Strict gender divisions between professions reserved for men and women no longer exist. Theoretically, that is but there are areas that we still – even subconsciously – reserve for different genders. How so in the supply chain sector?
Only a dozen years ago, it was rare for a woman to be found working in a position related to civil engineering, IT, or transportation and supply chain. Today, that has changed and continues to do so. At the Ziegler Group this is easily apparent where 35% of employees today are women and this number is increasing with each passing year. Most of them work in administrative, operational and sales positions, a fair number are managers but there is also a large number of women holding positions which were once dominated strictly by men, such as truck drivers, forklift operators and IT specialists. In many Ziegler countries like Hong Kong, China, Greece and Tunisia, women even make up the majority of staff and management.
Yes, they will tell you that for most of them, they could feel that they were entering a sector traditionally thought of as ‘male territory’ but that didn’t hold them back and for most it was an exciting challenge, even though they knew they would have to prove their worth. “When I joined the industry in 2011, I found a very masculine environment, and I was only 22 but I knew that the only way to make a change was to prove myself as a skilled person,” recalls Stephie Combe, Branch Manager in Ziegler Aurillac, France. “It wasn’t easy at first because I had just finished school and therefore had no experience but thanks to my persistence, I managed to push through my point of view and show my qualities and above all, prove that there is a place for me in this so-called ‘male’ world of transport,” adds Melanie Brasse, Land Operations Manager at Ziegler France.
Tenacity, persistence and resilience are certainly the qualities that have helped most of the women in male-dominated industries break through the resistance of their colleagues and environment and achieve success. However, the women who work at Ziegler also point to other important traits. “In terms of the qualities needed to break through, I think femininity brings finesse, detail and vision to stereotypically male professions, essential to success in this industry,” notes Ophelie Crevon, Branch Manager in Ziegler Rouen, France.
Patricia Knott, HR Manager at Ziegler UK, also notes that natural feminine empathy is a trait that, in spite of appearances, proves very helpful in a so-called masculine world. “Communication skills, the ability to relate to people at all levels, from the warehouse to operations departments to directors. A sense of humor, the ability to listen. Those qualities have certainly helped me a lot in this industry,” she says. She is supported by Ingrid Derimay, a sales representative in Ziegler France: “I don’t pay attention to comments that are sometimes not so appropriate, and I know how to gently but effectively bring some people back in their place when they go a little too far,” she says.
So, are there any particularly feminine traits that can help you to break through in a male-dominated industry or profession? Or perhaps women bring with them a different kind of feminine energy that is neither better nor worse but is equally effective in achieving the desired goals, even if the method looks different than was previously assumed…
Geraldine Van Reems, responsible for UK import customer service in Ziegler Netherlands, agrees, “I often manage to achieve more than my colleagues by being nice, talking lightly, joking. I believe that this is how you can achieve more than by acting tough and harsh,” she says. “Also, not to be overestimated is our female multitasking and ability to handle many things at once,” adds Mylene Beard, responsible for marketing in Ziegler France. Agnieszka Szulc working in Ziegler IT departament as a Full Stack Developer adds patience to it as well, which can sometimes be the key to success, especially in building good partnerships. “From my experience working with female developers, they have more patience, especially for beginners. With the right amount of patience, everyone on the team can feel more at ease and learn what they need to learn faster,” she notes. The ladies also find great value in their sensitivity and intuition, which certainly bring a feminine breath of fresh air to a masculine environment. “I think being organized and having feminine intuition brings great value to my work,” says Melanie Brasse.
So, can supply chain really still be called a man’s industry today? “Yes, it’s a more masculine industry but I’m in my place among men, I’m one of the team, I don’t feel I stand out in any way, I just sometimes wear heels and skirts,” Geraldine Van Reems states. “I’ve been working in the road transport industry for 29 years and when I started this subject wasn’t discussed. The biggest difficulty for me at the time was the age, not the gender difference. I think this issue is still relevant today but experience has made us approach the conversation differently, without an inferiority complex. Creating mixed-gender teams is essential to maintaining balance in a department, company or international group,” adds Sylvie Cousin, Branch Manager in Ziegler Narbonne, France. “While there is always the thought in the back of your mind that something is only for men, I try to go with the assumption that there are no more male-dominated industries and anyone with the right skill set will find their place where they belong,” Agnieszka Szulc concludes.
