A spotlight on logistics careers for National Lorry Week
30 Under 30 - Highlighting under 30’s within the Fortec network and the Pall-Ex Group
In celebration of the RHA’s National Lorry Week, Fortec, part of the Pall-Ex Group, wanted to highlight the many young people whose careers in logistics help keep the country moving and our shelves stocked.
Throughout Pall-Ex Group, including members of staff from the Fortec and Pall-Ex palletised freight distribution networks and those from their membership around the UK, so many young people work tirelessly, ensuring that businesses are supported with all of their logistics requirements.
There is such a wide range of careers available in the logistics sector. However, when 30 young people across Pall-Ex Group were surveyed, 80% said they were not educated about the logistics industry whilst at school and many were unaware of the variety of opportunities working in the logistics sector could offer.
Nevertheless, almost a quarter of the 30 respondents (23%) said that they entered the logistics industry immediately after they left school or via an apprenticeship. Later on, it is noted how some of these individuals are now Directors within the sector. This shows that there are opportunities available to young people looking to build rewarding careers in logistics.
According to the feedback from our survey, many of the women in the industry believed it to be “male dominated” before joining. However, over half (53%) of those who responded were female, showing that perhaps the logistics industry’s gender split is more balanced than many believe.
According to the FTA Logistics Report 2019, the average age of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers in the UK was 47.8 years of age in of 2018.
In an attempt to encourage more young people to think about working in logistics, we are determined to highlight some of the various opportunities available to young people throughout the sector, by sharing the incredible stories of just some of our great people during National Lorry Week.
Jessica Clegg – Network Operator, Aylesbury Logistics Ltd, Pall-Ex shareholder member
Jessica took a rather unusual path into the logistics industry. Having previously trained in journalism and PR, she worked with a number of PR agencies before joining the sector.
The logistics industry was something she had learned nothing about at school, and believing it to be male dominated and fast paced before joining, she is now pleasantly surprised to find herself loving her logistics career with Aylesbury Logistics.
Jessica believes she found a home within an incredibly friendly, pro-active team at Aylesbury Logistics, which is a welcome contrast to her previous experiences with PR agencies.
Her role as Network Operator means she completes a wide range of tasks each day, none of which ever seem to be quite the same!
From customer service duties and managing expectations, to handling new consignment bookings and responding to any issues in an efficient and professional manner, the role is non-stop for Jessica and the team at Aylesbury, but there is not a thing she would change!
Describing what she enjoys most about working in logistics, Jessica commented; “It is an incredible, friendly industry. The teams are very close and support each other so much.
“Our managers like the depot to work to a high standard so we do our best to keep that standard up.
“I look forward to coming into work every day, and that is thanks to my team. They have become my family!”
Looking ahead to her future, Jessica believes it lies firmly within the sector, saying; “There are so many opportunities for progression if you work hard and you are patient. There is so much to learn from so many great people.
“I hope to be here for a long time, working with my closest friends and continuing to develop my skills and knowledge”.
Chris Churchill – Network Manager, Shears Bros. (Transport) Ltd, Pall-Ex Owned Operation
With his family having a background in the sector, Chris’ decision to pursue a logistics career was a relatively easy one.
His first role in the industry was a part-time job whilst studying for an A-Level in Business, when Chris worked for an airline handling mail and cargo. Starting as a part-time Loader, he quickly progressed, becoming Operations Supervisor not long into his career. During this time he was always having to deal with weights and measures because of the nature of air-cargo, as well as strict cargo security and general logistical and operational challenges.
The experience he gained during his time with the airline meant that, soon, the industry had gotten under his skin and any jobs in the future would likely keep him working in logistics.
Chris began as a Network Controller when he joined Shears Brothers (Transport) Ltd in Bournemouth and has since continued to develop and progress. He is now Network Manager for the business.
Every day is different, with a variety of different challenges and opportunities presenting themselves constantly. However, Chris’ main responsibility is to oversee the efficient performance of the business across its network operations. This can involve Key Account management, transport planning and communicating regularly with other members throughout the network.
Since starting his career in logistics, Chris has encountered some common misconceptions from people who don’t understand the industry. On this, he comments; “A lot of people underestimate the hours that go in to making sure an operation like Shears runs smoothly.
“We have to be able to react to situations 24 hours a day and I think many people just don’t realise what it takes to get their delivery to them.”
With Chris looking set to remain in the sector, he is excited to carry on with his journey up the logistics career ladder. He says; “This is definitely an industry where it pays to get in early and work your way up, learning from those around you and finding ways to improve on the established practices.
“One day, I hope to become a General Manager of a business like Shears and be able to build a successful operation to support a wide-range of customers, thanks to the knowledge I have gained over the years in the industry.”
Andrew Johns – Operations Director, Superior Freight Limited, Fortec member
After achieving a Level 3 qualification in Electrotechnical Engineering at Worcester College, Andrew went searching for apprenticeships to continue developing his skills. Unfortunately, as a result of the recession, positions in this area were extremely difficult to find, but after seeing an advert for an apprenticeship in Transport and Warehousing with a local haulage firm, he applied for the position and hasn’t looked back since.
Whilst completing his apprenticeship with the haulage company, he earned his Class Two licence and soon picked up a large amount of knowledge about working in the logistics industry. He then went on to gain his Class One licence as well as various qualifications including his managerial, international CPC. Andrew’s story is a great example of how the logistics sector can be a fantastic place for professional development, as the accreditations and qualifications didn’t stop there. He later went on to earn others, including RAC Risk Assessment and IOSH Managing Safety qualifications.
