An in-depth look at logistics careers for National Lorry Week.
30 under 30 - Spotlight on under 30’s within the Pall-Ex Group and its networks.
To celebrate the RHA’s National Lorry Week, Pall-Ex Group wanted to shine a spotlight on the many young people whose logistics careers help keep the country on the move.
Across the Pall-Ex Group, including staff from both the Pall-Ex and Fortec palletised freight distribution networks and those from their members across the country, so many young people work tirelessly to ensure deliveries and collections are made, customers are supported and systems continue to run smoothly.
The variety of careers in the logistics sector is staggering! Yet, when we surveyed 30 young people across the Group, 80% said they had not been educated about the industry whilst at school and many of them did not realise the breadth of opportunities working in the logistics sector could provide.
In spite of this, seven of the 30 people surveyed (23%) said they entered the industry either straight from school or via an apprenticeship and as can be seen, later on, some now hold Director level roles in the industry. This shows that opportunities to build rewarding logistics careers are out there for young people.
Some of the feedback from our survey also showed that many of the women in the industry believed it to be “male-dominated” before joining. However, 53% of the respondents were female, demonstrating that perhaps the industry is more balanced than many believe.
In 2018, the average age of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers in the UK was 47.8 years of age, according to the FTA Logistics Report 2019. In order to encourage more young people to consider working in logistics, we are determined to highlight some of the opportunities available to young people throughout the sector, by sharing the fantastic stories of 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 route into the logistics industry, having first trained in journalism and PR, she worked with a number of PR agencies before joining the sector.
Having learned nothing about the logistics industry at school and believing it to be male-dominated and fast-paced, she is now surprised to find herself loving her logistics career with Aylesbury Logistics.
In Aylesbury Logistics, Jessica found a home within an incredibly friendly, pro-active team, which is a welcome change to her previous PR agency experiences.
Her role as Network Operator encompasses a wide variety of tasks each day, none of which ever seem to be quite the same!
From customer service and managing their expectations to handling new bookings and dealing with any issues in an efficient and professional manner, it is non-stop for Jessica and the team at Aylesbury, but she wouldn’t change a thing!
Explaining 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 to 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
Having come from a family with a background in the sector, the decision to pursue a logistics career was a fairly simple one for Chris.
His first role in the industry came as a part-time job whilst studying for a Business A-Level, when Chris worked for an airline, handling mail and cargo. Starting as a part-time Loader, he soon progressed to become Operations Supervisor. During this time he was constantly dealing with weights and measures due to the nature of air-cargo, as well as cargo security and general logistics and operational challenges.
These roles and the experience he gained during his time with the airline meant he quickly had the industry under his skin and any roles in the future would likely keep him working in logistics.
When Chris arrived at Shears Brothers (Transport) Ltd he began as a Network Controller and has now progressed to his current position of Network Manager.
Each day is different, with various challenges and opportunities presenting themselves on an almost hourly basis. However, Chris’ overall responsibility is to oversee the smooth operation of the business across its network operations. This can include Key Account management, transport planning and communicating with other members throughout the network.
Chris explained some common misconceptions that he has encountered when it comes to the logistics industry, commenting; “A lot of people underestimate the hours that go into making sure an operation like this 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 the future set to see Chris remain in the sector, he is looking forward to continuing 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 practises.
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 gaining a Level 3 qualification in Electrotechnical Engineering at Worcester College, Andrew found himself searching for apprenticeships to further develop his skills. Due to the recession, positions in this field were extremely hard to come by, but after seeing an advert for an apprenticeship in Transport and Warehousing with a local haulage company, he applied and hasn’t looked back since.
Whilst completing his apprenticeship, he gained his Class Two licence and quickly picked up a lot of knowledge about working in the logistics industry. He soon went on to earn his Class One licence as well as his managerial, international CPC. Andrew’s experience shows that the logistics sector can be a fantastic place for professional development, as the accreditations and qualifications didn’t just stop there. He went on to earn a raft of others, including RAC Risk Assessment and IOSH Managing Safety qualifications.
After continuing his development and gaining yet more industry knowledge, Andrew moved to a larger transport company where he took up the role of Transport Manager, responsible for the operation of a fleet of vehicles in excess of 50 units and trailers.
As is a recurring theme, Andrew was not made aware of any opportunities to work in logistics whilst he was at school or college. As a result, he had very limited knowledge of the sector and his perceptions of what it involves were by his own admission, completely wrong.
However, after starting as an apprentice, he and his business partners have now set up Superior Freight Limited, which operates 12 vehicles and turns over in excess of £2 million per year.
Commenting on his logistics career progression, 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 if he had any words of wisdom for anyone considering logistics as a possible career, 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
Having come from a background of aviation operations and crewing, Charlotte believed that working in logistics may be somewhat tough and unwelcoming. Fortunately, after making the decision to join Channel Seaways & Alderney Shipping in Guernsey, she has not regretted it.
When asked about her time with the company and within the sector, she said; “Everyone is so friendly and any worries I had about feeling unwelcome were very quickly gone!
This sector can be seen as male-dominated, but there are so many women continuing to enter the industry and making it much more diverse, and I’m glad to be one of them making that happen.”
Knowing very little about the industry or logistics careers, having not been shown the opportunities available whilst studying at school, Charlotte has learnt quickly that logistics offers a wealth of opportunities, experiences and challenges, that make it one of the most diverse industries out there.
In her role as Freight Operations Administrator, she takes on various tasks each day, including customer service, processing customs documentation, organising collections and deliveries and sometimes secures freight for sea voyages.
As in all walks of life, obstacles can often present themselves and this is something Charlotte enjoys about the job. Just as the days are always different, so are the solutions she must apply to new challenges.
Logistics can be a tricky balancing act of diverting resources to where they are most needed at the best of times, in order to ensure collections and deliveries are made when promised. However, working on the Channel Island of Guernsey, Charlotte encounters one more variable. The sea.
“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 careers opportunities open to her 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 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
When Lauren attended college, it was to study Animal Welfare. A very far cry from the Corporate Commercial Analysis role she now finds herself in.
As is the case with many young people, Lauren worked on the checkouts at her local supermarket initially, but she found this wasn’t quite right for her. After moving around various departments, she began driving delivery vans for the supermarket and following multiple promotions, was soon managing the e-commerce team.
Having left this role for a sales and design job with a sportswear brand, Lauren received an offer to join the parcel sector, which would allow her to fully utilise the skills and knowledge she had acquired during her time with the supermarket giant. Ever since then, Lauren has been developing a career in the logistics industry.
Now, in her role with Pall-Ex, Lauren is tasked with running and creating reports and she must have an understanding of what's going on in different parts of the business to be able to analyse and interpret the data accurately and then provide summaries to the relevant people and departments.
Using the data available, she recommends changes to improve efficiencies which could enhance the customer and business experience.
When asked about her perceptions of the sector before working in logistics, Lauren said; “We were not taught about the 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 into making constant fixes and improvements to help business growth is staggering!”
Finally, Lauren offered some advice to anyone who may not have considered the logistics sector as a 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.”
As can be seen from the stories of just some of the fantastic under 30’s working within the Pall-Ex Group of Companies and various members, logistics provides opportunities at all levels and in so many varied roles.
Pall-Ex Group is proud to support young people as they enter careers in the logistics sector and help to create a stronger, more successful and diverse industry, that is open and offers opportunities to all people, regardless of age, gender, race or beliefs.
For more information about how we work, please click here or if you are interested in joining the team at Pall-Ex, please visit our vacancies page, to see what roles we currently have available.