Five minutes with…
Genesee & Wyoming
How did your logistics career begin?
I never wanted to get into shipping at all, but my first job was at Allied Grain in Ipswich through the Youth Training Scheme as a ‘Girl Friday’, and I ended up typing their Bills of Lading. The scheme only paid £30 a week. I was just eager to earn more money. I moved around various freight forwarding companies throughout the eighties, becoming a clerk for customs entries, learning the tariffs and commodity codes and different types of duties applied to goods. Back then, you had to type out the C88’s and calculate the revenue payable, not like today, where it is calculated for you!
After having children, I came back into logistics and worked for a couple of freight forwarders again and ended up working for CEVA for 11 years as their customer service manager for the Primark account.
I then took a dramatic turn in my career by achieving my Level 7 CIPD in Human resource management and took my first HR role at the Port of Felixstowe itself. I loved this role in L&D and the exposure to HR, including employee relations which was a real eye-opener… I was then invited to work for Pentalver, and once they were bought by G&W, who also owns Freightliner, my role changed.
I am now the Talent Manager for both companies responsible for employee engagement, performance management, learning and development, diversity and inclusion, and utilising the apprenticeship levy to support the development of our existing staff and bring others into the business. Knowing the operational side of shipping and logistics helps support the needs of the company and the people.
How has the industry changed since you have been involved?
There is a lot more technology used now, data freight systems, VBS and port systems which mean there is a lot more compliance and auditing, making it easier to track and trace goods. Everything is so instant now as well; as a consumer, our demands are greater. Therefore, we are using larger ships, there are more trucks on the road, albeit more companies are trying to be environmentally friendly. The huge economic and technological changes mean we can shop and receive our goods within hours of placing an order. Warehouses are more automated, and we are more efficient at what we do with technology.
With Health and Safety being very much the number one priority in this industry for keeping employees safe at work and the public, there is a lot of focus not just on the physical well-being of individuals but also on the mental.
What do you love about your job as G&W’s Talent Manager?
This is very much a new role for the UK business, so I have had a blank canvas to work from.
We have developed our L&D strategy and are working towards creating a culture of learning, supporting the business to build an agile and responsive organisation and being more diverse and inclusive. No two days are the same as my tasks are not set and vary from supporting the delivery of our Trainee Train driver programme through the apprenticeship scheme to working with external training providers to develop specific courses to support the implementation of our new HR system.
I have been able to develop myself and learn so much. I have currently started the Level 5 Learning and Development Business Partner apprenticeship so that I can raise the profile of L&D and be more strategic myself.
If you had three wishes to change the industry, what would they be?
I don’t think I want to change it other than for transport to be more environmentally friendly and for the industry to be more recognised as a great career opportunity. We should be trying to encourage more apprenticeships and graduate schemes as there is so much logistics has to offer. The roles can be so diverse from driving, engineering, planning, operational safety, finance and procurement, IT and of course HR & L&D, to list just a few.
Finally, what advice would you give to your younger self?
This is a very reflective question.
Take every opportunity to learn more, and take help and advice offered. Make sure to find time for myself, work to live and not the other way around – all three things I should do now!.