After continuing his development and gathering yet more industry knowledge, Andrew moved to a larger transport firm where he became the business’ Transport Manager, with the operation of a fleet of vehicles in excess of 50 units and trailers the primary focus of his role.
In what seems to be a recurring theme, Andrew was not made aware of any opportunities to work in logistics whilst attending school or college. Because of this, his knowledge of the logistics sector was limited and his ideas of what is involved were completely wrong, by his own admission.
In spite of this, after starting as an apprentice, Andrew and his business partners have since set up Superior Freight Limited, which operates a fleet of 12 vehicles and has an annual turnover in excess of £2 million.
Reflecting on his progression in his logistics career so far, Andrew says; “It is a very difficult and stressful sector to be in, however, it is very rewarding when processes and operations are done right, meaning we provide the best possible service for our customers.
“I really enjoy working with other haulage companies as a team and creating a network of people that helps deliver the best possible service for our customers.
“I hope in the coming years we will grow to become one of the leading transport and storage providers in the area!”
Asked whether he had any words of advice for people considering a career in logistics, he said; “There are so many opportunities available, from apprenticeships to director level roles. We have employed an apprentice who is still with us three years on and have recently taken on another.
“You never know what is around the corner and logistics offers so much flexibility and choice depending on which path you choose.”
Charlotte Robert – Freight Operations Administrator, Channel Seaways & Alderney Shipping, Fortec member
With her previous roles in the aviation industry, Charlotte believed that working in logistics may result in a tough and unwelcoming career. Fortunately, after making the decision to join Channel Seaways & Alderney Shipping in Guernsey, she has no regrets.
When Charlotte was asked about her time so far with the company and within the logistics sector, she said; “Everyone is so friendly and any worries I had about feeling unwelcome were very quickly removed!
“This industry can be seen as male dominated but there are so many women continuing to enter the sector and making it much more diverse and I’m glad to be one of them making that happen.”
Not knowing very much about the industry or careers in logistics, having not been shown the opportunities available whilst in education, Charlotte has learnt quickly that logistics offers a wide range of opportunities, challenges and experiences that make it one of the most diverse industries to be a part of.
As a Freight Operations Administrator, Charlotte takes on various tasks each day, which include customer service, processing customs documents, organising collections and deliveries and sometimes secures freight to ensure it is ready for sea voyages.
As is often the way, obstacles regularly present themselves and this is an aspect of the job that Charlotte enjoys. Just as the days are always different, so are the solutions she must apply to overcome the new challenges.
Even at the best of times, logistics can be a tricky balancing act of diverting resources to where they are most needed, in order to ensure all collections and deliveries are made on-time. However, working on Guernsey, the sea is another variable that Charlotte must contend with.
“This is probably one of the biggest challenges of my role” she explains.
“Being surrounded by water makes life tricky sometimes, as the weather plays a huge part in island life and getting goods over to and from England.”
Charlotte also appreciates the career opportunities available within the logistics industry, adding; “I really have the opportunity to grow in confidence, build on critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
“It is also amazing that I have the chance to train in a more areas than most other industries have access too, meaning I can continue to learn and develop my skills every day.
“Hopefully, along with this, I am able to provide a good service and be relied upon by colleagues and customers and I continue to build a good reputation for myself and the business.”
Lauren Pullin – Corporate Commercial Analyst, Pall-Ex
Lauren studied Animal Welfare when she attended college, which is a very far cry from the Corporate Commercial Analysis role she now finds herself in within the logistics industry.
As is the case with many young people, Lauren began her working life on the checkouts at her local supermarket, but she found this didn’t quite suit her. After moving between different departments, she began driving delivery vans for the supermarket and following multiple promotions, was soon managing the e-commerce team for the business.
After leaving this role to take on a sales and design job with a sportswear brand, Lauren received an offer to join the parcel sector, an opportunity that would allow her to put the skills and knowledge she had acquired during her time with the supermarket to good use. Ever since then, Lauren has been developing her career in the logistics industry.
Now, in her role with Pall-Ex, Lauren is responsible for running and creating in-depth reports. To do this, it is important that she has a full understanding of what is going on throughout various parts of the business, so she is able to analyse and interpret the data accurately and then provide summaries to the relevant teams and managers.
Using the data available to her, she makes recommendations of changes that can be made to increase efficiencies, which could improve the experience for both the customer and the business.
Speaking about her perceptions of the sector before working in logistics, Lauren said; “We weren’t taught about the logistics industry at school or college. It was just not something I really knew about.
“I imagined it was fast paced, long hours and a job that was mainly focussed on driving and operations.
“The range of roles involved is crazy! All of the people and tasks involved in moving one item and repeating those tasks thousands of times, every single day, let alone the work that goes in to making constant fixes and improvements to help business growth is staggering!”
In conclusion, Lauren offered some advice to anyone who may not have thought about the logistics sector as a possible career option, saying; “Any experience you have can be applied to a role in the logistics sector, keep an open mind.
“Even if you're already in the industry, your current role doesn't have to be your forever job as you can develop your skills and diversify within the sector.”
It is clear, thanks to the stories of just some of the fantastic under 30’s working within the Pall-Ex Group of Companies and its various members, that the logistics industry provides opportunities at all levels and in so many different roles.
Fortec, and the Pall-Ex Group, is proud to support young people as they start their careers in the logistics sector, as they help to create a better, more successful and more diverse industry, that is open and offers opportunities to everyone, regardless of age, gender, race or beliefs.
If you would like more information about our network and how we work, please click here.