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East Midlands Chamber News

East Midlands enterprising women: Allison Kemp MBE

From legal and finance to logistics and housing, a wide range of sectors in the East Midlands are blessed with an even more diverse set of female talent in senior positions. To celebrate International Women's Day 2021 on 8 March, East Midlands Chamber profiles the inspiring stories behind 10 of the region's top enterprising women throughout the week.

AIM Commercial Services isn’t a typical business in the transport and logistics industry. Not only is it run by a woman but its team of 12 only includes three men.

Managing director Allison Kemp MBE is also one of two women in the company who hold a transport manager certificate of professional competence (CPC), a rarity in the industry.

Allison, who was appointed as chairwoman of Logistics UK’s Road Freight Council in February last year to lead the industry’s debate on the future of Britain’s road transport sector, says: “The certificate allows us to train other drivers and we’ll often be teaching classes full of men.

“Only about 1% of the industry’s workforce is made up of women but I don’t know why women shy away from it because there’s lots of roles they’d be good at and can bring a different perspective to the table.”

Allison admits she is “lucky” to never feeling out of place in the industry having grown up with it. Both her grandfathers worked in transport and logistics – Arthur owned a haulage firm and Charlie drove tipper trucks in quarries – while her father John was also director of Kettering-based logistics firm Knights of Old Group.

And though she worked in freight forwarding for her dad’s company at one stage, she says her big break came while working for another firm that helped her obtain the transport manager CPC – a significant qualification in the industry – aged 25.

Allison Kemp MBE believes in giving the next generation the right support to succeed 

That’s why she felt it was important to also give her employee Rachael Howarth the same opportunity at a similar age in her Ripley-based business, which she set up in 2004 and offers services including tachograph analysis, training and transport compliance auditing to more than 1,000 customers across the UK.

“Rachael initially doubted herself thinking she wasn’t old enough to do the CPC, but when I told her I’d been a similar age, she realised she could give it a go,” says the mum-of-one, who was awarded an MBE in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her work in the transport and logistics sector.

“Whether it’s me or other women, it’s important to have role models as it shows we can all do it if the circumstances are right and we have the support from colleagues and family, which I’ve been very lucky to have.

“I have another female employee who joined when she was 16. She’s now 21 and coming up the ranks so she’ll be heading up our tachograph department soon.

“She told me she never thought that opportunity would come to her, so it just shows that young women especially just need to be given a chance.”


This story features in the March edition of Business Network, which has a special enterprising women theme. To read the magazine, click here.