Third Party is the Perfect Place for Logistics Professionals


There has been much discussion on what Logistics is and the emerging role and recognition of the importance of Logistics professionals within organizations. In fact a recent post of mine even asserted that ‘Logistics is the New Black!’

Highlighting this point, the Logistics profession continues to grow rapidly and is projected to grow 22% by 2022 (27,600 jobs) a rate much faster than the average of all occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

My premise here is that the most desirable future role for these individuals is not working within actual retail and manufacturing organizations proper, but as key players in Third Party Logistics (3PL) provider companies where their interest and expertise are perfectly aligned with the core business of their employer.

Here is not the place to detail the potential hard benefits of third party logistics, but in a nutshell, they can be lower costs, reduced assets, continuous improvement, stability, flexibility of space, labor and network, expanded expertise, and enhanced integration and collaboration savings opportunities.

There are many reasons for this belief, but the major one is that if a Logistics practitioner is worth his salt, from the first day in the role he or she begins working themselves out of a job. I mean this both literally and figuratively. In the literal sense, the complete Logistics Professional begins by gathering all the pertinent information on the organization, ie: volumes, modes, costs, company needs and develop an understanding of the corporate business strategy for alignment purposes. Then the strategizing, modelling and optimization process begins and once complete, it is time for action.

In mid to large size organizations action represents the development of both senior management and peer support as well as the team required to complete the change process. Obviously other resources and IT systems required to complete the process must be specified and put into place, and then the leadership skills of the Logistics Professional are the final ingredients to make it happen.

After these change initiatives then result in the attainment of a ‘flashpoint’ where dramatic improvements are seen relative to expense/capital/D.C. space reductions and an increase of value added services and true supply chain activities.

Once the process is completed or well on the way to completion, the Logistics Professional then encounters only opportunities for incremental change and relatively minor benefits.

The challenge has been met, achieved, and is then followed by a short period of recognition. Recognition by the company of the results and effort, but also recognition that maybe the need for such a high level functioning expert and team is no longer required on a day to day basis. In fact any Logistics Professional with an active mind requiring challenge and not satisfied to simply ‘fill’ an office chair has already realized this on their own, and is taking the relevant career planning steps.

Traditionally this meant moving to an equivalent or more senior position in another, hopefully, larger organization and then resuming the climb. These days the probability of all of these factors being aligned at the time you need to make this job move is something akin to a rare planetary alignment, or winning the lottery and sometimes results in the individual compromising with their career aspirations at least temporarily.

Our belief is that it is preferable to make the next career step a more strategic and of perhaps a career long duration, and with this in mind moving to a senior role in a relevant third party Logistics provider should be seriously considered.

One final note on the benefits of such a move to a Third Party company is the additional opportunity for exposure to a variety of industry experiences, as most relevant third parties work in a number of fields, automotive, manufacturers, retailers, grocery, general merchandise, electronics and health and beauty aids.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with this analysis and belief, there is an obvious parallel to the new business direction of companies to determine and pursue their core business. Our point of view is that individual logisticians should perhaps do the same by taking a role in a firm whose core business is logistics, better positioning them to grow their career within the more relevant context of a logistics focussed firm.

Jeff Ashcroft

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