Podcast

Episode 14: The value of strategic partnerships with Gareth Davies

Jul 27, 2022

Are you collaborating with the right carriers and freight forwarders to achieve operational excellence in your supply chain?

Tune into this week’s episode of Freight to the Point as Gareth Davies and Helena Wood discuss the importance of strategic partnerships with both carriers and freight forwarders, and relationships in the supply chain network.

This episode explores:

  • the value of transparency and communication
  • the importance of keeping an open mind to new partnerships with freight forwarders
  • how to assess whether a partnership is right for you

Gareth Davies
Gareth Davies is the Head of Global Logistics at Lenovo. In this role he is responsible for the transportation of over 120m devices globally across Lenovo’s portfolio. He also oversees global trade compliance, customs, procurement of services, sustainability, risk and loss and VMI operations across omni-channel solutions.

Resources

Helena Wood Welcome to Episode 14 of Freight to the Point, a podcast by Zencargo. I’m Helena Wood, and today I am joined by Gareth Davies, the head of global logistics at Lenovo. Gareth has been in the logistics space for 30 years and has spent the last 10 of them at Lenovo, focusing on supply chain optimization and management, as well as international logistics and operational management. Some of you might know Gareth. He spoke at our virtual conference, Navigate, a few months ago and offered his insight on navigating complexities in the supply chain. We love hearing from Gareth. He’s great at giving us really useful and actionable insight on how to actually optimize your supply chain. So, welcome Gareth. It’s lovely to have you back again.
Excellent. Well, thank you very much for inviting me, and it’s great to be back here and talking to you guys again.
Gareth Davies
Helena Wood Excellent. Let’s get freight to the point. Tell us Gareth, how did you get into the industry?
So, I joined, from college, a European transport company, but I actually joined in the finance department, so that’s why I was assistant accountant, or something like that. And I worked in there for a period of time. And then the company I was working with was acquired and I had an opportunity to relocate as part of the acquisition, but also take a slightly different job and move into kind of the operations team, which really appealed to me, because it gave me an opportunity to actually become part of the success, or the failures, of the operations, as opposed to just reporting and recording the numbers. So, that’s basically how I got started.
Gareth Davies
Helena Wood Amazing. What an interesting route. And do you ever miss those finance days?
Well, throughout every role that I’ve had, I’ve had a very, very heavy financial responsibility. So, I’ve either been looking after initially trade routes and trailer maintenance costs, trailer fill rates, and the operating costs. And then as I’ve gone through my career and grown those responsibilities, I’ve always had the responsibilities for the financial aspect of anything that I’ve done. So, they’ve never left me behind. And I think, if anything, spending a little bit of time and understanding how accounts and finance works, as opposed to just reporting numbers, is probably stood me in good stead.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood I can imagine it also being a very strong foundation to build on. And obviously, you have the opportunity to move to logistics. And I love the way you talk around going from sort of working on the business to working in the business and really driving those business outcomes. And as you said, they can be very positive business outcomes that are influenced by the supply chain, or sometimes challenging business outcomes. But I suppose what’s made you stay. It’s been a long time that you’ve been working in the logistics space. You’ve got such a vast experience. What keeps you getting up in the morning?
I think you’ve hit on probably, or touched probably on two of the key points. I think logistics, as maybe many aspects of supply chain, but I think logistics is certainly something that you thrive in or you don’t, and you learn it pretty quickly, whether you’re going to thrive or whether you’re not. So, I think people join it, and they stay if they enjoy it, or they get out pretty quickly. So, most of the people that I interact with have actually been in logistics for a long time, and if not the duration of their working lives. And I think one of the real key aspects that I enjoy is that diversity. And I’ve been very fortunate in my life to work in startups, in small companies, in huge organizations, and I’ve been able to run customs, VMI, sort of domestic container haulage, domestic transport, warehouses, distribution, international ocean freight, international air freight, as well as end of supply chain solutions, project management.

