Interview with Sonya Medlin, Director of Operations at Performance Team
Sonya Medlin has been working in the logistics industry for over thirty years. Sonya and her team were recently awarded the 2019 American Honda Premier Partner Award which was a momentous achievement in her career. Sonya shares her thoughts on women in supply chain, such as what it takes to excel in the industry and why she loves working for PT.
Q – Tell us about your time in college at Louisiana State University.
Sonya: To be perfectly honest, I was an art major and had a scholarship in art to attend Louisiana State University. Logistics was not on my radar at all. While I was at school, I applied for a CSR position at a distribution company and ended up enjoying the job and the people. The General Manager began to mentor me, asking me what my long term goals were, and I ended up staying with the company. Within two years, I was promoted, and became the first female Operations Manager for Unit Distribution, which was a privately owned company very similar to PT.
Q – What opportunities do you currently see for women to excel in the supply chain industry?
Sonya: The opportunities for women who want to excel would only be limited by that individual. I feel logistics is still a male dominated industry, but I see more and more women entering the industry in supply chain management roles. Participating in available mentor programs was crucial to my success. Aligning with mentors, who had different areas of concentration benefited me. I was so fortunate to have mentors within the companies I worked for, as well as from customer relationships I made through the years.
Q – What characteristics do you feel women need to have to be successful in the logistics industry?
Sonya: Integrity, determination, persistence, and patience are all necessary to be successful in this industry regardless of gender. Integrity builds trust at all levels. Getting out on the floor, and learning from the ground up, helped me understand the business, the customer products, and challenges faced by employees. I always tell new associates to have patience, it takes a full year to experience and learn the full scope of a job. I enjoy mentoring all individuals that want to grow and learn, and it is exciting to see more women entering the supply chain field.
Q – What has been the most impactful advancement in the industry that you have seen?
Sonya: Because I have been primarily with one account (Honda) for the majority of my career (over 35 years!), my view is limited to this account. For Honda, the biggest advancement was moving to SAP which happened over 20 years ago but is still crucial to their success.
Q – What has been the most enjoyable aspect of working in logistics for 35 years?
Sonya: The Honda account has been a major part of my life. Working with the team at Honda for so many years makes me feel like an extension of their team, and I have made lifelong friends as a result. The Honda Premier Partner award was such an honor for me and my team. We competed with over 1,000 vendors in their selection process. The work over the years has become more complex and more challenging. We are so dedicated to Honda, and the recognition was very rewarding.
Q – What are some of the positive attributes of working with PT?
Sonya: PT has been extremely supportive and has a family atmosphere. PT leadership values relationships with customers, as well as employees, and promotes safety and well being along with excellence in performance.
Q – What will you miss the most about your work PT when you retire?
Sonya: Retirement is still a few years away, but I will definitely miss the challenge of the work. That aspect is fun — Opening the new Kansas City warehouse, starting from scratch and building up the location; hiring the team, getting it in place, moving the products. I enjoy that…It is all very exciting! But mostly, I will miss the daily interaction with the people.
Q – What are the most important qualities that a person needs to exhibit to be successful in the logistics industry?
Sonya: Dedication and the determination to pull through when encountering adversity. Honesty & loyalty are also important qualities to have. For me, credibility with the customer is the most important quality. We would not have won the Honda award without the trustful relationships made with administrators and managers that we work with on a daily basis. Being upfront and transparent, making things right if, and when, things go wrong is so important.
Q – Any parting words or advice for our younger professionals reading this?
Sonya: For young professionals who are coming into the industry, communicate your goals, build relationships, and sign up for mentor programs.