|“I’m almost 5-foot-11 and I’m noticed when I walk into meetings,” says Menlo’s Carol Havis. Here she’s at the Raymond F. O’Brien award dinner with her former boss.
Carol Havis is the director of engineering for supply chain solutions at Menlo Worldwide Technologies, which is part of Menlo Worldwide.
Menlo Worldwide, she explains, is “a fairly new company, and a brand-new umbrella for a group of supply chain services companies with many years of experience.” The company includes Menlo Worldwide Logistics; Menlo Worldwide Forwarding, which was formerly the airfreight firm Emery Worldwide; and Vector SCM, a joint venture with General Motors that supports the GM supply chain.
Menlo Worldwide Technologies, where Havis works, handles IT, engineering and professional services. Its first allegiance is to Logistics, but it also supports Forwarding and Vector.
Menlo Worldwide Logistics is a supply chain management company. “We don’t own trucks, planes, trains or even warehouses,” says Havis. “But we lease those assets as needed to support the supply chain, which is any movement of materials or information. Menlo can manage the entire chain or any part of it for a client.
“Logistics is the execution company and Technologies is the solution and design arm,” Havis says. “We find the most cost-efficient and service-efficient way for our clients to operate. For example, we might determine the cost tradeoff between sourcing out of Mexico and sourcing out of Asia, depending on a client’s supply and demand needs.”
Havis has been at Menlo nearly seven years. Before that she spent twelve years with UPS, mainly in industrial engineering for the company’s logistics group.
She’s always been “one of those left-brained individuals that loves math and linear thinking. I took part in math competitions through my junior high and high school years. I wasn’t a cheerleader and I wasn’t real popular, but when the kids needed help with their homework they knew where to go,” she says a little ruefully.
Havis grew up in California and graduated from San Jose State University (San Jose, CA). Her 1987 degree was in math and she also took physics and engineering courses. Both her parents are teachers and she was expecting to go that road.
IE at UPS
Her career with UPS actually began as an after-school job loading and unloading packages to help pay the bills. But a supervisor noticed that Havis was pursuing a math degree and put her on the industrial engineering track at UPS. “I very much enjoyed it, and it was certainly a more lucrative career option than teaching.”
IE at UPS took Havis into a number of interesting fields. There were time studies, which, she says ironically, boiled down to “holding a stopwatch and following a driver around, running as fast as you can.”
In those days every operation had an IE department rep measuring productivity and assigning productivity goals. “Not a popular job,” she notes. “You were the auditor, you held the measuring stick and operations had to measure up.”
Fortunately, UPS management was seeking new goals, and Havis became involved in the exciting work of reengineering the IE group. The idea was to promote continuous process improvement, “a more optimal way to address the needs of the business.”
In pursuit of that goal, Havis got help from the Council of Logistics Management, an association of logistics professionals, and Georgia Tech. She joined APICS, the certification organization for resource management, and took some of its courses.
“I worked in facilities engineering and long-range planning, which eventually grew into what is now UPS Professional Services. I got involved with the corporate group in Atlanta. We began to work with marketing and sales to sell the engineering and intellectual capital of the IE as a value-added service to customers.”
As time went on, Havis began to realize that her field of opportunity at UPS was “just a small portion of the overall supply chain. I began to feel frustrated and limited, and wanted to try different areas – rail transportation and warehousing, for example.”
But getting into logistics services at UPS would mean a permanent move to the corporate offices in Atlanta. “I love living here in California,” Havis declares. “My sister, my mother and my father live in the Bay Area and it would be hard to leave.
“So before I pulled up my roots, I decided to look around to see what was available at home. I found Menlo Worldwide and made the switch.”
Making an impact at Menlo
When Havis left at the end of 1996, UPS was a $20 billion company. She liked the idea of working within a small-company environment where she could have big impact.
“I came aboard to support the business development folks by designing supply-chain solutions they could sell to the customers,” she explains. Her specific work now includes participating on and managing the project teams responsible for winning new accounts, leading consulting projects with existing customers and handling stand-alone projects.
Havis had some experience managing her small team at UPS, but moving into Menlo, “I still was kind of a one-woman show,” she says. “Then the leader of the data-analyst group was promoted, and I put in my bid to manage that group.”
“I love the managing part of it,” Havis says. She now has seventeen direct reports. So far the group is 43 percent female, 57 percent male and 29 percent non-Caucasian, including folks from China, Indonesia, India and the Philippines.
This diversity, she says, “helps us as we work with the global supply chain. Not everybody does things the way we do them in the U.S.”
Logistics, Havis explains, was born out of the transportation industry with its traditionally male truck drivers. “Moving to a gender-diverse environment has brought incredible value in supply-chain management,” she believes. “Statistically, women are very good at planning and organizing.”
Women in logistics
Havis belongs to many organizations. A favorite is Women in Logistics (WIL, www.womeninlogistics.org), a Bay Area group set up to help coach and counsel women in the field. “It helped me find my job here at Menlo,” Havis notes.
Someone from the company was speaking at a WIL dinner meeting. “I brought my resume, handed it to the recruiter and here I am.”
Awards and more
Havis is a Menlo-trained joint planning session facilitator, a Menlo black-belt quality improvement trainer and a member of Menlo’s project management deployment team. Last year she was one of five recipients of the 2002 Raymond F. O’Brien Award, which is the highest employee honor presented by CNF, the parent company of Menlo Worldwide.
The award recognizes people who are “not only good at their jobs but well-rounded in terms of community and mentoring and stepping outside the box.” You’re nominated by your peers, she notes. “Even to be a nominee is an honor.”
Although she doesn’t emphasize her sexual orientation, Havis is a lesbian. She wasn’t really out at UPS. “Times were different then,” she says. But she is out now, and has not found that her sexual preference has any impact whatsoever on her career at Menlo.
In fact, the company has gone out of its way to be supportive. When Havis won the O’Brien Award, it included an elegant presentation dinner with the company’s senior management. “I chose to bring my former boss because my partner doesn’t like big functions,” she recalls.
“My partner didn’t care, but the company did. They sent me a lovely note, saying, ‘We would certainly be comfortable with whoever you bring to the dinner.’
“The company wanted to make sure that I wasn’t worrying about its response,” says Havis. “I thought that was very nice.”
Kate Colborn & Pru Peterson