So, I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside some great people, but in such a constantly changing environment. I find it just really, really interesting. It is one of those industries where you have no idea what tomorrow will bring and it certainly keeps you keeps you on your toes.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood It’s great, even after such a long career, that you still feel that tomorrow can be a surprise. Hopefully you’ve got some learnings in the bank that help you deal with those challenges more and more. It’s really interesting what you say, Gareth, around logistics, being an industry that people either sort of thrive in or leave quickly. Can you tell us a bit more about that? And for those who stay the course and really kind of have what it takes, I suppose, for this space, what do you think the shared characteristics are?
That’s a really great question, and I don’t think that we spend enough time as an industry, and certainly even within our companies, on really, truly understanding that. I think it’s fair to say, across all aspects of logistics, for sure, and certainly many aspects of supply chain, we are doers. So, we roll our sleeves up, and we get involved, and we get things done. And I think that takes a certain level of mentality. You’ve got to be self-sufficient. You’ve got to be able to work as part of a team. You’ve got to be able to take the rough with the smooth and take each of those with the same measure of acceptance. You’ve got to be prepared to kind of put that extra mile in and do that legwork. And I think that there are characteristics and traits that everybody that I meet kind of has.

Everybody genuinely turns up wanting to do the absolute best that they possibly can for their customers, for their business, for their organizations. But I think it’s one of those industries where you have to have that mentality. You have to have that desire. Otherwise, you will start struggling. But I do think that there’s going to be many other characteristics, and it would be a fascinating study to really look at why… I think you’re onto something here, Helena. It’d be great to understand why do people kind of take to it, and why do some people not take to it? And what are the myriad of common characteristics in that?

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood

I think it would be a very interesting study. I was smiling as you spoke there, because you mentioned going the extra mile. And for us at Zencargo, that’s part of our internal language. We have a quarterly internal sort of employee reward scheme, really where we all nominate our colleagues who we feel consistently go the extra mile. And we then follow a shortlisting process where someone can then win a prize. And I think you’re totally right. It is around being very focused on delivering outcomes, either for your business or your customer’s business, depending on the way in which you’re looking at things. And I think there’s something around being very personally motivated to see an outcome, because sometimes, from what we hear about a lot of the people we speak to on this podcast, even though the supply chain is such a complex network of many people, tools, systems, so much information, sometimes you can be on your own in that network, just trying to succeed your little piece of the chain.

So, being driven to do that is interesting. Now, I know something that is close to your heart, Gareth, is all around collaboration and working together to drive operational efficiency within the supply chain. And I’d love to hear from you, because it’s such a complex network of people, how you think that best happens. So, how does collaboration drive that operational efficiency that matters so much?

I think, again, no quick answer, so indulge me a minute. I think when you’re talking internally, you’re talking about teamwork, you’re talking across your own internal organization. Then I think it’s key that you’ve got a simple, straightforward objective, statement, vision statement, mission statement. You’ve got a very clear, understandable translatable strategy. And it’s great for someone like me to sit here within Lenovo and take our corporate strategy and change it into a logistic strategy, or add to it and embellish it for what we want to do. But I really need all of my colleagues, my teams, my peers in logistics to kind of understand it. And they’re the guys that will have to translate some of these into physical action. So, everybody’s got to be on the same page and understand it. So, it needs to be direct, simple, and you need to resonate across a multitude of teams.

I think the second thing, and you touched on it a moment ago in terms of reward, everybody’s really got to be applauded for collective achievement. And that’s something that not a lot of organizations are great at. And I’m not going to pretend that necessarily Lenovo’s perfect in every direction, but certainly within logistics, we try to recognize everything as being a team achievement, because we’ve got people at the sharp end on operations, delivering customer shipments, but we’ve got people who are working behind the scenes in the trade compliance or the freight payment and freight audit, and everybody plays their role in making the whole thing work. So, I think internally simple, easily understood strategies, clear messages, everybody on the same path, everybody aligned to the same goals, and everybody kind of recognized for, for those achievements is important. Externally, I think you then need to do the same.

We’ve got to have, and we work very hard, certainly with our strategic carriers, to make sure that everybody also understands the objectives and the goals. And sometimes, that’s easier said than done. So, I spend a lot of time with our carriers, reminding them that I’m not the customer. My customers are the customers. I am simply the person that pays the bill. So, they got to be aligned on what my customers need and how they and Lenovo will measure success and failure, which is often very, very different from a green tick box on a KPI scorecard. So, we work hard to make sure that our suppliers have complete visibility to our pain. They have complete visibility to our objectives. They understand how we are going to measure ourselves and how our customers measure us. And they have… We give them transparency to all of the things that are likely to cause them problems, so that they can also be a part of driving that solution.

So, we try and bring the two things together, largely through open communication and transparency, but we do try and make sure that it’s simple, straightforward, and every single person understands and has the same objectives..

