Dr. Sharmila H Amin – Rerouting A Woman’s Journey In The Logistics Industry


For businesses to thrive, freight and logistics are an important part of the supply chain. It effectively controls the forward and reverses the flow of goods from the point of origin to the recipient. Many companies rely on transport and logistics to keep their business strong, adding a competitive edge to other businesses. One such organization in this industry is Mumbai-based Globe Forwarding, a dynamic performance-driven company. It provides proactive, innovative approaches, and skilled services in the fields of shipping, logistics, customs clearance, and more to major clients. In an exclusive interview with the Chairperson & Member Board, Dr. Sharmila H. Amin, we asked her insightful questions about the company and her experience as a woman in the male-dominated tech industry. Below is the excerpt of the interview. 

 

A Brief About The Company 

Globe Forwarding’s reputation has been built on performance. Its core business is at the extreme limits of the industry’s capabilities where finding solutions requires open-mindedness, a resolve, and a determination that is not found in larger or more rigid logistics and shipping businesses. This company ethos is supported by Globe Forwarding’s track record in listening to and investing in innovative client solutions. Globe Forwarding seeks deep long-term relationships with its clients and core supplier partners, and it is through this approach that the company can achieve the level of understanding, openness, and collaboration necessary to develop the right solutions to the most challenging issues. The services that Globe Forwarding’s aces at range from Freight Forwarding Services for all Modes of Transportation (air/sea/road/rail), Door to Door Service inclusive Customs Clearance, to Heavy Lift Engineering, HSSE and QM trained Operators amongst many others. 

 

Sharmila’s Professional Journey 

Dr. Sharmila H. Amin was born and brought up in a meritocratic family of professionals. She completed her college education in the field of Commerce and Economics at Bombay University and embarked on the professional journey that has brought her here today. Her initial professional break came after getting professional certifications in Shipping Management from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, after which, she eventually went to get a PhD. in Operations Management later in her career.

She started handling large accounts at Airfreight Limited, one of the leading providers of logistics in the country and globally. Sharmila handled air freight, sea freight, packaged courier services as a partner of DHL, customs clearance, travel and tourism, oversized cargo handling, along with complex supply chain management and logistics for various companies and gained experience in all the departments at work. 

These experiences taught her to overcome challenges promptly and continue to thrive in this cut-throat environment. 

 

Her ‘Route’ To Becoming a Successful Woman Leader 

The idea of supporting the Engineering and Construction business through logistics and supply chain management came to her naturally, since it was pioneered in the construction business by her father. 

“The route I took was one where women were not represented traditionally and when the opportunity to be a pioneer in the Project Logistics & Oil and Gas Industry came up early in my career, I took on the challenge and proceeded to win accolades for the work done. The thrill of executing large projects and the satisfaction of the clients concerned continued to motivate me to take on bigger and more complex projects.”

Starting her career early after graduation alongwith some professional courses, Sharmila got into the business of logistics and supply chain management. She served in different capacities and in all of them with a single purpose, to ensure all the clients and customers benefit from her service, along with increased productivity and efficiency. 

Having worn many hats in this line of business, her experience at every level helped her evolve into a complete professional in logistics and supply chain management. As the old axiom says one never stops learning, evolution and learning continue even today.

 

The Strength That Comes With Challenges 

When asked about the challenges she faced during the initial phases of her journey, Sharmila said “I have faced several challenges on my way here, but each has only strengthened me to make me the person I am today; a thorough professional who knows exactly what she wants; someone who sets her eyes on a goal and does not take them off it unless it is achieved. I don’t think I have faced major problems being a woman. In fact, I have been treated with respect by most of my male colleagues. I would say it has been a good many years.” 

She also added that this could not have been achieved without the inspiration she has received from her seniors and colleagues, for whom she has deep respect, and from whom she has derived the strength to challenge herself and perform better at each stage.

Owing to the ceaseless amount of work during the initial years of her career, the company grew at a very rapid pace. She delivered exemplary results at the expense of a good work-life balance. This affected her work as well as her personal life and taught her that to be at her professional best, she must try to achieve an optimum work-life balance. 

After joining this company in 2014, when it was debt-ridden, it was a mammoth task as there has been a global recession in shipping since then. To work in those circumstances and bring the company back on its feet has been her personal goal and achievement. Being at the helm in a senior leadership position has made this impossible task possible.

 

Attributes Of A Transformational Leader 

Here are Sharmila’s mantras for being a successful leader: 

“Role models and their followers emulate many of their actions – Self-efficiency

Having behavior and character is more important than having a formal position, rules, or tradition – Charisma

Leaders are effective communicators. They understand how immediate threats can impact growth, communicate solutions explicitly, and are able to frame their decisions in the context of the team’s shared vision of success. – Communicative 

Keen perception to look towards a better future and see the small obstacles hindering smooth execution. They intuitively sense which direction their organization needs to move in order to compete within their sector. – Lead by Vision 

There is no ordinary path to innovation. There is no safe route leading through disruptive change. As leaders, we need to understand that calculated risk-taking is a necessary and integral part of their job – Tolerance of Risk

Constantly adapt to changing market conditions to keep moving forward. – Adaptability

Keep one’s ego under control and not let it interfere with the best interest of one’s team or the organization – Ego in Check.”

 

Innovation Is Key To Customer Satisfaction

According to Sharmila, every job is a project and any delay is directly linked to the country’s growth. Every job, if executed on time, is the reason for customer satisfaction and for the safe and timely delivery to a project site.

“As a 3PL provider, we own the process and take full responsibility for the entire chain. Not only have we planned for everyday activities but for an exception as well like alternative transport arrangements. We have a full-fledged audit team as well as an analytics team which by the use of business intelligence and data keep generating useful solutions.”

Being a specialized logistics company focused on Projects / O&G, its focus will always remain on renewable energy projects, infra, refinery, etc.

 

The Driving Force Called Disruptive Technologies 

Technological advances have made the logistics business easier to access and provided an opportunity for companies like Globe Forwarding to be more efficient and productive. 

By taking advantage of the new and existing technologies and trying to integrate them into its operations for increased efficiency and productivity, the company’s software division is using AI and Machine Learning to augment the efforts. The process is ongoing and the benefits will accrue to the clients and customers.

 

The Future Ahead 

“The scenario for capital expenditure in this country looks robust, particularly in the next 5 years. With a stable government that is bullish on growth, especially infrastructure, we may witness a move ahead in terms of the stalled projects. Once these take off, the flow of capital goods for these projects will follow with a lag of 6 to 9 months due to the ongoing pandemic. Thus, overall I’m pretty hopeful about the potential of growth in the next 5 years”, said Sharmila. 

She added, “The power sector will be the leading industry. Mining, petroleum, and public infrastructure will also be the key drivers. Also with thrust on renewables, we can expect an increase in project cargo of wind and solar power. “

The government’s push for the “Make in India” initiative will further boost the manufacturing sector in India and therefore the Project Cargo business, as more and more companies will look to start or boost their manufacturing bases in India.

 

Her Expert Advice For Future Women Leaders 

“Today though women are becoming increasingly involved at all levels; many women hold top positions in logistics companies and logistics departments. 

Logistics has so many facets and levels, opportunities for advancements are always available. In addition, the logistics industry tends to promote and train low-level employees to high-level positions. A logistics career can be started anywhere and logistics careers are rarely boring. 

Achievement is a personal thing, as is success & passion. Achievers are driven by an intrinsic motivation to be more, to do more. They don’t need to be told, they deliver. They don’t need a benchmark, they set records. They don’t need rewards, they revolutionize – with their grit, their performance, and their example”, said Sharmila reflecting on her own journey.