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As the world recognises International Women’s Day today, we wanted to showcase some of our amazing women who are inspiring and changing the sector for the better.

The theme this year is #InspireInclusion and while according to Women in Transport, only 25% of workers in the transport sector are women, we wanted to highlight why it can be the sector of choice from the experiences of two of our team members.

Before we hear about Kate Marsh, Kelly Hinchcliffe, Eryl John and Gilly Boshoff, let’s hear from co-founder, Jenny Howells, about the Monex Group, and the role of women in its success to date.

Jenny Howells | Co-founder, Monex Group

“I am incredibly proud of the company that James (Howells) has turned Monex into, and the part played by myself and my late sister-in-law in its history. We try to encourage all the women in the company to continue with training to increase their knowledge and achieve higher positions within the company.

“I think that one of the biggest challenges for women is one that has always been there, and that is work-life balance, particularly if you have small children; I spent years feeling guilty about leaving my children to go to work, and I don’t think that situation has changed. I would tell any woman to go for anything, if they want a career in the transport industry there are lots more options now than say 20 years ago. I have been in the industry over 60 years, and there were very few of us then, and when people asked what you did, you got stunned silence when you said you were a Haulier.

I went to many industry meetings as the only woman, luckily it was not something that bothered me.
Jenny Howells | Co-founder

“We like to look after our female colleagues and offer them the chance to grow in their working and personal lives, and work with them to achieve their goals. I have loved my 60 years in the commercial vehicle industry; even my mother who never worked after she got married, could not understand why I wanted to work in a garage, things have changed so much, for the better.”

Thanks to Jenny’s inspiration, we now have a team of amazing women at the forefront of activities at Monex Group, and we wanted to highlight four very different roles through Kate, Kelly, Eryl and Gilly.

First up we have Kate Marsh who has been with Monex for 20 years and is our Operations Director and she manages 130 vehicles and 200 employees, with a £20m turnover.

What does that involve? As the Operations Director, DGSA, National & International CPC Holder, and Appointed Person my role is all encompassing. Running transport on a day-to-day level, with all areas of large projects not only involves transport but overall project management too, and I’m responsible for 130 vehicles and 200 employees so I have to be across our customer service, sales, driver recruitment, compliance for the operators’ licenses, and staff recruitment.

What’s the best part of your role? The best part of my role is customer satisfaction, when they come back to you and say they deemed their request as “impossible”, but we made it possible.

Did you always want a career in transport? My dream was to be a pilot in the RAF (born and grew up in Farnborough where they hold the UK biggest air show every two years, I was hooked from the age of 4/5). I joined the RAF cadets whilst I was in school and at the age of 17 went to Cardiff for the medicals to start the training process, but during this they picked up on my eyesight (still wear glasses to this day) and due to the fact my vision would not have been able to be a pilot I looked at alternative career choices.

How did you transition from a career in the RAF to transport? I enjoy a challenge and transport is different to any other role I’d had; it’s a 24hr industry and you never know what the next call will bring.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry over the years? It’s changed dramatically in the last 20 years, more and more women are entering the logistics industry which has had a huge benefit to all areas of transport, from drivers to management.

What advice do you have for anyone considering it as a career choice? It’s very rewarding having job satisfaction and helping a wider team to get to the end goal. Being a director of a company with £20million turnover having had no transport experience before and starting as an admin clerk just shows that it is an industry you can grow into with great prospects and where hard work really pays off. Common sense goes a long way and it’s a career and industry to feel very proud of.

What are you most proud of? Achieving what I have through hard work, proving myself in an industry that was very much male orientated when I started, and I felt I had more to prove not only to the company but for the industry. The greatest enjoyment has to be receiving good customer feedback and organising from start to finish all logistical solutions for customers (not only transport but the whole package from AP site visits, swept paths, traffic management, road closures etc etc). I have also formed great relationships with customers and other haulers within the industry some whom I have known for years and consider friends.

Who is your female role model? Cliché I know but my Mum is my hero, she is the strongest, unassuming, and most humble person I know. Always thinks of others before herself, gives honest and sound advice, and protects those she loves to a fault.

Kate Marsh | Operations Director, Monex Logistics

Here we have Kelly Hinchcliffe, Director of Monex Distribution who has been with us since 2018 and she leads a department turning over £4million for the pallet network and £8m for Hiabs combined. She manages over 70 people on a daily basis across CPCs, DGSAs, directors, transport managers and more.

What does your role involve? My role as Director of Monex Distribution involves the day to day running and managing of our pallet network department. We run 2x networks and are currently running 4-5 trunks a day sending freight into our main hubs in Lichfield and Swadlincote. We deliver and collect palletised goods across the whole of the NP postcode area, and I oversee office staff and warehouse staff as well as drivers. I make sure that everyone is running the operation correctly, and safely, all vehicles are kept clean, and any issues reported directly to me, as well as the business-as-usual activities like P&Ls, invoicing, customer rates and queries etc.

Was it a career choice you had in mind growing up? I was initially interested working in law, but unfortunately didn't get the grades I needed for that. I then worked in many different organisations that were always involved in transport of some kind and I enjoyed the challenge; I was a fleet manager for a traffic management company, and I worked in despatch for another company that involved me booking transport and sending our manufactured goods all around the world via road air and sea transportation. I started my journey here by joining as a customer service advisor.