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood Such an interesting answer, and so many things I want to pick out of that, Gareth. So, let’s try and dive back in. Let’s start with that sort of internal function. And you really had two key things here. One was around making sure you’ve got that really clear strategy and message that everyone understands. And then two, you have that working as a team and actually celebrating and winning as a team. I’m imagining there might be people listening to today’s podcast who are shippers and businesses. Maybe they’re not quite the same size as Lenovo. They could be totally different businesses, but they might be thinking, “Well, I know my strategy. How do I get it across to every single person in that team?” And you were talking about that kind of clear, simple message. In practical terms, how would you recommend that someone who might be head of logistics in another organization takes that company’s strategy, and then brings it to their whole team in a way that they can rally around it?
Yeah, so I think that for us, Lenovo has a corporate strategy, and then the global supply chain team, for which I then represent logistics as a member of that supply chain team has a strategy. So, you’re kind of taking those two things and then distilling into what does it mean for us? And so our strategy is very simple. We have an SDP strategy, the three pillars. That’s all we do. And everything comes under S for smart, D for digital, P for personal. And smart is how do we do things better? How do we make them more efficient? Digital is anything technology linked, new technologies, emerging technologies, or better use of existing technologies. And personal has two aspects to it, one, personalized services for the customer, but also our team. How do we then focus on our team in terms of talent, training, and programs?

So, we make sure that, one way or the other, every single thing that we are doing fits into one of those pillars. And then we just need to kind of make sure that everybody understands smart, digital, and person. And people can soon start looking and understanding the kind of work streams and initiatives that would fit into each one of those categories. The other thing that we do is, after we’ve launched the new financial year, as we just did on April, the first, is we do a global internal kickoff per region, and also a supplier’s conference per region, where we have the key initiatives that feed into that cascaded out to our whole internal workforce and our supplier base. And then we follow that up with town halls and all hands meetings with the team, where they get to ask questions, clarify anything.

And then with the strategic partners, we follow it up with an executive review, where they feed back to us areas that they believe they can assist with, or they can want to understand a little bit more deeply, and initiatives that perhaps we can work on together over the coming 12, 18, 24 months to achieve some of these initiatives. So, we spend a lot of time cascading this out, working on it, making sure people understand.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood But it’s important, right? And that makes so much sense. And I think listening to you talking about that, it comes back to tenants, which are… I’m a marketer at heart, but there are tenants in what you’re talking about, which are true to the way I work, which is simplicity, repetition, and feedback.

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood And that cycle really helps, I think, any message land and make sure it actually sticks.

So, you then spoke about the external collaboration and how to work with stakeholders and partners, and you spoke about your partnership with carriers or other strategic partners and your sort of view of sharing your objectives, making sure you’re really clear about that, and then creating transparency and shared pain. And I imagine there may be some partners who are highly receptive to working in that way, and others where, I’m going to make an assumption here, it might not have been so easy or might not be so easy. So, can you tell me a little bit more about how you choose and sort of work with strategic partners to make sure that you’re able to build the collaboration that you need?

So, yeah, the first thing that we did is kind of look at making sure that we’ve got some crossover and some redundancy. So, we took strategic partners and really look to kind of core mode transport. And we would look at road, we would look at air, ocean, and then also parcels. And so then we started looking at well, who had some carryover so that we had some level of potential redundancy. And then we could look at those and think, okay, who are best in class, and start taking this message to them. Now, you’re right. We get different types of response, and we also find that we get different types of response as we go through the engagement. So, it’s not consistent. You can ever close your eyes and just assume somebody’s always going to get something and the strength of the support is always going to be the same.

I would say, generally, you identify through that process who are definitely here for the journey and the duration. And my view has always been that it’s a far more effective use of all of our time to spend that making sure people who are engaged with our business, understand our business. Then it is simply to bring new parties in, or constantly RFQ, and constantly chase one aspect. Maybe it’s cost or something else. So, we have that process. We have things like global scorecards, so that measures every single touch. And it measures whether our freight payment team are getting invoices on time, or our EDI messages are timely, or our risk and loss guys are happy with the response they get. So, it measures absolutes, but it also measures kind of responses, feelings, and attitude.

So, that’s a pretty powerful tool, with the end to end performance only making up a percentage of the score. But ultimately, we also have a mechanism where, through what we call short form contracts, we trial somebody new. We’ll trial something different. If people have got an opportunity or have something to present to us, we’ll give them an opportunity to come in and deliver on that for a fixed period of time, but they’ve got to be able to raise the bar. They’ve got to be able to show us something new, something advanced, quicker, more efficient ways of doing things. And of course, we will spend a lot of time engaging through monthly reviews, quarterly reviews with our carrier base to make sure that they understand where they are exciting us, where they are impressing us, where they are excelling, and also those areas where they’re not.

