It is up to both men and women to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling: Sarbani Sengupta, DHL

Sarbani Sengupta

Sarbani Sengupta is currently the Vice President – Customer Service (CS) at DHL Express India, the world’s leading express company, and is part of the Senior Management Team that has contributed to the growth of DHL Express in India as the leading International Express provider. During her tenure at DHL Express, Sengupta has led several key initiatives that have transformed the organisation’s culture to one of customer-centricity. Sarbani has been awarded ‘A Leading Woman in Transportation’ & the ‘Women Leadership and Innovation’ awards. In a candid chat with Logistics Insider, Ms Sengupta tells us about unlocking one’s full potential in the industry as a woman.

Major Milestones

“I joined the logistics industry almost two decades ago, when it was just beginning to become important for businesses. Brick and mortar still prevailed as the primary channel of fulfilling the supply chain, but as globalization started to emerge as a trend for world economies, logistics also became increasingly important. When I look back, the major milestones over my journey of 18 years can be described as follows:

  • Building the capability of our Big Yellow Machine – By hiring motivated people and investing in world-class infrastructure, growing multifold in scale, size and excellence    
  • Creating our Insanely Customer Centric Culture (ICCC) – Our competitive differentiation and secret sauce
  • Establishing DHL as the leading player in the logistics industry and being ranked number one by Great Place to Work® in 2021
  • Growing as a leader and an individual through my personal interests – fitness, mindfulness and poetry”


“My career in logistics started in 2004, after more than 10 years in the financial services industry. I chose to view the challenges as opportunities and learning experiences. I genuinely believe that the challenges helped me to unlock my full potential. At DHL Express, I feel valued for the unique viewpoint that I bring to the table, not just as a woman but also as a leader, respected for my experience, insights, imagination, and compassion. The culture of diversity that we drive and live at the Deutsche Post DHL Group has allowed me to turn challenges into opportunities for learning and growth. So forget challenges, it has been quite the reverse!”

Experience in a male-dominated industry

“Lately, the industry has witnessed several women acquiring key leadership positions in logistics. At DPDHL Group, women constitute over a third of the total workforce, and currently, 15% of the Board of Directors are women. In India, our team has more than 3000 employees, of which 11% of our workforce are women, and we have almost 30% gender diversity in our Board Room.

“My own experience has been fruitful and fulfilling on a personal level. Additionally, I find it heartening to see many more women at entry levels and at middle management positions who are making a mark in our organization.”

Company’s future map

“As John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express, has said recently, “Everything has changed, and nothing has changed.” Despite the two years of being in a socially distant world, enabled by digitalization, I find that the power of a human connection still matters. By leveraging these forces, we have adopted several initiatives, essentially a mix of digital and traditional methods, to cater to our customers’ needs in 2022.

“We are committed to digitalizing, automating and simplifying trade processes. Additionally, we are aiming to be a sustainable business by adopting a digital and paperless approach, moving towards solar power at some of our DHL Express’ service centers, reducing our carbon footprint through last mile deliveries, and many more GoGreen initiatives in line with DPDHL Group’s zero emissions commitment by 2050.”

Making a better work environment for women in the industry

“We believe that cultural changes must permeate from top to bottom, and bottom to top, where every member of the organization understands the contribution and value that women bring to the table, without which growth would be limited. I believe that organizations must have a diversity council actively promoting this mindset, as we do. There should be forums to discuss and formulate diversity-friendly policies that support women to join the workforce, grow in their career paths, and assume leadership roles.”

Support from the opposite gender

“It is imperative for us to understand that gender equality cannot be achieved by women alone or by focusing exclusively on women. It concerns both women and men and requires the active involvement of both. There is the important issue of psychological safety. So, men who hold a majority of the leadership positions have to play an active role in ensuring women’s safety and reducing the gender-wage gap thereby, promoting gender equality. In addition to this, men play an important role in reducing bias, not stereotyping women at the workplace, recognizing their achievements and celebrating their contribution, so that women may be more confident and skilled and achieve higher levels of excellence.”

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