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Are you considering a career in Logistics? This logistics team leader tells about how he transitioned from a military background to a leadership role in the private medical sector in this interview.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I am a Logistics Team Leader in the medical device manufacturing industry. I have worked as a logistics professional for four years. If I had to describe myself using three adjectives, I would have to use "flexible," "resourceful" and "scientific."

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am a Caucasian male. I have not experienced any discrimination in the past.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: As a logistics team leader, I am responsible for three primary things. First, I provide leadership and managerial support for logistics team consisting of a combination of coordinators, analysts and trade compliance specialists. I ensure that the team has the resources to do their individual jobs by managing their workloads and acting as a liaison with human resources, information technology and facilities support. Secondly, I manage the activities of our partnered third-party logistics service provider (3PL). I ensure that the 3PL is meeting the company's goals for cost, quality and timely delivery. I also work closely with the 3PL on mutually-beneficial business improvement projects. Finally, I am responsible for revenue reporting within the division. I inform our financial partners within the company of when deliveries are complete and revenue can be officially recognized. In this capacity, I assist the division with meeting revenue goals by managing when products deliver.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I would rate my satisfaction as a 10. My job is a well-balanced mix of routine tasks and complex problem solving. Each day has routine aspects, such as regulatory compliance paperwork and shipment tracking, but every day also has unique problems to solve. I frequently have to resolve unpredictable problems that arise during deliveries and meet ever-changing customer demands on short notice. I have to be able to work with sales representatives, customer service agents and distribution center managers to find solutions to some very, very unique problems. When I am not doing this, I am always looking for ways to reduce our company's logistics expenses. This requires a combination of creativity and statistical data analysis that I find deeply satisfying.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: I wouldn't call logistics "a calling," but I am very comfortable where I am at professionally. I could never do a boring, repetitive job- and logistics has not disappointed! Most importantly, logistics is an incredibly broad field. If I ever feel bored with this position, there are many other opportunities within the logistics field that could fulfill my professional goals.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: I work in the medical device industry, which has many unique logistical requirements. Many logistics jobs revolve around standard operating procedures and generating revenue through logistics services. My job is more about meeting individual customer demands in the delivery of complex, delicate, made-to-order products.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I started my career as an officer in the US Army. I was recruited by an agency that specializes in professional placement for military veterans. I was very skeptical about taking a civilian job after getting out of the military, but if I could have done it differently, I would have made the transition sooner.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: I am lucky in the fact that I have not (knock on wood) had any hard lessons to learn in this job.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: The most important lesson that I have learned is that being a "people person" is simply not optional. All of my success has been directly related to the ability to effectively communicate with the people around me. Much of this has revolved around empathy. When I have understood a person's self interests, I have been most able to come up with ideas that benefit everyone. This has led to virtually all of my professional victories.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: An angry customer refused to take a delivery from our preferred parcel carrier. When I inquired why he would not accept the delivery (simply to avoid selecting another carrier with the same problem) he very flatly stated that the carrier's local driver had been sleeping with his wife. Needless to say, it made for very interesting notes within both the written complaints and and the customer's delivery profile on file with customer service.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I go to work because I have a great team and they count on me to do my job. I have felt most proud when my employees go out of their way to do a great job for the exact same reason. We all feel great when we get an email from a customer or sales rep complimenting how smooth a major delivery went. It makes it feel worthwhile to provide a high level of service.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: The greatest challenge I face comes from having to bend over backwards because another section of the company did not do their job. If anyone else is late, logistics has to rush in and save the day to get the order to the customer on time. I have never wanted to quit, but this is the most frustrating part of the job.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: While the job carries a lot of responsibilities, the workload is managed very carefully in my business to avoid burning anyone out. I firmly believe that people do their best work when they are well-rested, well led, and able to enjoy the things and people that they love when they are off work. I maintain a good work life balance by getting the most out of the 40 hours that I am supposed to work, so that I don't have to put in any more.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: For a person at my level, the salary is anywhere from $65-85k per year. I feel as though my compensation is adequate and affords me the lifestyle that I want.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: I get (and use) 15 days of paid vacation a year. Taking vacation is encouraged at my company.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: The preferred education is a Bachelor's in Integrated Supply chain Management (ISM) or a related business field. Lean Six Sigma or Certified Supply Chain Professional training is highly desired.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: I would tell them that to be a logistics professional to be comfortable solving problems, analyzing data and talking to a wide variety of people. If none of these things appeal to you- stay out!

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: In five years, I would like to be overseeing global supply chain implementation. This is not only a growing part of the industry, but an exciting one as well.