Project cargo knows no gender, says Elisabeth Cosmatos
Gender should never be a determining factor in business. Breakbulk and project cargo industries may be male-dominated, but that does not close the door for women to be successful, nor is there a need to single out their achievements as something out of the ordinary.
“Sometimes it bothers me when people refer to women as if we are separate from everyone else. It’s as if we need to be treated differently or that our achievements are greater just because we are women. In my experience, gender doesn’t matter when it comes to working with others,” Elisabeth Cosmatos, CEO of the Cosmatos Group, and the President of the Heavy Lift Group, tells Project Cargo Journal.
“I strongly believe that whether male or female, the industry is open to all those who want to be involved. When it comes to a career in this industry, there are no boundaries,“ Cosmatos said.
Cosmatos is an example of competence herself as she recently became the first female president of The Heavy Lift Group, an international group of specialised heavy transport companies. Furthermore, the executive committee is majority female with Natalya Kulagina (Vesta Logistics Company), and Marianne Blechingberg (Hackling Logistics) joining Cosmatos. Colin D’ Abreo (Rhenus Project Logistics) and Alessio Bianchi (DCS Liburnus Project) complete the executive committee of the group.
“I am very happy to have been appointed as President of THLG. The majority-female executive committee demonstrates the Group’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment in the heavy-lift industry,” says Cosmatos.
But Cosmatos further stressed that the executive committee has always worked well together, and essentially, in general, everything boils down to how many hours one is willing to put in, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to reach a certain goal. It is a matter of working together within a company to reach a common goal and backing each other when the work-life scale is thrown to one side or the other.
“I am all for an environment where, if I have to attend a recital or an important event in my child’s life, I am able to do it because someone in the office will cover for me. And trust me, there are more and more fathers, who also need cover for a similar situation, and often find themselves discriminated against because they prioritised family over work in certain situations,” Cosmatos said.
What’s important is that we all, women and men alike, are treated with respect as human beings. I wish life wasn’t so competitive and people could just take a step back and relax. We will all get there eventually, whether it takes a day or longer. Unfortunately, there is a lot of competitiveness in our industry and in other areas too. But ultimately, what matters most is treating each other with kindness and respect.
With that being said, a question remains whether misinformation about the industry could be the reason why even more women are not joining. At times, to an inexperienced eye, project cargo may seem to include a lot of heavy lifting and strenuous work. Could that be the stumbling block?
“If that is the reason, then it is down to bad information. You will not be the one lifting the heavy machinery on your own. The majority of your days will be spent behind a laptop, contacting people. To be fair, when someone asks me what I do for a living, I say that I am solving problems,” said Cosmatos, smiling.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman, as long as you have a clear understanding of what’s going on and are proactive in addressing the needs of others. In our industry, it’s crucial to anticipate problems before they arise, otherwise, it could end up costing a lot of money. The job requires a lot of expertise and flexibility to find solutions that are effective. You have to be well-informed and confident in your abilities to succeed,” she added.
Cosmatos urged women not to be deterred by what the industry may look like from the outside, because it is a business like any other, and even having to be on a project site does not mean it can’t be done.
It is an exciting business which oftentimes requires a visit to the job site, designing a complicated transport solution, one that takes you to different places, and one where no day is the same.