by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Maritime Logistics Community News : April 2014
23 MARITIME LOGISTICS COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER 2014 Switching from ships to trucks meant a whole new vocabulary, new legislation and a unique culture in which to immerse myself -- it was exhilarating and exhausting. Whilst I would describe my transition into my new industry as particularly smooth, there were still a number of significant challenges that were encountered and overcome along the way. These include: • like most new postings, it was challenging to learn the ropes from the very lowest level whilst developing rapport with staff and stakeholders so that I could ease into the management role and establish my credibility; • the private sector is about profit so I quickly became aware that every decision has a real impact on the bottom line; • after nearly three decades developing my professional expertise, it takes a certain amount of humility to become a student with relatively low knowledge and experience bases; and • it takes willpower to resist the temptation to apply a military style solution to an industry problem. On the upside, there have also been a number of opportunities that presented themselves. These include: • there are many avenues to formally and informally learn (especially online) -- but first you must accept that you have a lot to learn; • without realising it, Defence logisticians have an inbuilt sensor for policy and process -- there are great opportunities to assist the private sector refine both; • your IT skills are something you take for granted -- but your Excel and PowerPoint skills will be warmly welcomed; • there are always opportunities for growth and progression if you actively seek them out; • industry organisations like CILTA and the Logistics Association of Australia (LAA) provide great opportunities to become further involved in the industry through seminars, site visits, courses and networking events; • time in Defence gives you a certain amount of audacity that you can use to your advantage -- maybe it is our "can do" attitude that lets us overcome any barriers to what we are trying to achieve; and • a different posting every couple of years makes you a master at picking up a new job quickly -- this will hold you in good stead if you consider your first job in the private sector as another posting. Although I had been a keen student of the Transport and Logistics industry and a member of a variety of professional institutions for many years, I've learned a number of helpful lessons during the course of my transition, by observation and experience, that are worth passing on. If you are contemplating joining the Transport and Logistics industry: • you gain greater benefit by networking with your peer's bosses -- networking with your peers may keep you informed about the industry but it is less likely to score you an interview; • actively pursue the opportunities offered by industry organisations like CILTA and LAA and enthusiastically participate in their education and mentoring programs -- such activities get you known in the industry; • work out what you're worth - there are various websites that will give you an indication of the figure you should be chasing -- understand that the going rate may be discounted due to your lack of specific knowledge or experience and the geographic area in which you are seeking to work; • you may have to take a pay cut until you have gained sufficient knowledge, experience and credibility -- again, this may depend on your chosen location; • be prepared to be a student again -- reignite your sense of curiosity and ask questions; • don't dwell on your Service background -- whilst it may be of occasional interest to your new work colleagues, it really matters little in your new environment -- it's not what you were, it's who you are now; and • if you are thinking of transitioning from Defence and are starting to put out feelers, it is beneficial to be able to specifically define the type of position for which you are looking -- in other words, a "lift" speech of 20 words or less [as an example: if someone asks what sort of position you are looking for, you need to have an answer ready to go - the first time I was asked, I mumbled something about "logistics", however, the next time I was ready and stated that I was looking for "a logistics management role, headquartered in Newcastle where I would be managing a small hands- on logistics team"]. On the other hand, if you are considering hiring a Defence logistician, I offer the following advice to support the transition process from an employer's perspective: • be concerned about fit, for both the company and the individual, to ensure that the applicant's values and aspirations are matched by the company's culture and expectations; • reap the dividend of investing the time to convince yourself that the individual's motivation is best placed; • consider a probation period where either party can walk away with their integrity intact; • consider a social get together with new staff prior to the employment commencement date -- it gives the individual motivation to start and eases the pressure on day one; and • expect a great asset that can add significant value to your organisation. Although Mountain Industries engaged an Operations Manager who had never driven a truck or managed a transport fleet, the company got a leader with a bent for robust policy and process, a willingness to listen and an ability to thoroughly research decisions. Mountain Industries was immediately able to leverage my planning skills, commitment, flexibility, and communication prowess. Moreover, I was a quick learner with a keen sense of curiosity and I was willing to accept both the decrease in salary and drop in management level to secure a place in the industry and commence my upwards climb. I am confident that my transition to the private sector has been a success from the perspectives of the Navy, Mountain Industries and myself. Although I successfully proved myself during my probation period, I understand that I have still a lot to learn about the workings of the Transport and Logistics industry -- especially trucks. Like many before me, I have demonstrated that my experience and training in the Navy have prepared me to successfully transition to the civil sector in the transport and logistics industry. About the Author Steve O'Keefe transferred to the Active Reserve in February 2013 after a 29 year career in the RAN. Prior to the transfer, he was the Director of ADF Warfare Centre and ADF Peace Operations Training Centre. As a Captain, he also performed the roles of Chief of Staff ADF Warfare Centre, Director Navy Professional Requirements (Engineering and Logistics) and completed the Defence and Strategic Studies Course at Weston Creek. He was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in the 2011 Australia Day Honours List.