What qualifications are necessary?
Some employers may seek graduates with directly relevant degrees in logistics, supply-chain or transport planning/management, town planning, geography or engineering. There may also be a requirement for postgraduate masters-level qualifications in some areas, especially in transport planning. More information can be found in the article Routes into the profession.
In addition, you may be expected to undertake further study for professional qualifications and in some cases may be encouraged to pursue Chartered status with a relevant professional body.
Logistics and Supply Chain: There is no one particular discipline that is essential. Engineering or science qualifications are common but some logisticians have business or arts degrees. Graduates can expect to have on-the-job training to provide them with the knowledge specific to the sector in which they are employed.
Transport: Managers will be drawn from a range of educational backgrounds. Although, as with logistics, there is no one particular discipline that is essential, geography and environmental sciences are common degrees alongside specialist first degrees in transport management. The transport sector tends to offer a well-designed graduate management programme to provide experience across the range of operational areas.
Logistics and transport management are mainstream management careers, where individuals will be faced with the full range of management challenges. Those with the right skill set, who are keen to make a difference, are likely to be in great demand.
Whatever the background, the essential skills are:
- Commercial awareness
- Good problem solving skills
- Ability to think quickly, logically and analytically.
An appetite for learning new skills is also sought after, alongside project management and team working skills.
Excellent written and verbal skills are required supported by the ability and to present thoughts clearly and convincingly.
There are certain personal qualities and core competencies necessary for success. These can be broadly grouped into technology-related, people-related and general management skills.
Information technology plays a key role in the management of the supply chain and is an equally important tool to those involved in transport management and transport planning. Technology-related skills are therefore essential to all managers.
IT literacy – is the very minimum requirement for any manager today. Managers must be able to understand how information systems and technology can improve operational efficiency and competitiveness. In some cases advanced aptitude will be very helpful, for example in computer modelling or in project management.
Management information systems – all organisations use information technology to store data and information. Management information systems (MIS) are at the centre of everything we do, but you should not be put off if you are not a ‘techie’. What employers would not expect you to be writing programmes but rather to apply your analytical skills to get the best from the system to make the operations run smoothly.
People management is no less important to the success of an operation. Changes in union relations, new legislation, new patterns of working and the constant drive for higher productivity make enormous demands on managers. There is a strong emphasis on the importance of customer care across both sectors, and an ability to see the picture from both sides is a useful skill.
- Leadership – taking people with you, by being consistently clear on objectives, valuing the contributions of staff and colleagues and gaining their respect.
- Communication – ensuring that those you deal with (whether customers or colleagues) always understand what you mean and importantly that you listen to what others says. One of the biggest areas of conflict is ineffective communication.
- Team-building – motivating and developing people to work effectively together to achieve the desired result, including effective communication, full participation and maximum delegation with appropriate support and guidance.
- Interpersonal skills – these are always high on the professional agenda and skills and qualities that are especially important are enthusiasm, energy, drive, perceptiveness, analytical ability, calm, tenacity, adaptability and resilience.
General management skills
The modern workplace is a demanding environment that requires people to think on their feet to meet the daily challenges that come their way. This requires stamina back by strong skills in the following areas:
- Numeracy – with increasing sophistication, the need for numeracy becomes more essential and whilst not necessarily looking for a mathematics graduate, the ability to understand and analyse data is very important.
- Problem-solving – the ability to analyse the hard facts, the hunches and hearsay, and arrive at a logical, workable conclusion.
- Decision-making – having the ability to take often-vital decisions is essential to any management role, and this depends on quick and effective appraisal of relevant data, empathy and judgement. Failing to take decisions is never acceptable!
- Project management – such skills are of growing importance across both logistics and transport as people increasingly work in cross-functional teams.
Sounds like a tall order? No, not really, because despite the rapid rate of change in logistics and transport, common sense and a positive attitude will take you a long way in what is a very rewarding and satisfying career.