In global logistics, road shipments are the most popular transport mode. By road, delivery is flexible and available to anywhere there is a road. It is also a link between sea, rail and air transport modes. Mobility, speed, efficiency, and adaptability are qualities that make road transport a good choice – and that make a good transport specialist.
Natalia Shemyakina, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Road Transportation in Southern and Northern Europe as well as in the CIS countries, has been working at AsstrA since 2000. She started with the Italy Department’s team of “universal soldiers” responsible for both finding customers and building carrier relationships.
Today she is an Operational Specialist. Here we asked her what information she believes future AsstrA freight forwarders should know.
- Let's start with education. What’s the best degree for a freight forwarder to have?
For an operations officer, or in other words a freight forwarder, an academic background in linguistics is an excellent foundation. A freight forwarder has to use one or two foreign languages every day, so being good at them is a priority.
A degree in logistics is not required, but it would be a plus. At AsstrA there is plenty of on-the-job training. The AsstrA Training Center provides learning material, and professional mentors will share practical knowledge and experience. In addition, the company's experts have created a "Forwarder's Textbook" containing all the basic information that new and experienced logistics professionals should know.
- Are there any additional information sources you would recommend for current or soon-to-be logistics professionals who want to improve their skills?
In my opinion there are two types of skills: hard and soft.
Hard skills are based on know-how gained on the job in the logistics industry. New AsstrA team members can build their hard skills by viewing a wide range of internal and external presentations and workshops on, for example, the basics of international transport, specific details to consider when transporting dangerous goods, country-specific certification requirements, and documentation standards. Also, as a basic training manual on logistics, I recommend "International Road Transport" by I.I. Karbanovich.
Soft skills are competencies that support effective overall workflows not specifically related to logistics. Examples would the abilities to competently conduct dialogues, handle negotiations, and set priorities. I would recommend focusing on:
- the basics of effective negotiations,
- how to work with objections,
- bargaining skills, and
- best practices for business correspondence.
In a pandemic, emotional resilience and time management skills are also highly beneficial.
- What professional and personal qualities should future freight forwarders pay particular attention to developing?
At the beginning of your career, be curious and ask questions to gain as much knowledge as possible from experienced staff, educational presentations, and crisis situations. When you are just starting to build your reputation as a forwarder, make sure you complete assignments in full and on time. Be proactive and offer help to your colleagues in your department.
Each AsstrA forwarder bears responsibility for our corporate quality standards. When organizing global transportation, always follow our standard operating procedures, provide superior customer service, choose reliable suppliers, and select appropriate vehicles. Be sure to monitor cargo location on a daily basis and verify that it is loaded, unloaded, and delivered on schedule.
As your career progresses, add to your overall knowledge of the transportation market. The more you know about how the industry works internationally and in specific countries, the better you will be able to avoid risks and financial losses. Being able to refer to regulatory frameworks, international conventions and agreements, and authoritative Internet publications will help you hold constructive discussions with partners.