Only 21 per cent of apprentices in Australia’s transport and logistics sector were women as of 2021, according to the Australian Industry Standards, Transport and Logistics Industry Outlook. However, while they may be fewer in number, there are many high-calibre women working in the industry.
Here are just a few examples of these inspiring women in supply chain management, both here and overseas. Women who want to follow their example and lead in this essential and changing industry should consider an advanced education in supply chain and logistics management.
Sharon Middleton – Director, Whiteline Transport
Whiteline concentrates predominantly on South Australia to Western Australia routes and may well have been the first company to cross the Nullarbor Plain to Perth with a B-double and B-triple combination.
Sharon Middleton has been instrumental in turning Whiteline Transport from a minor operation into this South Australian trucking powerhouse. A 38-year director of the company that her partner Bob established, Middleton has done everything from accounts to HR, and compliance to sales. Middleton joined the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) in 2002 and is the President of the organisation at the time of writing.
In 2009, she decided to find out what life was like behind the wheel of a semi-trailer and obtained a heavy vehicle licence.
Today, she is one of the most eloquent advocates for women’s representation in the industry.
Refer to Middleton’s LinkedIn profile.
Nola Bransgrove OAM – Commissioner, National Transport Commission
Nola Bransgrove’s CV includes several instances of dedicated civic, community and industry participation. Her leadership achievements and accolades demonstrate how she has helped innovate the transport and logistics industry through reform, maximising productivity, promoting sustainability and advocating for women’s leadership.
Gransgrove has been Chair of Women in Supply Chain, a voluntary organisation that aims to “represent the voices of women in supply chain, transport and logistics”, and since 2014, a Commissioner (Chair Audit and Risk Committee) of the National Transport Commission, an important independent advisory body concentrating on Australia’s rail and road transport priorities. She became Deputy Chair at the beginning of 2018.
Bransgrove is a Commissioner at National Transport Commission, Melbourne; Chair of Transport and Distribution Training, Victoria; and co-owner of BransTrans, a trucking company based in Traralgon, Victoria. She was awarded a prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia for services to road transport in 2012.
Refer to Bransgrove’s LinkedIn profile.
Susan Brennan – President and Chief Executive Officer, Romeo Power
Susan Brennan has a rich career history as a leader in manufacturing, transportation and energy, making her an inspirational role model for women in supply chain and logistics management.
Brennan enjoyed a long and distinguished career at the Ford Motor Company, beginning in 1995, before becoming Nissan North America’s Vice President of manufacturing. She was deeply involved in developing the company’s first electric vehicle, the Leaf.
Next, Brennan became Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of Bloom Energy, a Silicon Valley startup that uses solid oxide fuel cells to provide ultra-reliable low-emissions energy to businesses. She was responsible for global supply chain and purchasing (among many other things).
She is President and Chief Executive Officer at Romeo Power in Los Angeles, at the time of writing.
Brennan remains a passionate champion for women in mathematics, science, transport and the wider business world.
Refer to Brennan’s LinkedIn profile.
Priyani Withanaarachchi – Principal and Faculty, AcademyGlobal
While working at Honda Australia in strategist and assistant management roles, Priyani Withanaarachchi undertook a Master of Business (Logistics Management) Supply Chain and Logistics from RMIT University. In 2011, she was promoted to Head of Supply Chain for the company.
Withanaarachchi’s leadership has also been instrumental in optimising parts and accessories distribution strategies and operations within the automotive industry. In 2014, she moved to Nissan Motor Corporation Australia, where she served as the General Manager – Parts Supply Chain and Distribution. She was responsible for the Nissan brand and its luxury brand, Infiniti, in Australia and New Zealand.
In addition, Withanaarachchi was the Project Leader of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance warehouse project. Its aim was to establish a best-in-class National Parts Distribution Centre for parts and accessories, a global first for the alliance.
After nearly six years of serving in numerous leadership roles at Nissan, Withanaarachchi moved to AcademyGlobal in New South Wales in January 2021, where she develops, designs and facilitates training in supply chain and logistics, leadership, transport and financial management.
Refer to Withanaarachchi’s LinkedIn profile.
Tatenda Mudariki – Program Manager, Google
Tatenda Mudariki has progressed quickly in her career since graduating from RMIT with a Bachelor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management in 2008.
She joined telecommunications company Ericsson as a work-placement student during her studies and continued at the organisation once she completed university, initially in a project support role, then as Supply Process and Development Specialist and eventually Project Manager.
In 2016, Mudariki moved to the United Kingdom to take up a position as Supply Chain Manager at Williams Sale Partnership Limited (WSP), one of the largest engineering consulting firms in the world, making her a truly inspiring woman in supply chain management. After her time at WSP, Mudariki moved on to Accenture, where she served as a management consultant and then Manager of Supply Chain & Operations.
As of April 2022, Mudariki is Program Manager, EMEA Demand Planning, Devices and Services, at Google in London.
Refer to Mudariki’s LinkedIn profile.
Prepare to join the ranks of inspirational women in supply chain management
Do you see yourself leading the innovation of the rapidly evolving supply chain field like these inspiring women? RMIT Online’s Master of Supply Chain and Logistics Management offers courses that can help you develop a holistic skill set applicable across industries, including Supply Chain Principles, International Logistics and Strategic Procurement Management. Start paving the way towards success in supply chain management in a variety of industries with RMIT.