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Beyond the Numbers: Maria Limberg's Holistic Approach to Finance and Leadership

March 29, 2024
Maria Limberg, Regional Finance Director, JAS Nordics and Baltics
Maria Limberg, Regional Finance Director, JAS Nordics and Baltics

Maria Limberg considers herself “more than just an accountant.” “Finance is pretty basic, but it’s more than just the numbers,” she explains. What sets Maria apart is her holistic approach to finance. She recognizes the importance of deep industry knowledge, asserting that, for her, understanding the intricacies of logistics and supply chain is crucial to accurately interpreting financial data.

She hasn’t always been an expert at crunching numbers for logistics companies though.  

After studying finance for four years, she found herself navigating a tough job market and eventually started at a call center as a debt collector. The work was grueling, and she knew she wasn’t putting her talents to use. So, when the role of a Finance Assistant at a logistics company presented itself, she took a leap of faith and accepted. “It wasn’t the type of role or industry I initially saw myself in, but it seemed better than working for a collection agency,” she reminisces.

Despite her initial reservations, Maria embraced the role and quickly adopted a deep interest in understanding the 'how' and the 'what' that drive supply chains forward. What began as a leap of faith blossomed into a career where Maria found herself as a leader and “voice of reason” for many projects and initiatives.  

While one might assume that being a woman in finance in an already male-dominated industry would come with its obstacles, Maria acknowledges she is lucky that she hasn’t felt the pressure of any of those stigmas. “My approach has always been, do the work you know how to do, work hard, and appreciation will come. I’ve always felt that support,” she reflects.  

This constant support coupled with her tenacious and unrelenting spirit has enabled her to drive innovation and automation, often advocating for solutions where others initially did not see the benefit. She has played a crucial role in revolutionizing finance processes and enhancing efficiency within her team and beyond.

Alongside her dedication to invention and efficiency lies a passion for mentorship and leadership.  Maria's leadership principles revolve around collaboration and empowerment – as she knows firsthand how empowerment can help guide one’s path. In the past, Maria has worked as a mentor for new residents of Sweden, helping international professionals navigate the job search process in tandem with learning the norms of the Swedish culture. “It’s the cultural things that these very educated and experienced professionals need help with. They are very qualified, but even advising on how long to wait to call back for a job have been bits of advice that have made a big impact,” she shares. For her teams, she prioritizes this same environment of transparency where team members feel valued and encouraged to voice their opinions.

Maria's positive attitude and resilience are evident. She emphasizes the importance of cultural alignment and teamwork in overcoming obstacles and driving success. Beyond her professional endeavors, Maria finds fulfillment in her role as a mother to two sons, actively participating in their extracurricular activities. “If I’m not at the office, I’m at a game,” she mentions with a smile.

Her journey epitomizes resilience, passion, and the transformative power of taking a leap of faith. So now, when people ask Maria, “Why logistics,” her answer is, “Why not logistics?”

Breaking Stereotypes: Women Redefining Tech Careers at JAS

March 22, 2024
In recognition of Women's History Month and International Women's Day, we proudly highlight the remarkable journeys of three outstanding leaders from our Information Technology team: Linda Tallent, Irene Snyman, and Lizelle Britz.
In recognition of Women's History Month and International Women's Day, we proudly highlight the remarkable journeys of three outstanding leaders from our Information Technology team: Linda Tallent, Irene Snyman, and Lizelle Britz.

As we celebrate the launch of our Women@JAS program, Women's History Month, and recognize International Women's Day, we shine a spotlight on three of our Information Technology team leads, Linda Tallent, Irene Snyman, and Lizelle Britz, whose collective experiences personify resilience, determination, and leadership in a traditionally male-dominated field. These three accomplished JAS women are breaking barriers and shaping the future of technology within the logistics industry.  

At the Atlanta Worldwide headquarters, Linda Tallent champions the adage, "You can teach people anything, but you can't teach them to care." Linda knows firsthand the importance of a leader and a team that cares. "I ended up in IT; it was never a conscious decision. There have been times where I thought I was in over my head, but I stayed because of the people," she recounts how she grew her career at JAS. "I'm not a programmer. I'm not a coder. I'm not a developer. That's not how I see my role. My role is to build and empower the team and help everyone grow in their careers," she explains. At JAS, Linda has essentially done it all – she's served as an air import clerk, traffic manager, and customer broker; under her guidance, the global Helpdesk system was established – the list goes on. As JAS IT grew from the less-than-twenty-person team when she first started, so did Linda's capacity for management and leading teams to success. Her firm belief in the power of collaboration and inclusivity has propelled her to the forefront of initiatives, "you take the opportunities and take the chances. You're not always going to succeed, but even if you fail, you will still learn," she shares. For the last 26 years, Linda's journey has served as an inspiration for many women and will continue to prove invaluable to the next generation of Women@JAS.  

