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Distribution and Logistics: Graduate Area of Work
Distribution and logistics deal with the management of the flow of consumer goods through the supply chain to the consumer.
A role in this sector entails the management and organisation of the storage and delivery of consumer goods from factories to the right retail outlets, while adhering to strict cost and time guidelines. This area of work is a complex and global business, with time and technology being critical factors affecting an organisation’s success.
Holding this role in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, you are required to work in areas such as transportation, stock control, warehousing and monitoring of the movement of goods. You may also be given the option to work in reverse logistics, where you will be involved in the management of waste and by-products that come about during the production and transportation process.
Most graduate roles in this area begin with a graduate scheme. Lasting about two years on average, you will learn the skills required to manage the people as well as systems involved in the supply chain.
Logistic roles in the FMCG industry involves working closely with customers such as supermarket chains and other retailers. With experience, you will get to improve your client-facing skills, and understand your customer’s needs. You will also be able to sharpen your problem-solving skills as you encounter time-sensitive issues throughout the process.
On the other hand, if you are placed in distribution roles, you will be involved with the warehousing and transportation of the goods. Typically, you will have to manage the warehouse workers, work in stock control and provide support services to major customers when needed. You may also find yourself needing to work alongside 3PL (third-party logistics) companies, which are organisations that outsource the logistics function.
In terms of career progression, you may pursue a managerial position as a logistics and distribution manager. Managers in this area of work coordinate inventory management, warehousing and transportation. They make strategic decisions to meet business objectives and liaise with relevant parties, such as manufacturing companies, retailers and resellers.
While they make top-level decisions in this area of work, managers are still needed to manage the nitty-gritty side of the job.
This area of work welcomes graduates from all degree backgrounds, though candidates with qualifications in logistics management, engineering, IT, economics and business studies may have a leg up during the hiring process.
Having work experience in warehouse management and delivery services would also make you stand out among other graduate applicants.
You will also need to showcase strong problem-solving, communication, organisational and analytical skills. Candidates need to be adaptable and be comfortable working with technology and information systems, while leading and managing teams, and dealing with customers.
Ups and downs
You are likely to work long hours on a daily basis. Weekend work is also something common in this sector. For major companies that operate on a global level, operations are usually carried out on a 24/7 basis – you can thus expect to do shift work if you join one of these companies.
Tight deadlines are also a common occurrence in this line of work, so the ability to remain calm under pressure is something you will need to possess to succeed in this field.
However, the stress often pays off when you see the impact of your work. This is especially so for those who favour hands-on work, and who dislike being chained to a desk for a living.