Pharma Gateway Amsterdam leaders: Champion diversity in pharma logistics

22 October 2019, an all-female panel of Pharma Gateway Amsterdam (PGA) leaders took to the stage in Copenhagen at the FlyPharma Conference Europe 2019 to discuss the benefits of evolving cultural diversity in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

The panel, titled The future of supply chain distribution and logistics is female, urged the next generation of women working in the supply chain to be ambitious and confident to make the most of the dynamic and changing industry.

Driving change from the top

“If you are ambitious grab all the opportunities that come along,” said panellist Marloes Seesing, Global Healthcare Quality Director, Yusen Logistics. “Women can be a little bit self-conscious, but if you are starting out, let your manager know your ambitions and they will help you and stretch you, and that is the only way to grow.”

Next to Marloes Seesing, the panel was also joined by Maaike van der Windt, Head of Route Development, Cargo and Customer Experience, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol - Greta Cruz, General Manager Product Sales at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo in USA, and Tracey Ramsden, who is Life Science Healthcare Business Development Manager at Gefco. The panel was moderated by Emma Murray, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Meantime Communications.

“Change really can come from the top,” said Maaike van der Windt. “At Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, a lot of initiatives have come from our CEO, who wanted more diversity and there was a push to recruit more women, not only on the management Board, but also in the executive team, and in turn that has had an impact on our further recruitment. We still need to be more diverse, we have a way to go, but this is an example of driving change from the top.”

Make genuine difference

Tracey Ramsden said that the logistics industry had provided the flexible opportunity she needed in a job after starting a family and continuing to grow her career.

“I started in the warehouse and straightaway I had an amazing team of people around me,” she said. “I have grown in this business for over two decades and now, working at the top in pharma forwarding, I have the opportunity of doing something that I know can make a genuine difference to a patient, to someone’s well-being. “Logistics has so much to offer, but so often, as an industry, we just don’t let people know about it.”

Greta Cruz, who has spent her entire career with Air France Martinair KLM, said working in cargo had given her a range of opportunities, including being at the forefront of driving change such as digitalisation and, more recently, serialisation.

“Counterfeit drugs are a huge challenge and we as an airline are trying to see how we can be part of the process of safeguarding medicine,” she said. “We are looking to build something up that will help, and it is good to be part of that.”

Role models for the next generation

Emma Murray headed the hour-long panel discussion, which covered trends in pharma, from data sharing and transparency, to the importance of building a sustainable future for the cool chain.

“The PGA has provided a platform for a diverse group of industry leaders to share their thoughts on important developments in the pharma supply chain,” she said. “The fact that these role models are women is fantastic and I welcome the opportunity to showcase their experience and enthusiasm, but I also look forward to the day when the industry is proud to champion its diverse talent as the norm.”