Navigating Logistics with Operations Manager, Gemma Chamberlain

Gemma tells us about what it’s like to work at our leading-edge distribution centre, why her support for our colleagues is being recognised by the industry and why a role in our Supply Chain & Logistics team is far more that moving boxes from A to B.

Can you describe your role within Supply Chain & Logistics at M&S?

My journey at M&S has been quite a ride. I started from the ground up, working as a Technician in the Control room at our distribution centre, Castle Donington, before working my way up to become a Shift Manager. From there, I transitioned into Operations management, overseeing both manual operations and third-party site improvements.

The roles and opportunities I’ve been offered at M&S have given me a real understanding of the site, its complexities and how we best support our colleagues on the frontline to succeed.

Now, I'm deeply involved in the Boxed Transformation project which will see significant investment being made into new technology and automation at Caste Donington. It’s a really exciting opportunity, helping to future-proof the site and have our customer and colleagues at the heart of those decisions.

What inspired you to pursue a career in Supply Chain & Logistics?

To be honest, joining M&S wasn't a deliberate decision to pursue a career in Supply Chain & Logistics. I stumbled upon a Lead Technician position which seemed to align to my previous experiences working in a call centre and in delivery management for the Royal Mail.

During my 8 years at M&S, I've come to realise the incredible breadth of opportunities within this field and I’m passionate about sharing that with those thinking about a career in logistics. The opportunities to grow professionally and learn are continuous.

Why do you think you were nominated for the Industry Champion Award at the Women in Transport awards?

Initially, I believed it was because of my strong work ethic, but feedback revealed that it's because of my commitment to helping others grow wherever I work. [CG1] 

Throughout my years at Marks and Spencer's I have been able to make an impact in each working area, whether that be systemic, efficiency related, or people related.

I have dedicated time to coach colleagues that have approached me for advice and they have grown in many ways, both personally and professionally.

I also helped to build our ‘Stepping into Team Manager’ programme, helping to develop our colleagues on site at Castle Donington. The programme helped colleagues take their first step into Team Management covering all the unique complexities of the site along with people management principles.

I have had the honour of supporting new to role Shift Managers in their development and journey too.

I’m really passionate about supporting and coaching my peers to be the best that they can be to deliver for our customers. I believe in empowering others to excel alongside me.  To do that I have to be open and willing to share my knowledge.

How do you feel to be recognised?

I feel a mix of pride and humility. While I'm honoured by the recognition, I'm equally humbled by the collective effort of my colleagues. I believe in inclusivity and teamwork, and this acknowledgment reflects our joint commitment to excellence at M&S.

What advice would you give to other women interested in pursuing a career in Supply Chain & Logistics?

Why would you NOT want to pursue a career in Supply Chain & Logistics? If you think it’s just moving product from A to B, then you are very wrong.

I'd encourage those interested in a career in logistics to embrace the vast opportunities within the field. Stay curious, embrace new challenges, and remain authentic. Champion your team's successes and foster a collaborative, inclusive and welcoming environment. The only limits are the ones you impose on yourself.

Can you share any challenges you've faced as a female professional in this field and how you've overcome them?

I’m privileged to say that I don’t feel that I have faced any challenges in this industry because of my gender – especially during my time at M&S. Despite being a gay woman in a male-dominated environment, I've focused on my work ethic, treating everyone with respect and being open and honest. I am just Gemma who wants to do a great job and I’ve always been accepted for that. While I acknowledge that some individuals may face such challenges, my advice is to confront them and use any adversity as motivation to do even better.

What makes M&S a special place to work?

It doesn’t matter who you are or what role you do, you are part of the M&S Family.

M&S embodies a sense of belonging and inclusivity, no matter what team you’re in. The company's clear purpose and strategy unite us in striving for excellence. Whether at M&S or on external sites, I've always felt valued, engaged, and listened too which I really appreciate. And we’re all striving for the same goal, to be remarkable for our remarkable customers so we all win together.

Learn more about a career in Supply Chain & Logistics with us here

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