Breaking Barriers and Driving Innovation: Insights from a Female Leader in Logistics Technology

Mihaela Isac

Chief Information Officer of DHL Supply Chain Asia Pacific

In a male-dominated industry like logistics technology, breaking barriers and achieving success as a female leader is no small feat. We had the pleasure of speaking with Mihaela Isac, Chief Information Officer of DHL Supply Chain Asia Pacific, who has not only overcome the challenges of being a leader in the male-dominated industry but has also harnessed those experiences to fuel her career growth.

Let’s dive into her inspiring journey.

Focusing on Strengths

Mihaela’s first encounters of a predominantly male environment was during her education years where her focus and major were in STEM and Engineering. When she entered the workforce, the male-dominated nature of her industry felt familiar to her. However, she credits her success to the presence of female role models throughout her career, who inspired her to follow in their footsteps. Additionally, she acknowledges the support she received from male managers who mentored her throughout her career

Reflecting on her experiences, Mihaela notes that regardless of where you are in your professional development, there will always be naysayers questioning your qualifications due to your age, experience, and gender. To overcome these stigmas, she emphasizes the importance of focusing on one’s strengths and delivering value in the role one occupies, rather than spending time justifying their presence. By maintaining this mindset, Mihaela has thrived as a leader in her field.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusivity for Innovation

Mihaela firmly believes in the power of diversity and inclusivity in driving innovation and transformation. To promote these values, she highlights the significance of awareness and education regarding unconscious biases. Regular training and a leadership team that embodies these values are vital to creating a culture of inclusion and belonging.

Mentorship is another essential aspect of promoting diversity. Mihaela personally mentors younger talents by offering support and guidance to help them thrive in their careers. When it comes to hiring, Mihaela and her team actively seek out diverse candidates, casting a wider net to ensure a rich pool of talent that complements their existing skills and expertise.

Measurement is crucial in improving diversity and inclusion efforts. DHL sets goals and aspirations for diversity targets, such as the percentage of female employees in leadership positions. Regularly tracking these numbers allows the organization to gauge the impact of their initiatives. Mihaela firmly believes that a diverse workforce leads to a stronger organization and better outcomes in performance.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

To stay up-to-date with emerging technology trends, Mihaela adopts a multifaceted approach. She keeps her finger on the pulse of the industry through participation in external events, conferences, and publications. Networking with peers, both virtually and in person, allows her to exchange insights and ideas.

At the organizational level, DHL Supply Chain has a structured process to embrace innovation and remain at the forefront of technology. This involves running proof of concepts and pilots to evaluate the potential of new technologies in real-world settings. Collaborating with vendors and suppliers, they strive to evolve the technology and deploy new and improved products that align with their business strategy. Rather than chasing every new trend, they adopt a clear and focused approach that makes business sense. This approach has resulted in numerous successful innovation projects for DHL Supply Chain, with many more on the horizon.

Advice for Women in Technology and Logistics

Mihaela urges women not to be afraid to pursue careers in technology or the logistics industry, emphasizing the need for their presence in these fields. She believes that women have much to offer and that organizations perform better when diverse skill sets are represented.

In fact, Mihaela herself transitioned into IT from management consulting later in her career, demonstrating that it is possible to change your career trajectory in the rapidly evolving technology industry. The Road Ahead for the Logistics Industry

Looking ahead, Mihaela identifies several trends that will be key for the logistics industry. These include automation and robotics, which enables faster, more efficient, and safer operations. She foresees increased automation in warehouses, automated guided vehicles, and robots to assist human tasks such as picking and offloading.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are also on everyone’s radar. While there is a lot of uncertainty on the role of AI, Mihaela thinks its possibilities are endless. For example, AI can be utilized in customer service, which can predict demand and write code and documentation.

While sustainability is not a technology trend, its hype and popularity will push companies to optimize operations to achieve their sustainability goals.