Moving raw materials, equipment, fast moving consumer goods and other items from one place to another is a tricky process. Supply chain managers may look after the top-level decisions relating to the supply chain, but people are also needed to manage the nitty-gritty side of the actual physical distribution. This is where logistics and distribution managers come into play!
These guys focus their efforts on coordinating inventory management, warehousing and haulage, by making strategic decisions, liaising with all relevant parties, tracking deliveries and making sure the right stuff gets to the right place, at the right time and in the right quantity.
Some logistics and distribution managers work for manufacturing companies, retailers or resellers, while many others work for organisations which focus exclusively on third party logistics (3PL), such as FedEx, DHL, UPS and Gist.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be planning, coordinating and managing the transportation and storage of goods, making sure that everything is carried out in a timely, high-quality and cost-effective manner. Part of your role will also involve making sure all logistics and distribution activities adhere with environmental legislation, as well as complying with health and safety requirements.
Furthermore, you’ll be tasked with monitoring the efficiency and effectiveness of procedures in various phases of the supply chain, assessing the data you have collected and implementing process improvements to address any complications or faults.
In addition to your organisational duties, you’ll also have responsibility for directly managing teams of personnel and ensuring their training and development is sufficient to enhance productivity.
As you gain more experience, you may also play an integral role in policy development and strategic decision-making to help distribution operations meet business objectives.
Salary & benefits
Trainee logistics and distribution managers can earn annual salaries ranging between £17,000 and £30,000, while experienced managers can earn around £30,000 to £50,000 per annum. Senior managers can earn up to £125,000 a year. If you perform particularly well, you might also be rewarded with annual bonus payments.
On a daily basis, you’re likely to work around 10-14 hours, with weekend work also being a common occurrence. Most 3PL companies operate on a 24/7 basis and have global operations. Consequently, shift work may be part of your regular schedule.
Understandably, logistics and distribution managers may need to travel on a daily basis in order to meet suppliers and monitor operations closely. If you work for an international organisation, you may even be required to travel abroad from time to time.
A degree is not strictly essential for entry into this profession, although the majority of employers will prefer candidates with an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. To really boost your chances of finding employment, you should consider studying a degree such as transport management, logistics management, economics, modern languages, business studies, computer science or geography.
Gaining relevant work experience in warehouse management or delivery services will give you a great insight into the industry and may look excellent on your CV.
Training & progression
Many employers offer graduate trainees the opportunity to undertake a structured training and development programme, which is likely to involve carrying out various rotational placements in different areas of the business and in-house training sessions.
Some employers may even sponsor you to complete professional qualifications offered by organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), the Institute of Operations Management (IOM) and the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT).
Career progression is dependent on academic and professional qualifications, experience and performance in relation to targeted objectives. As you progress and move into senior positions, you may take on more duties that revolve around business development, budget control and strategic decision making.