Entrepreneur and logistics leader Nicole Glenn weighs in on finding hope for transforming the industry and how candor can help supply chains move faster and smarter.

Nicole Glenn on the Power of Hope and Transforming the Logistics Industry

2024 is coming at us fast and the supply chain is front-and-center when it comes to geopolitical tensions and wars plaguing the globe. Just this week, retail brands called for safe travel on the Red Sea amidst growing rates and delays and regional fighting that has cost over $80B in inventory. Yes, don’t forget the pirates. Just as piracy has eased up on other shores along Somalia, it’s on the rise again there and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, years into the Russian war and attempted invasion of Ukraine, the world’s seventh-largest producer of grains still hinges on a deal involving the Black Sea, a central outlet for continuing attacks.

While wars and conflicts have sparked new supply-chain challenges, the dire need for sustainability and the rise of global warming is still a top priority for businesses. Rising sea levels and major American cities like New York gradually sinking has climate scientists on high alert and raising the alarm for government and commercial organizations.

There are more complexities for logistics and supply chain than ever, and that means opportunities for fresh approaches and deliberate moves forward. There was a ton of progress for Women In Supply Chain™ last year with a surge in executive representation resulting in more activity for women across the chain. Even while frontline representation stagnated at 31%, the overall number of women in the supply chain community made a 5% increase—a trend that continues in our post-Covid reality.

To face changing market volatility and new complications, more organizations are investing in diversifying their workforces and letting women take the lead. At Let’s Talk Supply Chain, we’re honored to feature Women In Supply Chain™ smashing traditional gender roles across global logistics, transportation, and manufacturing. These stats show that Women In Supply Chain™ drive faster, bigger leaps forward, and more profitability while empowering more collaboration across the globe.

Women In Supply Chain™ inspire us, they give us hope for finding novel solutions in a fast-evolving world. We hope our Women In Supply Chain™ blog series motivates female professionals looking to ascend far beyond glass ceilings.

Let’s Talk Supply Chain’s Women In Supply Chain™ program, and these features show that investing in your female workforce is a formidable competitive advantage. Empowering women in your ranks is proven to propel higher revenue and ROI. More than half of businesses dedicated to gender equity and diversity have 50% higher profitability and 61% higher revenue growth than competitors. Over 70% rank highest in customer satisfaction.

This month, we’re excited to feature Nicole Glenn, the Founder and CEO at Candor Expedite. Nicole boasts over two decades of industry experience and is known for her passion for solving problems, coaching others in freight, and her commitment to continual learning. She hosts the Ladies Leadership Coalition podcast sharing insights and stories from women leaders across logistics and other industries. Hailed as a Top Woman in Logistics and a Distinguished Woman in Logistics by Women in Trucking and Northwood University, Nicole is a thought leader in the space who gives back—sitting on The Gift of Freedom board. She was also a recipient of the 2023 Women In Supply Chain™ award, presented by Food Logistics and Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

1. Where did your supply chain journey start?

Like many others, my journey in the supply chain industry began quite unexpectedly. At the age of eighteen, I stumbled into logistics, recruited during one of my shifts at a local automotive store. Starting at a small transportation brokerage, I delved into the intricacies of managing a small business while attending courses at a community college in the Chicagoland area during the evenings. Initially, I never envisioned transportation becoming my lifelong career. I became immersed in the chaos of the industry and discovered a passion for contributing to the movement of goods and the intricate dance between manufacturers, carriers, and drivers.

In those early days, mentioning that I worked in logistics often raised eyebrows, especially as a young woman. Despite the skepticism, I persevered, driven by my love for problem-solving and the satisfaction of making things happen for clients and partners. Over eight years, I honed my skills in operations, embracing the challenges that came with it. 2008, I transitioned to transportation sales, expecting it to be a seamless shift, given my experience and communication skills. Little did I know that this move would reshape my mindset, emphasizing individual growth and putting me in a leadership role for the first time.

Over the next four years, I navigated the challenges of transportation sales and contributed to the company’s growth. In 2011, I took a significant step forward when I was appointed the company’s President, marking my entry into executive leadership. Despite initial discomfort and concerns about leading change, I embraced the role, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and personal development within the team. Witnessing the transformative impact on individuals and the company, I found a new passion for developing people and stayed committed to leadership roles.