How positive a sector is it for women? The transport sector is great for women, it was always so uncommon to find a woman working in transport and logistics and was always a very male dominant sector. This is changing; women who want challenges and careers in this sector can absolutely do it! It's always great to see other women succeed in running transport and logistics departments/businesses. To anyone getting into the sector, I would say do it; give it a try, it's fast paced, throws up some challenging times every now and then, but on the whole it's all good fun!

Can you share a highlight so far with us? During my time at Monex, I would say that my biggest highlight was being approached to become Director of Monex Distribution; when I joined the team as a customer service advisor in 2018, I did not see myself here as a Director in 2023! There have been so many changes for me on my journey and I am excited to continue this journey with Monex and see what the coming months and years bring for the business.

Who is your female role model? Easy! It’s Kate Marsh, I think that Kate is absolutely brilliant; she works hard and is always on hand to lend an ear if needed. I admire the knowledge and experience that Kate holds in this sector.

Kelly Hinchcliffe | Director, Monex Distribution
Eryl John | Motorway Barrier Division

Next, we have Eryl who gained her HGV Class 1 License in 2006 and has driven for Monex since 2008. Being told she wouldn’t be able to be a truck driver growing up as it wasn’t a job for a woman thankfully didn’t deter her, and we’re proud to have her on our team.

Which part of the business do you work in and what does that entail? I work for our motorway barrier division, and this involves the delivery and collection of safety barrier throughout the UK for motorway maintenance work. We work closely with the Hiab division and on top of driving, I chain down loads, while ensuing full compliance with working time directive. One of the most interesting jobs I was involved with was delivering all the safety barrier on the bridges in London post the London bridge attacks, and I also enjoy doing the work for Notting Hill carnival as our efforts help to ensure everyone’s safety.

Who inspired you to get into driving? It was something I always wanted to do as my dad was a truck driver and had his own small haulage firm, however I was told growing up that I wouldn’t be able to do that as it wasn’t a job for a woman. Later in life when my son wanted to go to Uni, I took my HGV class 1 so I could support him through university – I love being on the road and have stuck with it ever since. I love the independence and responsibility of the job and not being stuck behind a desk or in a factory.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of getting into driving? Just do it – don’t be afraid to try. This was something I only ever planned on doing for five years to help my son through university, but it is now in my blood, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

If you had to be stuck in your truck with one other woman for a week’s work, who would you pick? Tracy Chapman – a woman with an amazing voice who has an inspiring story.

Gilly’s main role involves managing Monex Academy and ensuring the next generation of candidates are trained to the highest of standards and she started out training the cohort for the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust’s (WAST) LGV C1 courses.

Gilly Boshoff | Manager, Monex Academy

How did you get into driving and being a trainer? When I turned 17 and passed my driving test, I also started driving our 7.5T horse box; it never occurred to me that I couldn’t. I’ve been lucky to be involved in training across various industries and really enjoy delivering different courses and seeing the lightbulb moments when people understand what you’re trying to teach them.

What makes the Monex Academy such a great platform for women? There are so many doors opened for you if you can drive any of the LGV licensed trucks, from being a paramedic, delivery driver, enjoying UK work or travelling across Europe, the list keeps going. We certainly don’t see any obstacles for women in this industry at Monex.

More women are getting into the sector (transport and logistics), what makes it a good sector to work in as a female? I think woman are more than capable of working in any sector nowadays; transport is a great industry as it is everchanging and no two days are the same. If you don’t love a challenge, then it’s possibly not the right industry for you.

What challenges still exist? I think the biggest challenge for women becoming truck drivers are the working hours and time away from home if they have young families. Furthermore, for all of our drivers, it’s being out on the road - you either love it or you don’t.

What advice would you give to any female contemplating training to be a driver with you? If you’ve never spent time in a truck or on the road as a driver, talk to people who are already in the industry – this advice applies to any new role you may be looking at so do your homework first.

How could we inspire more women to work in the sector? There are now a lot more women working in the transport / haulage sector. At Monex on the administration side we are 53% women and our Academy, Hiabs and Palletways divisions are headed by females. As for the driving side, I think it needs to be offered as an option for more women as I don’t think they are traditionally targeted. It can be a great role for someone whose children have grown up and they want to get back to work.

Who is your role model? There are so many inspiring women in the world today, but Annie Lennox is one of my all-time favourites and someone I’d love to have a road trip with to find out more about her life and humanitarian work. Can you imagine driving along with her belting out a tune next to you, road trip heaven!

It’s a lovely feeling when you get people successfully through their driving tests and on the road to their new careers, 60% of the candidates through WAST were women.
Gilly Boshoff | Manager

We’re extremely proud and will continue to #InspireInclusion throughout our work and use the experiences of people like Jenny, Kate, Kelly, Eryl, and Gilly every day to inspire the next generation of women in the sector.

If you’ve been inspired and would like to know more about driving, get in touch with our Monex Academy today.

The Monex Group includes Monex Logistics, Severn Ready Space, Pike Logistics, Monex Marine, Whitedot, Monex Distribution, Monex International, Monex Cranes, and Monex Academy.

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