Caron Friston, Liner General Manager. Felixstowe Office
How long have you been with Cory and when did you start?
I joined in 2008 and have risen to the head position after previously holding the positions of Sales Executive, Commercial & Operations Manager and Line Manager.
What are you responsible for now?
As General Manager for the Liner division, I oversee all areas of the liner division; being a main point of contact for my management team and staff alike. I am lucky enough to have a great team to work with and my role is to help motivate and lead them in a positive and encouraging way. I believe all the team know I am committed to this role and appreciate their efforts to take care of our business. I am responsible for our budget and maintaining performance, acting where needed to improve procedure and keep our margins as healthy as possible. We work to a business plan and we evaluate this regularly for client performance. I visit clients, look for opportunities for new business and sell our great service at every opportunity. We regularly review our supplier base and operational performance so that we maintain our service delivery and control costs accordingly. I am answerable to our clients, principals and Cory Senior management in all aspects of the Liner business, so it is important I am ‘hands on’ and understand the challenges we regularly face.
How do you keep staff motivated and what makes a good manager?
I believe you lead by example. The team see me involved in all areas of the Liner business and we speak regularly. I sit with the team and keep abreast of what’s happening, so that I can answer their questions and support them however needed. I remind them how much I appreciate their efforts and provide feedback at every opportunity, especially when I hear this from our clients, which happens on a very regular basis. A good manager needs to be strong and understanding, show empathy when needed and give encouragement. After all, the team are often the front line for the most important part of your business… the customer. Being positive and trying to demonstrate you support your team, helps their service delivery and care of the customers. I also have to make difficult decisions at times and I’m not afraid to do that either.
What was the shipping culture like 10 years ago, for women?
To be honest, I was lucky enough to have a very supportive Managing Director when I joined Cory Brothers. He seemed to recognise potential in me and gave me every opportunity to grow and progress. In terms of how things have changed for woman in our industry, well I believe there are still too few of us in senior roles. This is evident when attending industry functions and the lead roles are still heavily dominated by men. Cory Brothers policies for supporting working mothers are very good and we have had many returning to part time roles over the years when returning from maternity leave, rather than lose the experience completely when they can no longer commit to a full-time position. As part of the Braemar Group of companies, I believe there are good opportunities for woman in the group, we just need to encourage more to take an interest in our industry in general to realise the potential for their growth and progression.
How do you balance being a mother and a leading professional?
Well, initially I reduced my working hours when I returned to work as a Mother, eventually increasing my hours over time so that I could perform certain duties on a ‘flexi time’ basis. This enabled me to move from being more operational to a sales position and still travel to visit clients and go overseas periodically. In those early years, I felt that apart from my ability to progress and be promoted, working part time & ‘flexi’ hours was a good balance for me. I could maintain my industry knowledge and keep myself in the working world whilst I had lots of time to bring up my sons and play the important of role of ‘Mum’ by always being there for them. I decided to wait until my youngest son was 15 years old before I felt I could make the commitment back into Management – this was purely my decision and it was the right one for me. I am happy looking back that I did it this way and feel now that I was a positive role model in both areas of my life.
What are some strategies you’ve learned that can help women achieve a more prominent role in business?
That’s not easy to answer as everyone is different. However, perhaps that’s the key, always be true to yourself. Be confident and don’t doubt your abilities. In a male dominated industry, you can feel like an outsider at times, but I now know that can also be an advantage if you don’t let your doubts cloud your judgement. You bring a unique viewpoint from a female perspective and that can be refreshing and also, being perhaps a bit more sensitive, we have thought processes that are different to the guys. That in itself has benefits to business when accompanied with knowledge, experience and passion!
What advice would you give to a younger you?
I think the advice would be the same to young women in general, don’t be so critical of yourself in terms of your abilities and believe you can! Women tend to be very self-deprecating, especially in their early years, which in turn affects confidence. Be confident in your abilities and believe you are as good as anyone else in achieving your goals. If you keep questioning your every move, you don’t move forward quickly enough or take those opportunities when they come. Be ready to just go for it and know that failure is just a step nearer to success.
How do you make a difference to your role?
I really believe in the company and the service we provide because my team and I care about our clients. As a result, we have built a great reputation with our clients which in turn raises the profile of Cory Brothers in our industry in a positive way. We have a long and interesting history and I’m proud to represent Cory Brothers which I believe I show. Having people who are loyal, passionate and committed to their roles is so important. I bring these attributes to my role and I also share them with my team. I really hope this makes a positive difference. Ladies are leading the way. Cory Brothers have female leaders within all divisions. Longstanding staff with vast experience and expertise alongside new and emerging talent.