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Maritime Logistics Community News : April 2014
22 MARITIME LOGISTICS COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER 2014 OPERATIONS MANAGER -- BULK HAULAGE MOUNTAIN INDUSTRIES PTY LTD CAPT STEVE O'KEEFE, RANR "So, what do you know about trucks?" It is an obvious question that any prospective employee should expect to be asked when being interviewed for a job with a transport and logistics company, so what happens when your response to this questions is: "I know a lot about logistics but I have very limited experience with trucks"? After almost twelve months working in the Transport and Logistics industry, I thought it would be worthwhile highlighting what I've learnt during my transition from Defence in order to assist those contemplating a similar move or inspire those employers considering employing a Navy Logistician. There have been many Navy Logisticians who have made the transition to the transport and logistics industry in the past and my story hopefully gives credence to our employability beyond Navy. After a 29 year career as a Maritime Logistics Officer, I made the change to the private sector in October 2012 and joined a Newcastle-based logistics company. Reality really hit home two months into the job when I had my first "How the heck did I possibly get here moment?" of my new career -- I was standing in the middle of a paddock at 9pm in Gatton, Queensland watching sweet corn being harvested before being transported to Bathurst in NSW, forty tonnes per truck. As the Operations Manager -- Bulk Haulage at Mountain Industries, my team was responsible for ensuring that all the transport was coordinated to get the fresh produce from farm to factory without incident or delay. Six months earlier, I was enjoying my fourth year of a posting to the ADF Warfare Centre located at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle. Unfortunately, there were no other jobs for Navy Captains in the Newcastle area so I knew that the writing was on the wall for a move to Canberra at the end of my posting in December 2012. With my wife and primary- school aged daughter happily ensconced in Newcastle, I knew that I would be commuting between Newcastle and Canberra during my next posting. A career decision had to be made. In April 2012, I attended a CILTA dinner in Newcastle and I mentioned in passing to a couple of people that I was reviewing my career options and it could mean a move to the private sector at the end of the year. As fate would have it, there were a number of the Executive from Mountain Industries at the dinner and by the end of the evening I had been approached to submit my resume for a management vacancy in the company's bulk transport division. Mountain Industries is a diverse, dynamic, and rapidly growing transport and logistics company. With around 200 full time staff and a fleet of over 50 trucks, the company's area of transport operations currently extends from South Australia to Far North Queensland; in support of commercial, industrial and rural customers. The company has over thirty years of experience in bulk haulage, intermodal services, storage and warehousing, port services as well as site and value added services. As the Operations Manager -- Bulk Haulage, I report to the General Manager NSW Transport and my small team of six staff coordinate the movement of over 300,000 tonnes of bulk products each year -- that's about 10,000 truck movements. We manage the transportation of a diverse range of products, including: fertiliser, carbon products, fresh produce, salt, grain, waste products, general freight, grinding products for mines and quarry products. As a value adding service, my team also operates a grain storage facility in Western Sydney, storing 23,000 tonnes of dried corn for starch production. The application and interview process differed markedly from my experience with Public Service recruiting. The formal interview with a selection panel was replaced with a number of social encounters with different groups of the Mountain Industries' Executive: drinks with the General Managers NSW Transport and Human Resources, coffee with the Chairman, dinner with the CEO and COO, and finally breakfast with my prospective boss. The Mountain Industries' Executives were concerned about fit -- would I fit the company culture and would the company culture fit me? A significant concern was how I could cope comfortably with the transition from being a senior ADF officer in command of a unit to a middle manager in an entirely different industry. They also wanted to make sure that I had the right motivation for leaving Defence and joining the company at the middle management level. When the topic of salary came up, the CEO indicated that my starting salary would be discounted due to a lack of specific transport industry experience, but would have potential to grow as my work value increased. While the interview process may at first glance seem to be a bit excessive, it actually gave both the company and me the opportunity to evaluate each other to discover if we could mutually benefit each other well into the future. I have to hand it to the Executive for investing the time to make sure that the right decisions were being made on both sides. The one question that I wasn't able to answer comfortably was "What do you think you are worth?". I wasn't prepared for this question so I responded with my current Defence salary. My induction really started before I officially joined the company. Six weeks prior to my official start, my boss-to-be invited all his transport staff to an informal CILTA networking event -- here was an opportunity to meet my future staff and work colleagues and we were able to size each other up. This was the opportunity to garner first impressions and I think it was probably the most important contributor to the positive reception I received when I started on day one. When I commenced work, part of my employment contract was a six month probation period, inside which I could part company with Mountain Industries and vice versa. Continued next page ...