Logistics is widely viewed as a man’s world. But as more and more women join the sector every year, entering a room full of men in suits is a thing of the past. Now, in the shiny offices of the most successful logistics companies in the world you will find women taking leading positions and helping drive the business forward. Equipped with confidence and determination, these women are breaking down barriers and stereotypes with their talent and dedication. This month, we sit down with one of such women, Sandra Senulienė, Head of Key Account Management at Girteka Europe West, to talk about her daily work with clients, management of her team, and the challenges and opportunities that she faces.
Walking down the halls of Girteka Park, Sandra is not a new face. She began working at Girteka back in 2011, while still studying for her master’s degree. Impressed by her studies abroad and having been an active participant of various academic clubs during her student years, Sandra says she hoped to find a job that would be exciting, dynamic, full of challenges and with the possibility of traveling. Logistics seemed to have all those traits.
And so, Sandra began her career in Girteka in a planning position, after which she worked with ferries, before landing a position in sales where she worked with the Scandinavian market and was able for the first time to gather a team of her own. Back then, she had her first meeting with a big client too – a Swedish shopping mall. The client and the whole experience of the business trip with her manager in tow left a great impression on Sandra to this day.
Having realized how much she enjoyed working with clients, Sandra seized the opportunity and applied for the position of a Key Account Manager. At the time, there were only two such positions in the whole department. Seeing how much value the position creates, by allowing to interact with the client more intensely, and with a growing number of clients to work with, it was decided to establish a Key Account Unit. Sandra played a huge role in developing its internal processes and instructions in collaboration with transport and other units.
“At that time, we did everything by ourselves – sales, loading, looking for new clients. You were everything at the same time. Now, as the company grew and developed, we have separate positions for customer care, sales, business development, so all functions are clear and the job is done with greater quality,” she points out.
For Sandra, there are no dull days. Her work schedule is always full, involving numerous meetings: with team, clients, internal processes, tenders, pricing, etc. A lot of time and focus is spent on agreement coordination, discussions on conditions, participation in tenders, and preparation of value propositions including tailor-made solutions and extra offers.
Sandra’s main tasks as the Head of Key Account Management are maintaining relationships with the clients and assuring sales continuation and increase. The process of working with clients, as she describes, depends on whether it is our current client with whom we have been working for several years already, or a completely new customer.
“There are standardised, depending on the client, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual business review meetings. The job also involves visiting clients as well as the largest warehouses and the loading/unloading places, all in an effort to better understand the client’s needs,” she describes.
Sandra’s dream of traveling came true – a vital part of her work are business trips dedicated to relationship building and reconnecting with clients to further develop and grow business. The beginning of this year has already seen her visiting multiple clients and there are more trips to come.
“The trips are tiring but I love the moment of meeting the client. Seeing the client in person, talking, having lunch or dinner together, getting to know the person better. And the more information you gather or the better connection you make, the better it is for the company,” she comments.
Able to produce outstanding work and deliver great results with clients, it did not take long for Sandra to be recognized by her superiors for her skills and professionalism. Within one year she rose from a Key Account Manager to her current position of Head of Key Account Management.
Today, Sandra manages a team of over 25 people. According to her, the key to success of managing such a large unit is having strong team leaders. A lot of time is also spent in strengthening the team and keeping the team spirit alive despite the stress and pressure that comes with daily work. Being a people person, Sandra views this aspect of her work as very important. Good teamwork leads to good results and a tight-knit team can provide the necessary support and positivity to go about your day.
As Sandra enters her 13th year at the company, it begs the question of what it feels like working in a sector dominated by men. According to Sandra, she has never felt like she was treated differently as a woman and her successful career is a great proof of that. In fact, today in Girteka, 49% of administrative positions are occupied by women, meaning that the workforce is quite balanced in terms of gender.
“What we see when working with large brands is that more and more women join key positions. You can definitively sense that change here and I think with time the number of women in this industry should grow. I definitely think there should be a balance in the workplace,” says Sandra.
Balancing work and personal life, however, can be even more tricky. Being a working parent is a challenge for both men and women. Sandra admits that her family time is affected by her intense work schedule and traveling, but that she manages to find ways to enjoy family time when it is possible, especially during the weekends. She also praises her husband for his support.
Looking at Sandra’s example it seems that anything is possible if you only put your mind to it. And with a company that provides all the necessary conditions and the right environment for you to grow professionally and succeed, the sky is the limit with how far you can go with your career, no matter what gender you are. Just ask Lesley Tull, another distinct female figure at Girteka, the Head of Talent Management and Organizational Development: “we have engaged employees, and now we need to enable them to grow and develop.”