County Antrim businesswoman, Pamela Dennison, has taken on the role of National Regional Officer for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) in Northern Ireland. Although the remit for this new role is broad, Pamela will primarily be responsible for raising the profile oflogistics and transport within Northern Ireland and for CILT membership in the region.
As well as having a wealth of experience within the sector, Pamela also brings a youthful and female perspective to the position – two demographics that the industry is eager to appeal to.
Pamela has forged a successful career in a predominantly male industry. Working from a young age in her father’s business, specialist furniture logistics company, W.S. Dennison Ltd, Pamela has gone on to hold various high-profile roles in the transport and logistics industry, most recently Transport & Contracts Manager for a large public sector organisation.
Not content with being mother to two young girls, having a day job, taking on the CILT role and having many other commitments (such as being Secretary of an environmental group and a rural community hall), at the age of just 32, Pamela is also Vice-Chair of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) Regional Committee for Northern Ireland. She is also still actively involved in assisting her father in promoting and selling the family business.
The road transport industry employs 2.54 million people, around 8% of the UK workforce; and the industry contributes £124 billion to the economy. However, it is no secret that the industry is facing huge skills gaps, not least regarding HGV drivers, with around 64% of the HGV driver population being 45 years or older. Additionally, the sector remains heavily male-dominated, with just 1% of HGV drivers in the UK being female – Pamela Dennison being one of them! As well as having an HGV class C+E license, Pamela also holds the International Certificate of Professional Competence in road transport (CPC).
Qualifications aside, Pamela strongly believes that her my most valuable professional development has been her career, working within different sectors of the transport industry. Pamela said, “Each job has allowed me to learn new skills and practical experiences, all of which I will carry with me”.
Having grown up working in her father’s business, in 2012 Pamela went to work for European haulier, McCulla Ireland Ltd, as the Company’s Compliance Manager, before moving to the same role at Beatties Distribution, within its specialist European Pharmaceutical sector.
Earlier this year, Pamela won the ‘Driving Style’ category at a National ‘Driver of the Year’ competition, ran by the FTA, proof that, not only can women drive trucks, they can also do it well! Pamela was the only female shortlisted in a group of twenty in the overall 18 tonne vehicle category.
With all of the above taken into account in a written application, followed by an intense hour-long interview, Pamela was honoured with the ‘Women in Transport’ award at the 11th annual Fleet Transport Awards Gala Banquet held at the Citywest Hotel, Dublin on 28 September. Pamela seen off five other shortlisted nominees to take home the award on the night.
This also follows the family business achieving the ‘Haulier of the Year’ award at the Northern Ireland Export & Freight Transport & Logistics Awards at a ceremony at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on 14 September. The judges felt that, although W.S. Dennison is not the typical haulier, the Company’s ability to carry out such specialist work in a niche sector of the transport and logistics market, and to such high customer service standards, made them worthy winners.
Pamela feels strongly about the under-representation of women in the transport industry. When asked what skills women need to work in the sector, Pamela responded with: “the same skills as men!” but continued to say: “Anyone who wants to work within transport needs to be willing to work at a fast pace, be able to think on their feet, be good at problem solving, commercially aware, intuitive to their surroundings, have a positive attitude, be a team player and a good communicator… the list is endless, but the difficult task is promoting the industry and demonstrating how satisfying the job can be”.
As part of her role with CILT, Pamela’s aim will be to campaign to raise the profile of the industry, both generally and specifically to young people and women. As well as attending business networking events and visiting schools and colleges to promote the role that transport plays in everyday life, the importance it has for the economy and the variety of jobs available in the sector, Pamela will also encourage and support those women already working in the sector.
Pamela concluded by saying: “I am proud of my unique career path but it is unfortunate that it is not a more common scenario. There are numerous different roles needed to make road transport work and there is a large pool of talented women available to tap into. Most women may not have thought of the transport industry being for them but I would encourage anyone to explore the wide range of exciting and rewarding options that the sector can offer”.