From trucking and rail to ocean carrier transport and chassis negotiations, Lisa Wheldon, Director of Cargo & Intermodal Rail for the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT), has worked in all facets of the supply chain during her career. This month marks her 30-year milestone in the industry.
Her career is marked by some of the most recognizable names in logistics – SeaLand, CSX Intermodal, Florida East Coast Railway and Direct ChassisLink, Inc.; it’s a career track she says has become even more fulfilling than she ever could have imagined when she took her first job in August of 1990.
Lisa leads JAXPORT’s container team helping shippers optimize their supply chain with Northeast Florida’s network of service providers. Her team recently met with a global e-commerce brand to help the company plan its logistics needs for the upcoming peak season – “just another day in the office,” she says.
As COVID-19 brings new challenges for supply chain professionals every day – Lisa says disruptions in the supply chain are nothing new. She recalls the loss of rail connectivity due to flooding in the Midwest in the early 1990s, the Conrail merger in 1999 and the fall of Hanjin Shipping in 2017, saying there is one hallmark of success during these times – adaptability. “In this industry your ability to adapt is crucial,” said Lisa. “We are watching as BCOs adapt their sourcing strategy, make changes in traditional distribution center operations and fast-track e-commerce strategies to meet customer expectations.”
In addition to adaptability, Lisa points to a few other key lessons that guide her work every day:
Listen and learn from those around you. “I have been fortunate to have worked under a number of great leaders over the years – each had a unique set of skills that helped me become a better professional, you just have to be willing to keep learning.”
Establish relationships before you need them. “This industry is all about relationships. It’s incredibly important that you take the time to network today – they just might be the connection you need tomorrow.”
Invest in the future of the industry. “Take the time to mentor. I serve on both the CONNIE and NY Traffic Club boards, it is my small way to mentor young professionals and give back to this profession that I have come to love.”
The logistics veteran says her thirty-year career is not over and she looks forward to many more years in solving supply chain challenges. “Each day is exciting – you never know what new opportunity or challenge will unfold,” she said.
When asked what her ultimate goal is – Lisa says she hopes to leave a legacy like her late mentor, railroad executive Joe Pirozzi. She described him as the whole package – a crafted salesman who was dependable, honest and always straightforward. “Joe was always just a phone call away – even in retirement – and I hope to follow in his footsteps.”