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01

MAY

2018

Warehouse Management - Bobbi Ryan from Convergence Partners explains why it's an underrated career path...

Bobbi Ryan

The trend towards more manufacturing moving offshore is bringing a growth in online commerce and increased importing into New Zealand. That raises the importance of warehousing here.

Warehouse management is a managerial career path that often goes unnoticed and unheralded, but it can offer an attractive pathway into higher executive roles, and deserves more attention from both job seekers and employers.

What is the issue around careers in warehouse management?
As recruitment consultants we really struggle to find good candidates to fill warehouse management roles. It isn’t a common career pathway step, and many warehouse managers land in the role by accident rather than design.

How do warehouse managers usually train for the role?
Many successful warehouse managers fall into warehousing from other functions, so it’s often a case of learning on the job. If the person has transferable skills in people leadership, process flow management and understanding continuous improvement, they can generally make the move reasonably easily. There are some specialist training options with tertiary education providers. One of the better courses is the new CLTD Certified in Logistics, Transport and Distribution course offered through NZPICS (Association for Operations & Supply Chain Professionals) - http://www.nzpics.org.nz/courses/cltd-certificatio...

What’s the appeal of roles in warehouse management?
While it may not have the glamour of many other management roles, warehouse management is rewarding in many ways - apart from the fact that you can earn a six-figure salary at large sites or in multiple-site organisations. It offers excellent opportunities to develop leadership skills as you might have up to a few hundred in the team, it’s a function that has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, and one where you can initiate improvements and achieve measurable black-and-white results. You can get excellent personal growth, be exposed to exciting new technological developments, and you have the opportunity to really shine in an organisation.

What sort of person does a warehouse management role suit?
It suits someone interested in logistics and supply chain operations who wants to grow their leadership skills, aspires to higher positions, and has a zeal for solving problems and making improvements. If you’re aspiring to be a leader, you’ll get experience in warehouse management much earlier than you might in other supply chain roles, such as planning.

What could employers do to improve their warehouse management?
Give it the developmental status it deserves. Employers could direct some of their talented young employees - the future leaders - into warehouse management, and bring in more specialised warehouse management training.

Advice for young people contemplating a management career in this area?
Give it a look - for all the reasons above. You will learn a lot more quickly about management, and develop management skills that will take you a long way.

What does the future hold for warehouse management and managers, given a trend in New Zealand towards more offshore manufacturing, greater automation and the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace?
We’re seeing a couple of significant trends. One is a move to more third-party logistics (3PL) where warehousing is being outsourced to a third party, or even 4PL where the provider does more than just supply chain work. Both 3PL and 4PL have a lot more training happening; where it’s missing is in organisations that do their own warehousing.

The trend towards more manufacturing moving offshore is bringing a growth in online commerce and increased importing into New Zealand. That raises the importance of warehousing here. Warehousing and distribution becomes more of a core competency, offering opportunities for greater efficiencies and cost savings - and thus greater competitive advantage.

Which is why employers should be planning and training to get the highest level of expertise in the roles they can. More automation and even AI emerging in this area is inevitable, but there’s still going to be a need for strong management and leadership.

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