Women are making bolder and bolder forays into once male-dominated career paths and not just in the supply chain industry. Increasing gender diversity in many industries and professions certainly brings a lot of value to them but also to the teams and individuals working in them. However, some women are still hesitant and worried about whether they can make it. Katarzyna Dolińska, IT Scrum Master at Ziegler Group encourages them to redirect the focus away from gender and rather towards skills and competencies, “Don’t focus on your gender as a problem, but rather on developing your super skills,” she says. Monika Schneider, HR team leader at Ziegler Germany advises them not to be afraid and to believe in their abilities. She also notes that systemic support in this regard is important. “According to a British study, women’s IQ is on average higher than men’s. Women today are very well educated and contribute a lot to teams. Equality in the labor market must be guaranteed by the government,” she notes. .
The women at Ziegler Group are excellent proof that success is possible in any industry and in any position. Persistence, perseverance, professionalism and optimism are qualities that anyone can use on their path to success. These women have lived up to their potential and that is their key to success in the supply chain industry.
Building next-gen digital apps to give customers control, visibility and analytics.
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For more than 100 years, Ziegler Group’s customer-centric approach has remained at the forefront of all we do.
Today, being customer-focused means supporting customers with digital solutions that empower them with greater control, transparency and business intelligence.
We are developing these solutions now through ambitious digital transformation with a strong customer focus.
Converging across our centers of excellence located in Belgium, France and Poland, a cross functional team of international specialists from the fields of IT, UX, logistics and marketing are building the next generation of digital innovations for Ziegler’s customers.
End-to-End Digital Logistics
“Our customers are expecting the same level of interaction, communication and collaboration with us like they have with online booking and social media,” Jian Wu, CIO of Ziegler Group, says. “Therefore, our focus is to digitize the customer journey to provide them a seamless experience.”
Our digital services are being built so that the customer has everything at their fingertips: from the first contact point through to planning, quoting and booking, and all the way through to tracking and payment.
In the end, our customers will not only get a tool, a system, or a portal, but they will also get an end-to-end digital service powered by Ziegler’s in-depth business know-how.
Next Gen Applications Require The Best People
Although Ziegler Group has a long history of internally-built IT solutions for transport management, some legacy systems can be updated to current standards, while others must be created afresh with the latest technologies and best practices.
“In Ziegler, we’re implementing many new applications – innovative and outstanding ones!” says Rodolfo Gallia, IT Products Manager. “I have the pleasure to work with an amazing team. We have people from all over Europe and we are still young and willing to grow.”
Industry-Best Security & Cloud Services
By working with a marketing-leading IT security provider, Ziegler Group is ensuring that client data security is an utmost priority.
And by moving into cloud services, Ziegler Group (and our customers by extension) will have access to the best technologies to provide stable applications and reliable tools.
Our goal is ambitious – “to be the most customer-focused IT service provider,” as Jian Wu says.
Instead of looking at systems and challenges from our internal operational perspective, we are instead viewing them from our customer’s perspective. And that change in viewpoint is enabling us to transform processes to maximize customer value – which is what Ziegler Group has always aimed to provide.
During the horrific floods that struck Wallonia in Belgium, the efforts by the Red Cross to get aid and basic necessities to the residents were supported by Ziegler Welkenraedt, located only a few kilometers away from the affected area.
When disaster struck, the branch manager of Ziegler Welkenraedt – Mr. Jean Luc Cobus – volunteered their storage areas for the relief efforts. The proximity of Ziegler Welkenraedt to the town of Liège made it ideal for the Red Cross to stage and deliver supplies quickly.
The Red Cross was able to use the facilities over the course of over a month and still going on, and Ziegler Welkenraedt found yet another way to help. Some Ziegler clients had stock in the warehouse with many products that could be very helpful for the relief efforts. There were pallets of soap, laundry detergents, and other products being stored on behalf of their clients.
So the staff of Ziegler Welkenraedt called clients to explain the situation and ask for help by donating some of their stock that could be used to help the citizens of the affected areas.
Thanks to generous clients who immediately agreed to donate products, the Red Cross volunteers together with the staff at Ziegler Welkenraedt ensured that those affected by this tragedy were able to get essential items they needed.
“Ziegler Company helped us out by volunteering a storage area at our disposal. Thank you also to the Ziegler team, who despite their daily work, was very helpful. This is a great gesture of humanity on your part.” Linda Hermanns – Food Bank of the European Red Cross.
In the decades that followed the Battle of Sedan which was fought during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the world was very different than it is today, and many things were changing. Railways had just first appeared, electronic lighting did not exist and transportation, as we know it today, had not entered people’s imagination.
