Head Office, 17-27 Queen's Square
17-27 Queen's Square
North Yorkshire

At PD Ports we believe it is important to encourage female colleagues and allies to come together to discuss key issues and give support to women within the maritime industry. Which is why last year we set up a Women’s Network Group to:

  • Increase Representation and Visibility
  • Encourage Support and Mentorship
  • Work Towards Breaking Stereotypes and Bias
  • Create Safe Spaces
  • Advocate and Influence

As part of our international women’s day celebrations PD Ports would like to thank the women who lead our Women’s Network Group and work together to help keep the group focused and moving in the right direction.

Sponsor: Liz Law (Group Chief Financial Officer)

Lead: Patti Burt (Key Accounts and Rail Development Manager)

Administrator: Sophie Tunnicliffe (Office Manager)

Employee Network Groups (ENG) provide a forum for people who have a passion for, or a connection with, a particular aspect of inclusion and diversity.  The aim of ENG’s is to provide networking opportunities and community support, organise events to raise awareness and provide education, contribute ideas and suggestions for ways the organisation can be more diverse and inclusive.

Key Account Manager Patti Burt talks us through her career journey, the challenges she’s faced being the only female in a male-dominated working environment, and how she hopes leading the PD Ports Women’s Network will inspire positive change.

How did you get started in the port industry?  

I was working in the retail industry very early on in my career, but I always knew that I wanted to work in business. My degree was in Business Management, and I was looking for opportunities, after an encouraging conversation with my next-door neighbour who was a long-time PD Ports employee, I sent in my CV on spec.  

It didn’t take long for an opportunity to come up and I remember driving in for my interview and seeing the port for the first time – I couldn’t believe what was there, having lived here my whole life and never seeing it before, it was like another world existed! I was delighted to be offered the role of Import and Export Coordinator for the Asda and Tesco distribution operations, based in Unitised.  

What do you most enjoy about working in the port industry?  

Since my first job here I’ve worked my way up and had several different roles, but all with a customer focus – this is what I love.  I’m now the Key Account Manager for Unitised in the Commercial team, seeking new business opportunities and converting them into wins. When I first moved into the Commercial area, as Key Account Manager for Taylors, I was advised to develop my knowledge and experience of the physical operations even more, so I could have first-hand experience to enable me to authentically connect with customers and their issues. I worked for 3 months in Transport, another 3 months in a Warehouse, I passed my forklift truck exam (and passed first time!), I de- vanned containers, stacked pallets in the racking, shrink wrapped pallets – it was all very hands on, as well as 3 months in Freight Forwarding and 3 on the operational admin side. I’m thankful I did it as it makes me a better manager now, as I understand the work – what can stop the operation, what can cause delays and how to solve things. There are more women doing this now, but back then there was only myself doing this.  

Have you experienced any obstacles in your career that are related to being a woman in a traditionally more male-populated industry? 

When I was offered my first role in Unitised, nearly 20 years ago, it was explained to me that I would be the only woman working in the terminal. It didn’t bother me, and I didn’t see it as a problem at all. There were some practical issues though that in time we worked through – initially there were only male toilets and no sanitary facilities. It did cause me some embarrassment, but I wasn’t afraid to speak up for what I needed, for things which hadn’t been considered before.  

I think it might have been a novelty at first to have a woman in the mix and the culture back then was very different to what it is now. Some of the guys there would comment on my clothes, on my weight, and questioned if I’d know left from right – but this attitude spurred me on to prove myself. 

What do you think the PD Ports Women’s Network Group can help with? 

I do enjoy the challenge of proving myself in traditionally male-perceived roles, and I also love seeing other women doing the same and supporting them to progress wherever I can.  

I’ve recently agreed to become the new lead for the Women’s Networking Group, which aims to provide networking opportunities and community support for women and supporters of issues which women typically face. We want to organise events that raise awareness of these issues and provide education and a way for people to contribute ideas that will create a more inclusive, equitable, and successful workplace for everyone.  

Do you think it is important to stand up for equality?  

I do. Even though things have improved significantly, challenges and stereotypes remain which can be damaging to women’s prospects. Only this week as we were planning the communications to raise awareness of International Women’s Day (IWD), organised by the United Nations. We suddenly realised that the UK arm of IWD we’d been following and aligning our work to, was simply run by a marketing company and not at all to do with actual International Women’s Day! Through their marketing they had positioned themselves as the UK voice on this subject and had a whole suite of social media marketing and images which had a dominant theme of pink and heart shapes! We are very proud to be aligning to the true Intentional Women’s Day theme #InvestInWomen, which aims to raise awareness of the ongoing gender pay gaps (where men are paid more than women on average, for the same job) and how creating progress for women and supporting their career development can help more women into leadership positions.  

What does being an ally within the Women’s Network Group mean? 

You don’t need to be female to be able to help make a difference. Allies can join in with problem solving, providing support and commit to calling out issues when they see them. Being part of the group means you will hear more about people’s experiences – it can then open your eyes to issues you won’t necessarily have realised before, if it’s not happened to you.   

Why do you think it’s important to inspire the next generation? 

I would love the next generation to feel like a difference has been made. My daughters are 13 and 14, and I don’t want them to grow up and think there’s certain jobs that are just for men. If you are considering being involved in the Women’s Network Group, I’d encourage you to think about you want your children to choose a career – maybe through this group we can make a difference to people’s mindsets.  

Do you have any female role models that have inspired you? 

Kim Catterick (General Manager – PD Ports Commercial Department), 100%. She is a trailblazer as a strong woman in leadership in a traditionally male industry. She has inspired my confidence – I used to be quite timid growing up, partly because I was bi-lingual (my mother is from Poland) and so I didn’t really speak very much under the age of ten as I found speaking two languages confusing. When I joined this business, the fire within me was lit and it’s been growing ever since, but I still felt like I had stabilisers on. Working with Kim, who always says it how it is, she’s guided me, and she’s encouraged me to take those stabilisers off. She’s had such a great career herself and she inspires me to just keep on going and breakthrough even more barriers. 

Stay tuned for more National Careers Week and International Women’s Day content, visit our social media platforms to see how we’ve celebrated the week so far.

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Award Winning

PD Ports awarded Gold Status from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for its commitment to health and safety excellence for the third consecutive year.

PD Ports - RoSPA Award Winner 2023