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Supply chain jobs for women: Exploring gender disparity and diversity | Value Chain Asia

Supply chain jobs for women: Exploring gender disparity and diversity | Value Chain Asia

Exploring gender disparity and diversity through Nicole Tretwer

In a sit-down interview, Nicole Tretwer, Swarovski’s former Head of Logistics Services in Asia- Pacific (APAC), shared with podcast host Amos Tay the importance of addressing gender disparity and increasing the visibility of women to usher diversity in supply chain jobs. She tackled omnichannel marketing and e-commerce logistics based on her experiences as well.

Tretwer has been working in the industry for decades. She is now the Vice President of Business Development Integrated Logistics at Kuehne+Nagel which is a global transport and logistics company.  

The need to redesign hiring processes

For Tretwer, there is a need to dissolve inherent biases that downplay women in leadership roles. Another roadblock was the exhaustive job qualifications that discourages aspiring female applicants.  Her solution? Make the hiring process multigender and multinational.

“It is very challenging, and it takes courage to stand out there, be loud, noisy, and to have an opinion.”

She suggests increasing visibility on LinkedIn, the largest professional network on the internet. This way, opportunities for meaningful discourse on supply chain occurs. According to Tretwer, beyond being afraid, one should be proactive.

“I think it’s very, very important that women in supply chain start to stand out more. We have a few very prominent women in the network globally, which is fantastic.”

Often, 10 females out of 100 employees work in a supply chain venture. Of which, usually only one female proactively step-up and makes her presence in the industry apparent.  A notable breakthrough was Michelle Ho’s attainment of becoming the United Parcel Service (UPC) President in the APAC region.  Michelle is the first female to hold the said position.

Another is Ong Siew-Wei, who got a remarkable appointment at DB Schenker, a supply chain management and logistics solutions provider. She is now the CEO and President of Schenker-Seino Co. in Japan and also CEO of DB Schenker’s Northeast Asia Cluster.

“There’s lots of things we can do, and we should do, right? And I think these two nominations are, of course, a step in the right direction. And I hope it exposes many more women that are working in supply chain.”

Swarovski’s marketing approach

Doing ominichannel marketing made Tretwer and her former Swarovski team aware of any shows or events that may drive demand.  It required them to have close communication and collaboration with their sales and marketing teams in different countries. In this way, they are able to cater to demands effectively.  

Swarovski initiated the leveraging of their technology to bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. They are now using virtual and augmented reality to give customers the ability to try on jewelry virtually.

 “We’re really working on that forefront to really go digital so that you (customers) can try on your jewelry online or offline”

The brand also has “Instant Wonder Stores,” which cater to both existing and new customers.  Said stores enable customers to experience the brand and make purchases in-store or online.

“It will always be a mix of brick and mortar and online. I think you need to give people that space to experiment and to experience what the brand is about to tell you a story.”

She noted that they want people to come and play in their stores. Apart from that, they want to give them the opportunity to make their purchase wherever they are, whether in-store or online.

Ushering speed and efficiency

Swarovski utilizes digital fashion shows to showcase new products and connect with customers. However, this approach poses a challenge for e-commerce logistics and inventory management.

“You need to think about where to place your inventory in the smartest way, in the smartest location, so that you can fulfill your orders in a rather speedy manner.”

For her, the key to success in this scenario is understanding customer expectations for lead time and strategically placing inventory in the most efficient locations. There should be a team in place to handle peak demand and fulfill orders as quickly as possible, with a goal of same-day or next-day delivery.

Takeways

Tretwer put emphasis on the need for gender diversity by improving hiring processes and encouraging women to be visible in the supply chain industry. She believes that the presence of women trailblazers in Asia is an initial step towards realizing diversity in the workplace.

Furthermore, Tretwer eagerly provided an overview of Swarovski’s omnichannel approach. Her first-hand experience highlighted the provision of excellent customer service, both online and offline. Notably, she opened up about the use of virtual and augmented reality in letting customers experience wearing Swarovski’s products.

As her ending note, Tretwer encouraged that people should be shown that the supply chain industry has changed. It goes beyond the traditional warehouse, trucking, and spreadsheets. There are now so many different and exciting supply chain jobs.

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