In South Africa, Irene Snyman's journey in technology began as an ERP consultant while completing her Master's degree in Computer Science. "I didn't grow up thinking that I wanted to be in IT; it was an opportunity that came my way," Irene recalls. When accepting her initial role at JAS, she dived in without fully understanding what the role entailed. "I had no idea what I was going to do, just that it revolved around integration and projects," she recounts. There have been many times where she had to learn to be confident with being the only woman or the youngest in a room. "I had to be comfortable and understand that I also had something of value to offer." Now, as a global leader in IT and in her dual role, she balances work-life integration. "I don't think of it as work-life balance because a scale is always going to lean one way more than the other. I think integration is a better term; it's more feasible in terms of long-term sustainability," Irene explains. She constantly strives to be present in every aspect of her life, from quality time with her family to working with her team. When liaising with the university students, she encourages them to follow their passion, regardless of preconceived stereotypes. "There was always a consensus that you need to be a developer, to be in IT and that is not the case. There are no rules, just follow your heart and work hard". Her leadership style revolves around servant leadership, nurturing each team member's growth with a unique approach. "My journey highlights the importance of breaking barriers with passion and dedication, proving that authenticity transcends stereotypes in the tech world."

Meanwhile, within the same Port Elizabeth office, Lizelle Britz's career trajectory is marked by assertive and decisive ambition. She knew she enjoyed working with computers, and after a quick stint pursuing work in the education sector, she returned to earn a technology degree. She didn't care that she was often the oldest in her classroom – she knew she was where she belonged. This was even more apparent when she started her first role in IT the day after her final exam at university. What began as a developer role molded into a management role where she now can focus on what's important to her – mentorship and leading teams. "When someone from my team leaves for a new opportunity, my goal is for them to be a better version of themselves than when they first started. Whether that be a better coder, a better developer – I want them to be proud of that version of themselves," she explains her approach to leadership. There are also times when she needs to be transparent and honest with her team, knowing that this is what propels them to do better. "Working on your inner confidence is so important so that when someone does doubt you, you don't take it personally because you know within yourself that you are capable," she advises when asked if she's faced challenges from being a woman in a male-dominated industry. When asked about her proudest career accomplishment, she reflects, "I think where I am right now. It's a busy season in life, but it's so rewarding to see and feel the positive impact my team is making."

As we honor the diverse journeys of Linda, Irene, and Lizelle, we are reminded that though we might not always have the answer, what's meant to be will always find us – that is, with a bit of hard work, passion, and commitment. Their collective stories serve as a reminder of the limitless potential that lies within each of us to effect positive change and drive innovation in an ever-changing world.

From Summer Job to Managing Director: Sonal Singhal's Journey in Logistics

March 15, 2024
From aspiring doctor to JAS India Managing Director, Sonal's journey is a testament to the power of passion, resilience, and dedication.
From aspiring doctor to JAS India Managing Director, Sonal's journey is a testament to the power of passion, resilience, and dedication.

Sonal Singhal never planned to work in freight forwarding. She had always aspired to be a doctor. Fate, however, had other plans for her when she stumbled upon a summer job in a freight forwarding company. Little did she know that this serendipitous opportunity would lay the foundation for her inspiring career in logistics. 

Fast forward more than 20 years, and now a seasoned veteran in the industry, Sonal joined JAS in 2020, where her initial days were met with many challenges. With no time for doubt or hesitation, she faced them head-on. Stepping into the role of Director of Sales & Marketing for India, she embarked on a journey of building a team from scratch during a global pandemic, and leading sales – something she had never done before. "While I couldn't travel and meet teams and customers in person, I was able to use that extra time to double down on the behind-the-scenes work," she recounts. 

Sonal's abilities and talents did not go unnoticed. In less than a year, she was named as Managing Director of India – making her one of just two female Managing Directors at JAS. Under her leadership, JAS India has experienced a change of culture coupled with remarkable growth and has become a pivotal player in the logistics space.  

She is humble in all her accomplishments but recognizes there is still work to be done.  

"I take pride in my role, but I also feel like I have a responsibility to mentor more women in this space, for leadership roles," she affirms, emphasizing the importance of mentorship, representation, and empowerment. As a woman navigating a predominantly male-dominated industry, Sonal acknowledges the challenges she's faced. "There are certain gender biases that still exist, it takes time to break those stigmas," she observes. Despite these obstacles, Sonal remains resilient, offering words of encouragement to aspiring women in the field. "Don't give up, and just keep doing your best," she advises, embodying perseverance and determination. 

She is passionate about the powerful role of encouragement and mentorship, as she knows first-hand how it feels when someone believes in you more than you believe in yourself. She recalls what made her stay on at her first freight forwarding company, "I actually didn't want to stay, but the head of the organization loved my work and encouraged me that I could succeed. I think the faith and belief he showed in me then was something that influenced me to stay. And history repeated itself at JAS, where leadership has entrusted the same confidence in me and gave me an opportunity which I couldn't have dreamed for myself, at least not so soon. This is a great sign at JAS with male allies promoting inclusivity and driving the change." 

