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Spotlight on Success: DHL's Patricia MacPherson

Patricia MacPherson was intrigued last September by a small display ad she saw in The Boston Globe for the Women For Hire expo at the Sheraton Boston. “There were a couple of things that piqued my interest,” says MacPherson, 39. “One was that there was a networking seminar beforehand. I also liked the idea that it was specifically geared towards women. So I pretty much figured what the heck, I’ll give it a try.”

Within hours of talking to a recruiter from DHL at the event— that afternoon—MacPherson had an interview with a district manager. Within weeks—just two weeks before Christmas—she began working at DHL. It was trial by fire, she says, since holidays are the toughest time for a delivery company. She passed the test.

Today, she is a DHL field service supervisor at its Stoneham, Mass., facility, managing drivers, physically sorting packages and lately, running a local part-time hiring initiative. MacPherson is one of thousands of women across the USA who have found careers through Women For Hire expos.

For women planning to attend any of Women For Hire’s 10 fall expos, MacPherson has this advice: “Keep in mind there are opportunities and it can move quickly. It did for me.” She came to Women For Hire as many women do: looking to get back to work after some years off to raise kids. MacPherson hadn’t worked for a decade while her children were young, but she knew that she had valuable skills that someone would appreciate. She just had to connect with the right company.

So she did her homework before the Boston expo, narrowing the list of companies that planned to be there with ones that interested her and then looking at the kinds of positions they were interviewing for and matching it with her skills.

Before having children—now 12, 8 and 5—MacPherson helped arrange pickups of donated clothing and household items for the charity Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, so she knew quite a bit about customer service, pickups and deliveries. “My background is pretty much in a male-dominated industry and being a woman in that industry makes me stick out. Fortunately for me it has been for the good.” MacPherson says.

“In general being able to stand out in the crowd makes me more visible,” she says. “I thought that a lot of women going to the expo would not be going in that direction so I was assuming I would stand out among other women there. I think I did because I was interested in transportation logistics, but also because I was pretty aggressive.”

She found the networking seminar beforehand helpful. “I hadn’t been in the work force for a decade and it was a nice refresher. It felt good to me personally to be among other women who were in a similar situation. It felt good to be a part of that again. I really liked the caliber of women who went to the event: a lot of women in different places in life. My age, younger and older, at different career levels.”

Having career expos geared to women “makes it more of a comfortable situation” to discuss careers, MacPherson says. “As opposed to girls on one side, guys on the other, like at a high school dance.”

Returning to work, she says, was “an adjustment for my family. I feel lucky that my husband (David, who works in construction) has been supportive and able to rearrange his time to handle some of what I do. For a good number of years I was basically the Kool-Aid mom on our block. That has changed but I still make it a point to spend time with my children.”

She has told friends to attend Women For Hire expos. “It’s not scary at all. It’s not a job interview. If anything, it’s good practice for getting involved or moving forward in your job search. There’s a lot opportunity there. Keep an open mind as to what can happen.”