International Women's Week: Meet Coran, she's been working at DHL for over 30 years...
We interviewed Coran to get an insight into her remarkable career...
How did you progress to the position you now hold?
It is difficult to summarise in a few sentences! If I look back, some of the key turning points in my career would be:
a) In my first job at a small warehousing company, championing the introduction of a computerised warehouse management system and eventually running a small IT department to manage it.
b) Following the McGregor Cory takeover, assuming responsibility for the support, development and deployment of the WMS at the EMEA level.
c) Moving into a global programme director role and being dedicated to a high profile customer, deploying the Inventory to Manufacturing solution across all continents.
d) From this role, moving into an IT director position within Global Forwarding, with responsibility for all of the centrally managed IT systems globally.
Has it been a difficult or easy journey?
I wouldn’t say it has been easy. Each of the new roles initially pushed me outside my comfort zone;
What challenges did you come across along the way?
A couple major ones:
a) Personal challenges of trying to balance a family life and keep healthy, with a hectic work life and at times extensive travel.
b) I like to think of myself as logical and with integrity, and at times these attributes felt at odds with some key individuals or objectives; in the earlier days of my career I struggled to maintain my high motivation levels when I hit this scenario.
What was the hardest thing you have had to do?
The hardest things help you grow, although it may not seem like it at the time! Again, two of the main ones I can think of are:
a) During my 30’s I worked in Beijing and came to a realisation that all of my normal modes of operating wouldn’t work, due to cultural and language barriers.
b) I was put under tremendous pressure to commit to a schedule that I knew was unachievable and my refusal nearly cost me my job. The relationship with my manager at the time took quite a while to recover, but ultimately we delivered to the challenging timelines that we had promised and the programme turned out to be one of the most successful that both I and DHL have ever delivered.
Would you do anything differently?
Yes, plenty! For example, being a very driven person has meant that I did not at times provide the right level of empathy to those who needed it. As you gain experience and increase your breadth of responsibility, it makes you a more balanced leader, capable of showing empathy whilst still pushing to get things done.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Strike the right work/life balance and factor in ‘me time’. This is easier said than done, but it will help you do your job more effectively.
What is it like being a senior manager in a male-dominated environment?
If I’m honest, I don’t think about this much. I really don’t know what it would be like to work in a more gender-balanced environment. Overall, I see it as an advantage; being female, I’m more likely to see things from a different perspective, which helps get the best out of my teams, but it would be great to have more females working in IT to provide that extra support from time to time.
What would you like DHL IT to do to attract more female managers?
I am extremely pleased to see that we are have kicked off initiatives helping my female colleagues to build their confidence and equipping them to be successful. We are also supporting our recruiting managers in developing gender balanced teams.
I would like to see more being done to promote lateral moves within the organisation; many of the skills required for a senior IT role are the same as for other senior roles in our organisation, so it’s not necessarily as big a challenge as you might think. Arguably, this is the quickest way to increase the number of women in managerial roles. We are also looking at some longer term initiatives to bring more females into lower levels of the organisation, such as graduate programmes and collaborating with external educational organisations.