As my journey unfolded, so did the conception of Candor Expedite, which took root in my mind two years before its inception. Fueled by a desire to create a company with a distinct mission, I recognized that venturing out on my own was the only way to manifest that vision securely. The name Candor Expedite was a deliberate move to reflect my experiences of 18 years in logistics where I witnessed pervasive dishonesty causing disruptions in the supply chain. I envisioned a company that would cut through the confusion, providing clarity, honesty, transparency, and exceptional service to manufacturing clients.

2.  Have supply chain mentors helped your professional momentum?

I’ve been fortunate to have multiple mentors who significantly altered my perspectives, providing a secure environment for personal growth, vulnerability, and incorporating their feedback to effect positive changes in my life. Embracing mentorship stands out as the most impactful leap I’ve ever taken.

In 2020, amid the pandemic, I recognized my isolation while running a company based solely on business books and my own knowledge, realizing its limitations. Determined to broaden my network, I engaged with ten different individuals in a month, leading to transformative outcomes. Opening up to mentorship was crucial—I attended conferences, spoke with people in my community, and utilized LinkedIn to connect with professionals in my industry. Joining relevant LinkedIn groups proved invaluable.

A key lesson learned was not being afraid to ask people for their time. I approached potential mentors with a well-thought-out agenda, sharing what I sought from the mentorship. Taking initiative with mentors is vital; they are busy individuals, and ongoing conversations require proactive engagement.

In 2021, I became a member of Vistage, a CEO group facilitating collaboration with fellow executives, exposure to insightful speakers, and leveraging my chair leader as a coach. Mentorship, in its diverse forms, has not only spurred fresh perspectives, illuminated blind spots, and enhanced my leadership skills with my team but has also played a pivotal role in decision-making and learning how to scale a business.

I must emphasize that I wouldn’t have been able to grow this far without my network and mentors. They mean the world to me, providing guidance, support, and invaluable insights that have shaped both my professional journey and the success of my business.

3.  What’s your experience working in a male-dominated industry?

Having stepped into the male-dominated trucking world in 2000, my journey has been an odyssey of resilience and growth. I had and still have male mentors who generously took me under their wings, imparting wisdom beyond my wildest expectations. The scarcity of women in the industry was palpable, but I chose to view it as an advantage rather than a hindrance.

My gender did not escape notice, and I encountered situations that irked me. However, I steadfastly refused to let these moments become obstacles. The organizations I aligned with were not just workplaces but reflections of my values. These companies stood for principles I believed in, providing a supportive backdrop for my aspirations.

Reflecting on the 2023 Women in Trucking (WIT) Index report, I can’t help but marvel at the positive trajectory we’ve embarked upon. The statistics reveal a notable surge in the representation of women in the trucking industry, a stark departure from the historical norms of the past two decades. While the data shows a slight dip in the percentage of women in leadership roles from 39.6% in 2022 to 36.9% in 2023, the overarching trend still underscores a significant and sustained presence of women in leadership positions. This nuanced fluctuation is a natural part of the ongoing organizational evolution within the trucking industry, where the focus is increasingly on genuine equality and meritocracy.

The Women in Trucking Association, where I’m proud to be a member, has played a pivotal role in advocating gender diversity and inclusion. With around 8,000 members across over ten countries, the association aligns with the positive trends identified in the report, working tirelessly to encourage women’s employment in the trucking industry and minimize the obstacles we face. As the trucking sector continues its evolution, these trends promise not just progress but a future where opportunities for women abound, creating a workplace that mirrors the diversity of the broader community. My personal experience in this journey only reinforce my belief that we are steering towards a more inclusive horizon.

4. When did you find your voice in your supply chain career?

I’m on a continuous journey of finding my voice, touching on it through podcasts, conversations with mentors, and advice sessions for others. Each moment I feel everything has come together is followed by the realization that there’s more work ahead. It’s an ongoing process, and while I’ve had about ten of those defining moments, I eagerly anticipate the next one hundred that will shape my evolving self.

5.  What advice do you have for Women In Supply Chain™ and others looking to start a career in the industry?

If I could turn back time, I’d share a piece of advice with my past self: things will fall into place, and some things are beyond your control—learn to let go. Focus on continuous personal growth, professional development, and expanding your network. Don’t hesitate to ask boldly for what you want, whether it’s a new position, the ability to tackle a project, or finding a mentor. Don’t worry about what others might think; what you perceive as a potential negative is often not even on their radar.

Step out of your comfort zone. Speak up, share your opinions, and support other women. We all need each other to thrive and make a greater impact in our industry. Embrace LinkedIn posts, compose those emails to your boss—go for it, always. Diligence leads to success, but so does vulnerability and an open mind about your blind spots. Transform your knowledge into decisive actions; staying passive won’t take you far.

