ACW spoke to Nadia Ribeiro, managing director for Latin America at CEVA Logistics, about her life in the cargo and logistics industry.
ACW: Was logistics an industry you ever envisioned yourself working in?
Nadia Ribeiro: I can tell you that I started [in this industry] by coincidence!
I am originally from Jordan and my family immigrated to Brazil when I was a teenager. When I landed here I was very upset. I was a teenager. I didn’t want to leave my friends and my home.
So I thought I’d better find a job at an airline so I can get free tickets and be able to go back and visit with my friends!
I went to Air France in Sao Paulo I asked if they had a job and they said they had one in the cargo department, in cargo reservation.
My customers were the freight forwarders and I soon got invited to join one of them and this is how I went into the industry. I really fell in love with the business and really enjoyed it.
ACW: Living in Egypt, Jordan, UK, US and Brazil, you’ve experienced many cultures. How have you drawn on these experiences in your career?
Ribeiro: Having experience in different cultures really helps understand [people’s] mind-set. I speak with customers in different countries and decisions are made in a global environment, so having had that international exposure is really very helpful.
I always encourage people if they have the opportunity to make such an experience. It’s always very enriching and afterwards can help you in any kind of scenario.
ACW: In your career, how have you seen the industry change in terms of gender equity?
Ribeiro: I have participated several times in my career in working groups where we encourage and develop women to move up in their own careers.
I’m always telling the girls in my area that they shouldn’t give up one thing for the other [family or career]. You shouldn’t have to choose.
Everybody [in the industry] knows what they have to do. They have to have open recruitment in top positions and to always have female candidates. Of course, you have to be careful to choose the right person for the right job.
In big companies, having internal work groups and seminars to prepare ladies who are interested in growing in their careers is also important. To have real experiences where you show what you’re actually doing and not just trying to match a statistic.
ACW: What’s your favourite part of your job?
Ribeiro: I love it all! I am always asking myself when the right moment to retire is and I’m always putting it off! I’ve decided not to set a date. Why should I stop if I don’t feel like stopping!
I really enjoy leading the team. I love motivating them and creating that team spirit. We know we’re going in the same direction and fighting for the same thing.
Ribeiro: You need to enjoy cultural diversity because this is a very international job. You also have to be somebody is able to interact with different cultures and different mentalities within different situations.
I would also say: You can have it all! You can have a family, you can have a degree, you can have a lot of things for yourself and you can have a career. If you organise yourself, you don’t have to give up anything to have your career.