Vicki Davenport is the Managing Director of The Pink Link, a UK and European logistics company. Having battled her way to the top of a very male dominated industry we grabbed the winner of our Inspiring Leader of the Year Award for a quick interview.
Tell us a bit about your career journey to date?
Having left school at 18, I started working for LLoyds Bank but soon realised a career in banking was not for me. An opportunity then arose to join a nationwide parcel company at the age of 19, where I stayed until the age of 27. I worked my up the ladder in administration, operations and sales, including being a depot manager at Heathrow Airport. Then came the opportunity to become involved in The Pink Link (originally called SBH Express Parcels Ltd) and we have just celebrated 25 years in business.
What are the top 3 challenges you’ve faced as a leader and how have you overcome them?
1) Working in a male dominated environment which meant having to be mentally strong and work twice as hard to prove I could do the job as well as, if not better than they could and gain their respect at the same time.
2) Implementing price increases in a very tough and competitive market. I’ve successfully implemented this a number of times during the last 25 years by understanding each customer’s requirements in depth and by being 100% prepared with detailed information. I also take the time to personally present and discuss the reasons behind increases, which is why we’ve kept many long standing and loyal customers.
3) Increasing red tape associated with employing 45 staff and realising that I needed outside help to keep up with the continuous changes in employment law. I outsourced to an employment law specialist which allowed me to focus on other areas of the business and has proved to be a great move.
How do you bounce back from rejection and the challenges?
I don’t take rejection personally and I have a very positive attitude, but I’ll not deny there have been very difficult at times over the last 25 years.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
To treat people how you would like to be treated regardless of their position within a company. It’s also important to with your gut instinct.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
There are many opportunities in the transport and logistics sector that most women just don’t know exist. You’ll find opportunities in administration, customer services, finance, operations and I.T. Whatever you choose, always pay attention to the detail and take time to build strong relationships with your colleagues and customers alike.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I‘ve always worked long hours as this was the norm when I started out in this industry when my daughter was born over 21 years ago it was even tougher. I had to start letting go of some of the day to day responsibilities, so I invested a lot of time into setting up systems along with in-depth training of key staff. This has paid dividends over the years and is responsible for the long-serving and dedicated workforce we have today.
How have you found mentors and sponsors to support you in your career?
My first mentor was my Dad who I learnt a huge amount from. His knowledge of so many aspects of the industry has been a huge support throughout my logistics career. I also had a mentor help my brother and I through a management buyout. His knowledge, skill and ability during this difficult process were insurmountable.
Would you like your business and hard work to be recognised? Then apply or nominate someone for one of our prestigious National Women in Business awards, so we can celebrate your success and inspire other women to do the same. There’s nothing we love more than promoting incredible women in business! Apply/Nominate HERE.