Sonal remembers how that empowerment made her feel and now ingrains the same sentiment into her leadership philosophy. "Failures are yours, and success belongs to the team," she asserts, embodying a collaborative approach to leadership. She champions democratic decision-making and fosters a culture of open communication and feedback, recognizing the value of diverse perspectives. 

In addition to her professional endeavors, Sonal is a devoted mother of two teenage boys and is a loving daughter. Balancing her career with family responsibilities, she finds fulfillment in nurturing her children and maintaining strong ties with her parents – all with the support of her spouse, without which it would have been impossible. "I'm trying my best to raise them as men a society would like to see," Sonal lovingly shares. 

Sonal's journey is a testament to the power of passion, resilience, and dedication. As she continues to pave the way for women in logistics, her impact extends far beyond the boardroom, inspiring future generations of female leaders. 

JAS Women Bridging the Gap for Domestic Violence Survivors

March 1, 2024
In the heart of the JAS Worldwide New York office, two extraordinary women, Grisel Henriquez, and Ana Olivo, are rewriting the narrative for survivors of domestic violence through their nonprofit organization, ALNUA.
In the heart of the JAS Worldwide New York office, two extraordinary women, Grisel Henriquez, and Ana Olivo, are rewriting the narrative for survivors of domestic violence through their nonprofit organization, ALNUA.

In the heart of the JAS Worldwide New York office, two extraordinary women, Grisel Henriquez, and Ana Ruth Olivo, are rewriting the narrative for survivors of domestic violence through their nonprofit organization, ALNUA: Alzando Nuestras Alas (translated in English to Raising Our Wings). As we celebrate International Women's Month, it's essential to highlight the remarkable efforts of women like Grisel and Ana Ruth, who are making a profound community impact beyond their successful full-time careers. 

Established in mid-2020, ALNUA was born out of a shared vision to provide resources, information, education, and support to women navigating the complexities of domestic and intrafamily violence. For many survivors, breaking free from the vicious cycle of abuse can seem impossible. ALNUA aims to be the guiding light, offering a path to empowerment and healing. 

Grisel Henriquez began her journey at JAS in July 2022 as an Account Lead. Due to her exceptional performance and hard work, she was promoted to Warehouse Supervisor in 2023. Her professional success, however, pales in comparison to her personal triumphs. As a survivor of domestic violence herself, Grisel's courage to share her story inspired countless others. In July 2020, she authored her book, "Mariposa de Acero" (Steel Butterfly), which became a best-seller in three categories on Amazon within 24 hours of its formal launch. But for Grisel, this was just the beginning. 

Ana Ruth Olivo, also based in the JAS New York office, joined JAS as an administrative assistant in March 2022. Alongside her professional endeavors, Ana Ruth has pursued personal growth through education, completing a Neuro-linguistic program (NLP), a communication tool that helps influence behaviors through language – a skill that would prove essential in her nonprofit work. Her dedication to making a difference has been recognized by the Council of Paterson City, NJ, for Outstanding Civic Contribution. 

The year 2020 brought exceptional challenges, particularly for victims of domestic violence. As shelter-in-place orders swept the globe, reports of domestic violence surged. Victims found themselves trapped at home, with limited avenues for escape. Grisel, along with her friend and fellow JAS colleague Ana Ruth, recognized the urgent need for action. Equipped with Grisel's first-hand knowledge and Ana Ruth's empathetic nature, they founded ALNUA: Alzando Nuestras Alas. 

ALNUA's mission extends far beyond directing victims to resources. It's about fostering a society free of violence, instilling self-love and empowerment among survivors, equipping them with the tools and resources needed to reclaim their lives. Through career development workshops, access to counseling services, and outreach programs, ALNUA is creating a supportive network where women can find the courage to spread their wings and soar to new heights.  

What began as a team of two has blossomed into a thriving network of volunteers – from lawyers to psychologists offering a range of services tailored to meet survivors’ needs. In 2024, JAS’s philanthropy organization, the Bruni Foundation, got on board with ALNUA’s mission, enabling its expansion on a global scale. In November 2024, ALNUA will visit girls’ shelters in the Dominican Republic to continue its advocacy efforts and raise awareness about the resources available for victims of domestic violence – regardless of age or gender.  

As we celebrate International Women's Month, let us honor the resilience, determination, and dedication of women like Grisel Henriquez and Ana Ruth Olivo. Their tireless efforts through ALNUA serve as a testament to the power of women empowering women and remind us that together, we can break the cycle of violence and build a brighter future for all. 

Follow ALNUA's journey on social media and join us in supporting their mission to uplift and empower survivors of domestic violence. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those in need. 

Visit the ALNUA WebsiteFollow ALNUA on InstagramFollow ALNUA on Facebook
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