable with a great background experience to share.”

With each session, Carolina brings greater awareness and more engagement and publicity to empowering women and motivations to be inclusive in the industry. She is seeing commitments to recruit and promote, partnerships made to nurture, and alliances being forged. There are many steps to reach total equality. With that in mind, Carolina stresses the importance of celebrating the small wins in the hopes that one day an announcement of a female CEO will be just a celebration of a new CEO. Carolina encourages women to continue forward: “We need to be confident when sitting at any table, even if we are the only [female]. It is important to trust our inner thoughts, be ourselves, and be brave. A lot of times we want to be perfect, but nothing is perfect. So we must recognize our purpose and strengths, and grow by learning.”

The road is long; but her ambition is big. Carolina says, “We’re at the first step of a marathon.

As the program grows, Carolina is looking to nurture and forge alliances with external companies to reach a bigger audience and make this program an industry contribution. If you’re interested in participating in Women Enhancing Logistics, contact Carolina de la Paz.

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