6.  Who do you admire in and outside of the supply chain?

I hold admiration for several individuals, and among them is Sarah Barnes-Humphrey. She consistently puts herself out there, embracing her identity, and actively pursues her mission in the supply chain. Sarah is a positive force in the industry, striving for greater equality for women and empowering them to navigate life’s challenges and excel in their careers.

Another remarkable individual is Sharon Siar, the driving force behind Saving Our Sisters. Sharon’s dedication to those in need is evident in her mentoring efforts and readiness to take on various roles within the industry. With over 30 years of experience in the supply chain, she not only imparts valuable knowledge but also recently established a non-profit offering counseling services to survivors of trafficking.

Kristy Knichel, a second-generation business owner, has triumphed over numerous challenges. She has built a powerhouse of a company in Pittsburgh dedicated to lifting women, with a strong focus on achieving a balanced workforce. Kristy’s commitment extends to mentoring individuals, and her heart of gold shines through in all her endeavors. She has been a valuable teacher to me, and I am genuinely grateful for her shared wisdom and guidance.

Ellen Voie, the founder of Women in Trucking, is a trailblazer aiding women in transportation. Elevating awareness and implementing programs through her association, Ellen actively uplifts and encourages female drivers. Her dedication extends to educating young females about the diverse opportunities available to them in logistics.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have these inspiring women in my life. I extend my appreciation to countless others who, like ocean currents, are creating waves of positive change beyond measure.

7.  What have you learned on your supply chain journey so far and what’s next?

So, this whole journey from working in logistics to being an exec and diving into entrepreneurship has been a real revelation for me. Having mentors around has been like gold—giving me the kind of feedback I need to keep getting better. One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m never quite satisfied, and while that might sound cool, it’s also a bit of a challenge. Imagine always wanting more, year after year.

I’ve had to admit to myself that I’m not great at slowing down and appreciating the little wins. You know, the stuff that adds up to the big picture, but you only see it when you look back. Answering these questions for the blog series has made me realize that this journey is always evolving. It’s a constant push to do better, and honestly, that’s what keeps me going. But it’s also about finding that balance—holding onto yourself, giving yourself room to breathe, and accepting that it’s okay to switch between running, walking, sprinting, and even crawling. It’s never a consistent sprint.

8.  What does your Women In Supply Chain™ feature mean to you?

Being featured in the Women In Supply Chain™ Series fills me with pride, knowing that women are actively supporting each other in the dynamic realm of transportation and logistics. The strides we’ve made in this industry are significant, and our commitment to progress remains unwavering. By hearing the experiences and narratives of others, we can continue advancing.

I aspire for my story to serve as inspiration, encouraging fellow women to join me in my mission—whether within my organization, as entrepreneurs creating their own paths, or by boldly seeking promotions and career transitions. Reflecting on my journey, I acknowledge that sidestepping certain challenges could have propelled me further. Gratitude fills me as I recall the invaluable guidance from mentors who walked beside me, facilitating my learning and impact.

Through this article, I aim to share a glimpse of wisdom and hope. My wish is that it sparks positive changes and courageous leaps in the lives of others, fostering a community where women uplift and empower one another.

 

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Meet Our Sponsors

GoFreight is proud to sponsor the Women In Supply Chain™ blog and podcast series, recognizing women’s vital role in the industry and the need to highlight their contributions and experiences. We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the supply chain field and are honored to support initiatives that empower and inspire women in their professional journeys.

Food Logistics and Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s Women In Supply Chain™ award, sponsored by Let’s Talk Supply Chain podcast and Blended Pledge project, honors female supply chain leaders and executives whose accomplishments, mentorship, and examples set a foundation for women in all levels of a company’s supply chain network.

 

About the Author

Let's Talk Supply Chain Nicole Glenn on the Power of Hope and Transforming the Logistics Industry 1

Naomi Sylvian is a content marketing leader with more than 17 years of experience, and the editor of Let’s Talk Supply Chain™’s Women In Supply Chain™ series. Her works have appeared on Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider, The Muse, and Yahoo, and have been mentioned by The New York Times Online. Naomi mentors at-risk teens to fight recidivism and contribute on a local level, working with the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. Subscribe to her LinkedIn newsletter, The Chain Explained, for all things Supply Chain broken down with as many pop-culture references as possible, or view her marketing portfolio online.          

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