In 2019, more than 11 billion tons of cargo were shipped internationally, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and the dollar value of global trade that same year was approximately $19 trillion (U.S.).
The logistics required in the transshipment of products by sea, air, rail and truck are enormous, and the efficiency of the multitude of supply chains is equally as vital. Developing the logistical programs and building supply chain models require people with in-depth training in these sectors of cargo movement.
Patrick Bohan has been involved in supply management and logistics for several years. The director of Business Development with the Halifax Port Authority in Nova Scotia, Canada, Bohan says he would highly recommend a career path in these specific sectors.
He said his work in the area of supply chains has been “fascinating” and states that it is the supply chains that “make the world go around every day.”
Approximately 80% of global trade moves by ship and “even through the global pandemic, these supply chains had to keep functioning and were more important than ever,” Bohan stressed.
He said that, thankfully, with the necessary technology, “we had remote work capabilities and we had the devices we could get the work done from just about anywhere and that was important to keep lot of things going.”
After earning a business degree from Western University in London, Ontario, Bohan’s “first employee experience was in and around transportation,” he says. I knew how to use Excel (Microsoft) and spreadsheets plus other software programs.”
With this background, he could see value in his training and felt “maybe I could work in this industry for the long term.” Bohan saw an opportunity in the transportation field. “To be quite honest,” trade globally was growing and getting more sophisticated in terms of overseas trade, as both inbound and outbound supply chains were being “connected around the world,” he said.
He started working in transportation in the 1990s and as his experience began to develop, he wanted to get more into logistics and supply chain management. So, he felt the best way for him to accomplish that was to become a Certified Logistics Professional (CCLP) through the Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation (CITT).
Bohan worked on correspondence courses at night and during weekends and studied “basically all different modes of transportation and warehousing and distribution topics. When I completed the courses and had five years of full-time work experience, I qualified for the designation and every year there is some upkeep required.
“That was my first specific training in this field and it has served me well, to move up the learning curve in an efficient way and to get some clues about where the world is going in that industry,” he said.
Although his career was moving forward, Bohan said the shipping industry and his specific areas of supply chain and logistics are always evolving and changing and a mid-career refresher was important in his line of work.
“I had been out of school for about 10 years and working and by going back and doing my MBA [Master of Business Administration in International Business at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax], I had freshened up on the changes that had taken place in the world.”
The MBA program proved invaluable to Bohan because it had “an international project, too, which I was able to complete using work-related concepts.” He said the research project was related to his work at the port and involved some trade with China and Vietnam. “It was timely because in 2005,” when Bohan was doing his MBA, China and Vietnam “were coming into their own and the port had a lot of interest with what was going on in that part of the world with Asian trade.”
He looked at the Asian market from the perspective of how this industry would change some of the trade patterns as well as logistics and supply chain habits.
Bohan, who was involved in the early stages of building Asian trade through Halifax, actually went to China and Vietnam for two weeks as part of his MBA project.
“Southeast Asia seemed to be where the action was and the MBA project certainly helped,” he said. It was his first trip to those countries and it provided him with “good, direct connections” with the work he was doing at the port.
In a further comment on a refresher program for mid-career professionals, Bohan also suggested “some kind of specialized certification in your field.” He said an MBA or a certification program would provide “the best path to discover things that may have changed from early career to mid-career.”
With the shipping industry and supply chains constantly evolving, updating in mid-career is also important in dealing with new technology and data streams, things which increase efficiency of supply chains, said Bohan. Early in his career, he had some ideas of where the world was headed based on training and technology and how it could be adapted to make supply chains more efficient.
Looking into the future now, Bohan said there are discussions about artificial intelligence and other technologies, which seem to be moving to the next level where the machines might actually learn logistics and supply-chain models and update them.
So, he stressed, “I think it is very important for people in mid-career to touch base with the technology, get comfortable with it and find out what it can do so they don’t feel the world is passing them by.”
And in the shipping industry in particular, with the constant introduction of larger container ships, improved technology is vital with changing supply chains and logistics in handling cargo.
“Without technology, it would be impossible to imagine if you had a 24,000 TEU ship and had to keep track of every single container plus the speed of planning, the arrivals, getting them unloaded to rail or truck and the transshipment to many locations,” Bohan says. “Without technology, can you imagine the volume of paper?”
In his work at the Port of Halifax, Bohan has occasionally been invited to speak to high school students about the port, his role there and how things get from one side of the world to the provincial capital of Nova Scotia.
He believes that speaking to these students—or even providing business programs on supply chains and logistics as part of a curriculum—would be beneficial “because so many jobs and careers are somewhat related to supply chain.” Having their young eyes opened to the field early, Bohan added, may be advantageous compared to having to make last-minute decisions later in life.
WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR
People looking to the transportation industry for a career with a focus on logistics and supply-chain management should know that many employers are looking for specific things from new recruits.
Take enVista, for example. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, the global software, consulting and managed services provider was founded by supply chain and technology experts in response to market demand for skilled consulting services.
“In terms of training for labor-management consulting roles, we do have a multi-phase training approach that consists of on-the-job training, introductory classroom training and specific vendor application training, i.e. Blue Yonder, Korber, etc.,” says enVista Vice President Tom Stretar.
“In addition, for warehouse management, labor management, and transportation consulting roles, the common college degrees we keep an eye out for include, Supply Chain Management (BA/BS or MBA) and Industrial Engineering or equivalent type engineering degrees, like Mechanical Engineering (BS), Computer Science Engineering (BA/BS) and Data/Business Analytics (BA/BS).”
First published by Reuters