After completing his business studies and military service, Arthur Joseph Ziegler was gaining experience in the transportation industry. A visionary from the start, he never stopped dreaming of seemingly impossible developments that he imagined could be achieved in this industry. These dreams brought him to Brussels where, on 15 March 1908, he founded the Ziegler Company.
If Joseph Arthur could see how Ziegler Group looks today, he would surely be both amazed and delighted.
More than 112 years of constant development and pushing forward has made the Ziegler Group today a worldwide freight and logistics service provider offering the whole spectrum of services – packaging of goods, road, rail, sea, air and inland waterway transport, logistics, customs clearance, e-commerce, and other value-added services.
Today, we employ more than 3,200 employees worldwide and operate a close-knit global network with 154 branches in more than 15 countries.
Nevertheless, we remain a family business, based on strong family roots, whose most valuable resources are our people and the close relationships we make.
Strong internal relations and close cooperation with our partners, added to the completeness of our offer allows us to stay flexible and offer tailor-made services. This differentiates us from other large global transport groups and allows us to provide customized solutions instead of inflexible off-the-shelf solutions.
We focus on quality, not quantity, to help you achieve your goals.
We listen and understand because we want to exceed your expectations.
We care because we honor our core values:
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Robod S.A. is a part of the international Rubix group and has been operating on the Polish market for over 20 years. It delivers the highest quality personal protective equipment for companies and their employees.
Last year, when Rubix was looking for new partners to organise their logistics in Poland, Ziegler answered their needs best, and a fruitful cooperation started.
Ziegler organizes the entire logistics process for Robod in a warehouse in Piotrków Trybunalski with an area of about 1500 m2. From receiving the goods, verification, unloading and storage, through the entire logistics process of collecting shipping orders, preparing these orders and documentation, and shipping the orders for the final customers.
“On behalf of our client, we ship approximately 100-150 packages per day throughout Poland and Europe, starting from envelopes to entire pallets,” explains Pierre Henry, Managing Director of Ziegler Poland.
The cooperation between the Ziegler Group and the Rubix Group took on particular importance during the 2020 pandemic when it became critical to equip employees with special personal protective equipment. Time was a major challenge, but Ziegler Group collaborated with Robod to get the right supplies to Europe quickly and to distribute them properly. The situation required cooperation, flexibility, and mutual trust, which are still extremely important to us today.
“We sell personal protective equipment that ensures the daily safety of employees. It is a special challenge for us. It is a big responsibility,” says Adam Opalach, Head of Purchasing at Robod S.A. “That’s why excellence at every stage of the process is so important to us.”
Ziegler realizes that it is dealing with a specific industry, operating on behalf of a client whose goal is not to sell as much as possible, but who is more of an advisor to their customers. We see how much importance they put on the quality of all their processes and how much responsibility they take for their actions. That’s why we don’t stop at trying to exceed expectations with the quality of service we provide.
“Ziegler offers us a very high quality logistics service, which is particularly important in our sense of responsibility, which is an overriding value for us, not an empty slogan,” emphasizes Adam. “Ziegler is open to all suggestions and ideas. There is no template to follow and copy between clients. On the contrary, at Ziegler, non-standard or out-of-the-box solutions can become real. And that is very important,” he adds.
With Frederick Van Glabeke from Tessutica, we talked about how interpersonal relationships, proactivity, accountability, and a lot of persistent work help overcome supply chain challenges during Brexit.
Frederick Van Glabeke has worked in Tessutica – a part of Beaulieu International Group, a textile manufacturing company – since 1998. Over the years he has seen many changes in the company and its environment. He understands well the influence that his business partners and their relations with representatives on the company’s operations, especially when it comes to operating in challenging circumstances. “Only when working with Ziegler do I always have a sense of total commitment – the feeling that they care,” he says.
Five years ago, his company moved production from Belgium to Romania. It was then that the decision was made to look for cheaper supply chain cooperation options. Cooperation with other companies was established, but after many failures, the decision was made to again resume working with Ziegler.
“We returned to Ziegler because we needed a partner who knows what they are doing!’ Frederick recalls.
“When working with Ziegler, things always just go smoothly. The contact you have with the company is also invaluable. You always know who you are talking to and you feel taken care of. Ziegler is a large group with operations all over the world and yet you never feel anonymous in your contact, there is that «small company» touch, a personal approach, and a committed person on the other end. Plus operational excellence – service, quick responses, problem-solving, and finding solutions together,” he says.
