Naz Brooker, Aramex UK’s senior product manager, has celebrated a significant milestone this month – 36 years at the Dubai-headquartered transportation and logistics company that expanded into the UK in 1986.
As one of the two original members of the transportation and logistics (T&L) provider, Brooker has worked across several functions. From operations to credit control to customer services, she’s as close to seeing and doing it all as you can get.
A lot can change in a year, never mind 36. Parcel and Postal Technology International sat down with Brooker to find out what continues to excite one of Aramex UK’s most experienced employees about transportation and logistics, and what’s kept her with Aramex UK for more than three decades.
What is it like to be a woman in the transportation and logistics industry?
When I started in the industry, there were hardly any women, as the transport and logistics industry was always perceived to be orientated around males. But slowly, this perception started changing and we began to see more and more women joining the industry.
People have become more open-minded and started to realize that a woman can do what’s traditionally perceived as a ‘man’s job’. We can do it equally well, if not better. This has allowed for fresh ideas and ensured that views and opinions can be well received by everyone, making for a more inclusive workplace.
Aramex UK is a working environment that encourages women to be the best version of themselves, pushing them to go for leadership roles as soon as the opportunity arises, while providing all the support required. Several women in our organization are currently in leadership positions (including me), which is great to see.
How has being a woman in T&L changed over the last three decades?
When I joined Aramex UK, we only had two members of staff, so I was quite fortunate to get an equal opportunity from the get-go. I was given a first-hand opportunity to be part of something big in building our capabilities in the UK and getting them to the same level of our Middle Eastern counterparts.
However, the industry itself wasn’t as welcoming, as it struggled to accept women being in the same class as men. This impeded me on client visits as it felt like a struggle to be taken seriously – it seemed as though men weren’t big fans of conducting business deals with a woman. Perceptions started changing quite drastically when they realized that I had the required knowledge to consult them on certain matters and advise changes that would benefit their business overall.
And as more and more women started entering the industry, the notion that women “aren’t made” for this industry was soon debunked. Even though my earlier years in the transport and logistics industry were a struggle, I wouldn’t change a thing, as they played a major part in making me the woman I am today. These experiences have made me stronger and more resilient, doing wonders for my confidence.
You’ve worked across several of Aramex UK’s departments – how do you feel this has benefitted your professional progression?
I feel like working across different departments certainly accelerated my learning process, as I was able to get a proper understanding of how each function operates and how it fits into the overall business – including all of the intricate details in between.
I’d recommend getting experience across the board to individuals starting out in our industry. In fact, we’ve made it mandatory for all our new starters to sit down with each function in their first two weeks to ensure they get an understanding of how each department works.
What’s made you stay at Aramex UK for 36 years?
Having been in this industry for over 35 years, I can say with the utmost confidence that the people make the company what it is. There is a real family feel at Aramex UK, with approachability and flexibility being at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Being a non-hierarchical company, we ensure there is no differentiation between individuals, irrespective of their job title and role. As a result, this encourages new employees to speak to senior members of staff without any sort of hesitation and engage in conversations.
I think this is crucial, as we ensure all members of staff feel empowered, and we always encourage them to put their best foot forward and strive for success. This is extremely rare – our industry tends to feel quite rigid and maintain a hierarchical structure within most organizations.
How do you feel about the influx of technology solutions that the T&L sector has embraced during you career?
Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think anything can beat a good old conversation face-to-face. Technology has played a major part in the development of our industry, whether that’s the automation process or the ability to track parcels, and it certainly has made life easier. However, I’m not a huge fan of chatbots, automated replies, and the constant scheduling of meetings over Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
Having a direct conversation eradicates any chance of miscommunication taking place, in addition to understanding the actual issue at hand and how we can solve this in the best manner possible. Our USP revolves around providing tailor-made solutions, while taking a consultative approach, something that can’t be done as easily on Teams and Zoom – and certainly not via chatbots!
As an organization, we strive to put our customers’ needs at the forefront and ensure we can provide a personal touch – something that can’t be done if we are using chatbots to give generic answers.
What is it about T&L that still excites you and what are your thoughts on the future of the sector?
I think our industry is thriving more than ever. Every day presents you with a new challenge, whether that’s dealing with existing or prospective customers, or handling situational matters like the Covid-19 pandemic. This is where the real excitement lies as no two days are the same – I have no idea what I’m going to face tomorrow.
As far as opportunities are concerned, the possibilities are endless. You really can build a portfolio of diverse skills which will hold you in good stead for your next career step, whether that’s looking to move departments as I did in my early days or going for a promotion. If you are willing to put in the work and effort, the sky really is the limit.
This article was originally published in the June 2023 issue of Postal and Parcel Technology International. Click here to access the magazine in full for free.