It is hard to believe that it’s been an entire year since our previous annual Women in Logistics spotlight. As the industry continues to break boundaries in resiliency and innovation, what better way to honor the leading ladies behind the companies that not only made it through the pandemic but who continue to grow and redefine greatness in operations, company culture, and transformation?
Here are our top 10 picks for this year’s Women in Logistics and why they made our special list:
1. Sandra McQuain
England Economic & Industrial Development District
Topping the list is the first female leader in England Economic & Industrial Development District’s 25-year history. Sandra, who first joined the “England Airpark” in 2018, is also the only female to manage one of the seven commercial airports in the state of Louisiana.
England Airpark is a 3,600-acre economic and industrial development district serving as a home to a Part 139 Commercial Airport (AEX), a staging base for military training and transfer operations, manufacturing, and warehouse facilities, and more.
Sandra’s primary focus is to provide critical strategic, financial and operational leadership that is driven by more than 25 years of experience working with businesses, government agencies and elected officials.
Beyond England Airpark, Sandra was appointed by Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards and Secretary of Transportation and Development Shawn Wilson to serve as a member of the Resilient Louisiana Commission’s Transportation and Infrastructure Task Force. She also serves on the Transportation Policy Committee and Beltway Committee for the Rapides (Parish) Area Planning Commission and is also a Board Member of Fort Polk Progress.
Additionally, Sandra works closely with the MORE Initiative of the Association for the Improvement of America’s Infrastructure (AIAI), which recruits women for the transportation and logistics industries.
2. Deidre “Dee” Cusack
Senior Vice President of Global Products and Solutions
According to her colleagues, Dee is a prime example of a natural-born leader who challenges her team of more than 1,200 to think differently and push boundaries for greatness.
Dee currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Global Products and Solutions at Dematic, a STEM-focused company that has undergone significant growth and transformation thanks to her leadership and strategic commitment to innovation.
She was appointed top her SVP role mid-pandemic, and yet her company successfully released 18 new products in strategic areas, increased Build with Standards orders by more than $300 million and generated more than 200 new patents.
As if this was not enough, Dee holds recognition for the following awards:
– CEO Award for International Trade, given by Joe Hogan, the former CEO at ABB
– 7-time winner of the Customer Focus Award, granted by Roger Bailey, President of Power Products at ABB
– CEO Award for Collaboration, given by Hasan Dandashly, CEO at Dematic
Speaking of awards, Dee was awarded the largest customer purchase order in history at Ametek Aerospace and five U.S. and international patents.
3. Alexi Cashen
Co-Founder and CEO
Alexi is known for seeking out leadership rather than waiting for it to find her. This approach has served her well throughout her career as an entrepreneur, even amid the 2010 financial crisis.
It was after Alexi moved to New York City from a small town in Colorado that she partnered with Tim Elenteny and co-founded Elenteny Imports, an alcohol logistics company. Since its launch, Elenteny represents more than 1 million cases annually and works with over 400 global clients while supporting alcohol brands as they navigate the U.S. three-tier system.
It would only make sense that given her history in thriving during a crisis that she would expand her professional horizons in 2020. Elenteny launched their Less than Container Load (LCL) route into Seattle during the global pandemic.
Furthermore, Alexi started a mentoring-focused podcast just for entrepreneurs in the sparkling spiked beverage industry in 2020 as well.
4. Hima Bindu Challa
Hima was born and raised in India, where she completed her Master’s in Computer Applications and began her career. Fast forward to 2009 and she officially pivoted her career focus to the logistics and supply chain industry in the United States, where she would remain for the next 10 years.
Hima then moved to Germany, where she co-founded limbiq with the sole intention of providing a simple and complete solution to supply chain partners.
She and her team focused on SMEs as their first target group.
“We felt that SMEs are the ones with the biggest problems in collaborating with different partners because of their size,” she explains. “We eventually learned that irrespective of size, it’s a problem everywhere.”