Tessutica works mainly with the United Kingdom. It is their largest market. So the start of 2021 was a particularly stressful time for them. The uncertainty and formal complexities that Brexit brought with it were a significant challenge. Ziegler’s experts helped the company manage the process as smoothly as possible.
“Across the Beaulieu International Group, we continue to work with other companies on supply chain services. And at the end of the last year and the beginning of this year, in the context of Brexit, we all noticed obvious differences in Ziegler’s approach and capabilities compared to other companies. Only in the departments that were working with Ziegler was everything running smoothly – applications, stocking, customs, delivery…We were in awe, so noticeable was the difference,” Frederick claims.
“Even if there are some stumbles, marginal though they may be, Ziegler always rises to the challenge and never shirks responsibility. We always find a way through every situation together. It is a matter of trust, and this is something we have in Ziegler,” he adds.
We talk to Koen Depre, Manager of World Pack Belgium, the Ziegler Group’s department that specializes in the packaging of goods.
What is World Pack? What do you do?
We are a part of the Ziegler Group. We specialize in the packaging of a variety of goods. We offer complex solutions – take measurements, select the proper materials to pack and secure the goods, prepare it, and perform the packing service. The customer doesn’t have to do anything – no matter what it is – we take care of everything from A to Z.
How long has World Pack been a part of the Ziegler Group?
The history of World Pack starts at the beginning of the ’70s. At that time it was a company named Vandoren Piot, which was integrated into the Ziegler Group in 1971.
At that time there were hardly any companies offering such services and Ziegler’s customers often complained about having difficulties packing their shipments. Mr. Ziegler then decided to integrate Vandoren Piot into the Ziegler Group, to create the World Pack brand, so that we could offer even more comprehensive services to our customers.
What kind of goods do you pack?
We have three main specialties. Packaging of dangerous goods – chemicals, batteries, aerosols, etc. These goods are very sensitive to vibrations, temperature, and/or pressure. We have a lot of experience in safely packaging them and all the required certificates. Our second field of expertise is industrial, large-dimensioned goods, like machines or cars. We are also known for our experience in packing art and antiques. We once packed sculptures for the Louvre Museum in Paris, for example. It was an amazing experience.
Do you also have any experience in packaging other products?
Yes, a lot. We often work with the companies exporting goods that require temperature control, such as medicines or food products. We use dry ice to ensure proper temperature.
But we also send live animals between zoos or circuses. And once we even had to pack up a human body, which was being sent to undergo a forensic examination in a distant medical institute. We didn’t know what it was until it arrived for packaging. Everyone froze when we saw it! But we did it.
Maybe we should stick with talking about animals then… (laughs)
(laughs) The information about the content of the parcel also froze us a little.
So, back to the animals… We’ve had to prepare different species for shipments- even lions and tigers!
Wow, how do you “pack” a lion?
These kinds of animals always travel with a caretaker, who is responsible for taking care of them – feeding, watering, etc. Dangerous animals are transported in double cages, which allow them to be fed without opening the bars. We build each transportation solutions custom for a specific animal.
What was your biggest challenge so far?
Actually, it happened quite recently, a few months ago. The customer needed to load onto a ship that was leaving that same day, spare parts for the ship’s various machinery. The total weight was 12 tons. The timing was the biggest challenge in this case because the ship couldn’t leave without these parts, so everything had to be packed and on its way the same day. The team worked very hard and within 5 hours the shipment was ready.
It was worth the effort because it gained us a happy new client, who we still serve today.
Do you remember the biggest item that you’ve packed?
It was an attraction for a Chinese adventure park. It weighed about 200 tons and was over 12 meters long.
I hope one day I will get an opportunity to go see how it looks at the park. It’s very nice to know it’s entertaining people every day.
Do you only operate in Belgium?
No, we also fulfill orders in France, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and Hungary. And actually, we are able to work anywhere in Europe.
You can find our full list of services on the website. And they can always contact us directly to receive a custom solution.
With the support of our long-term banking partner BNP Paribas Fortis, we have made one more step forward in the transition to sustainability and recently moved to our new environmental friendly headquarters, proving that even in the transport industry, which is seen as not very eco-friendly, Ziegler takes many actions to save our planet.
” (…) «The sustainability aspect of the new building was thought out down to the smallest details», explains Diane Govaerts. Photovoltaic panels, rainwater collectors, heat pumps, techniques for reducing power consumption, and so on. The new HQ is Ziegler’s showcase in terms of sustainable development and perfectly embodies the company’s policies in this field (…)”