5. Gerri Commodore
Senior Vice President of New Business Implementation
Gerri’s success goes well beyond the numbers and global impact of GEODIS, which ranks among the top supply chain operators in Europe and the world. Her accomplishments have been achieved during more than 20 years in the industry, from operations management, inventory and omnichannel fulfillment strategies to warehouse management systems and supply chain optimization.
Her current role supports the successful integration of new clients for the company’s North Americans and South American networks–critical to ensuring operations are launched in a timely manner and within budget, according to client goals.
She is the driving force behind GEODIS’ Women’s Network–focusing on recruiting, retaining and growing female professionals while continuing to improve the industry’s gender balance. Since becoming the network’s chairperson, membership has grown by more than 500 percent—pandemic and all.
Additionally, Gerri was part of the team that was responsible for growing GEODIS’ worldwide female leadership roles from 13% in 2017 to 18% and has pledged to reach 25% by 2023.
6. Darlene Wolf
Senior Vice President, Strategic Partners
Darlene focuses on utilizing her expertise and experience to support partners from managing network relationships to navigating business challenges with shippers at the top of mind.
Part of what makes Darlene’s role so impactful is the level of accountability she holds for herself and for her team. Whatever a shipper needs, her team is standing by to deliver successful and smooth operations.
“I’m so honored to be spotlighted as a distinguished woman in the logistics industry,” Darlene says. “When our industry faces disruptions or challenges, I pride myself on being a leader who consistently promotes innovative solutions.”
7. Cheryl Emery
Director of Field Resources
Cheryl brings more than 30 years of experience to the logistics sector. Prior to her role as an HR director for the company, she took charge as an operator for the business.
Her time as an operator further supports her current role in talent management, performance, recruiting and retention.
Cheryl’s skills as an HR business partner goes beyond supporting the growth of Penske’s business as she is now designing policies and procedures focused on operator needs. In doing this, operator needs are clearly outlined so workers know exactly what it takes for policy implementation while meeting the needs of the business.
8. Yamini Vellore
Chief Information Officer
Yamini’s 30-year career started off strong with Manhattan Associates, where she focused on developing solutions as the VP of Global Research and Development. Fast forward to 2010, and she joined the Hewlett-Packard team in developing and maintaining global IT architecture.
She did not stop there as she continues breaking barriers for females in the logistics and technology sectors as CIO at Blume Global, where her primary focus is on infrastructure architecture and DevOps.
Yamini strives to ensure Blume’s solutions are available 24x7x365 to a global customer base. Her leadership role redefines standards in diverse hiring practices.
Blume’s use of Google Cloud Platform services and customer transition heavily rely on expertise that Yamini’s colleagues have cited as “instrumental” to the company’s architecture.
9. Elise Le
Head of Customer Experience
For ClearMetal’s Fortune 1000 customer base, complex supply chains are a given. When it comes to making sure customers have the best experience regardless of their supply chain complexities, ClearMetal calls on Elise.
Known as a distinguished professional in the logistics field, Elisa is cited by colleagues as possessing exceptional skills, high credibility and ongoing persistence in maintaining customer expectations–something that she seems to accomplish with ease.
“Her work distinguishes her in logistics not only as a woman but as an individual,” says one ClearMetal colleague.
The increase in efficiency, growth, and success for ClearMetal is the overarching theme for initiatives spearheaded by Elise and include Repeatable & Scalable Engine, Value Framework, Deployment Efficiency, Upsell Ratio and Revenue, and Employee Development Process.
10. Elizabeth Kauchak
Chief Operating Officer
Elizabeth has been involved in industrial real estate for more than 20 years. During this time, she has worked with countless companies in fulfilling their supply chain and logistics needs.
Prior to joining Dermody Properties, she was the Market Leader in Northern California for Prologis.
She has a wealth of knowledge that she has always been happy to share. This goes for both the people she works alongside and especially to her customers. She has fostered a spirit of diversity and inclusion since joining Dermody Properties.