But we built up a very honest two-way communication process so that if somebody isn’t delivering what we need, then we have a mechanism in place to understand, well, is that us? And are we doing something that makes this very challenging or difficult? Or is it something within their organization? And if so, can it be addressed, and can it be fixed, wherever it sits? So, it is trial and error. We do have a couple of carriers, for sure, that have been around many, many years with us, but we are constantly looking at that and bringing new companies to the table, in some way, shape or form, to understand if they’ve got the ability to give us something new.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood Which is really interesting to hear. And I think, Gareth, this is possibly where… And I know we at Zencargo really enjoy working with you, and I think we have a real alignment of our morals and our beliefs actually around this, which is, if I could summarize everything you’ve just said in kind of a few words, which will totally undervalue what you said, but you take partnerships seriously. And that’s something that, I know when we work with our customers, we try to do, because we believe that, first of all, supply chain done right can have a huge impact on your overall business outcomes. And also, that can only come built on the foundation of a strong partnership that uses accountability, good data and transparency, honest feedback, honest and regular feedback conversations, but all focused towards, or under the umbrella of a clear objective goal that you’re working towards.
Correct.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood And so many of those things build up to hitting the milestones that you want to, or achieving what you want to. But I think something that’s interesting in what you say is, one of the first things you spoke about was being in for the journey with partners, and not regularly tendering to find somebody else or constantly shopping around. Now, I can imagine in today’s market, there are many shippers who feel huge pressure, possibly from the boardroom, possibly because of the costs associated, to shop around. They’re constantly trying to find the best rate. They might be trying to find better space. What would your advice be to a shipper today who is possibly feeling that pressure, and therefore entering into possibly a high number of transactional relationships, rather than those sort of long term serious partnerships?
Yeah. I think it’s an easy trap to fall into. I would genuinely say right now, with restricted capacity still, certainly in air freight, it’s probably not feasible to operate without a hybrid. There is no way the same small group of company, if you are very strategic, are going to gain access to the same volume of capacity that you previously enjoyed at the same price. They’re physically not going to be able to do it. And yet, the transactional parties are maybe a little bit more difficult to deal with if you need some longevity, if you’ve got to be producing quarterly budgets to give to your business, but you’ve only got rates signed up to a week or a month. Then you’re giving yourself some exposure there that perhaps is a little bit difficult.

So, but I would say that right now, you need that hybrid. You need the ability to be able to push some cargos into the most competitive environment that you possibly can, and take advantage of situations that may exist. My view is you still need the bulk of the cargo to be set with long term partners. Now, that may be a wider number of long term partners, and we’ve certainly done a couple of those things. We’ve increased the pool of carriers that we would consider to be strategic. We took that decision right at the outset of the pandemic, not exponentially. We increased it by a couple of parties. Now, we have a mechanism where we can take advantage of things that will happen in the market. And it’s important for us as well, to understand, when we look at the market dynamics, not every one of those dynamics that you see reported applies to every single one of your partners.

So, you could find that there’s next to no space running between Shanghai and Amsterdam, but if one of your partners has, for whatever reason, seen a downturn in demand, maybe they’ve lost an account, or maybe that account has built up too much stock, that provides an opportunity that you’ve got to be in a position and have the relationships with that you can take advantage. But again, I think it comes down to… And you used the words before. It comes down to this level of respect and integrity and transparency. So, we’ll use these, but we will never pretend to accompany who is entering our business, because they have something that they can offer me this week. That is anything other than an opportunity to see how they, how they perform or how they get up. And of course, it can be a positive step into building a longer term relationship, but we’ll make sure that we will understand, you are offering this to us today because of these circumstances. Maybe we’re going to take it some of this today because of these circumstances.

But it’s a step in the right direction. It doesn’t automatically cement some sort of longer strategic partnership. And again, we do this openly. We’ll share with our incumbents, and they’ll share with us the capacity they can offer us, the price they can offer us, the service levels they can offer us, so that it becomes a little bit less emotive if we have to take those other decisions.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood Which is really interesting, because there’s always a balance. Isn’t there? Within business, within partnerships, but actually across almost all the work we do, where it’s the quantum, the quality. Isn’t it? So, you speak about the power of relationships within these partnerships. If you don’t have a good relationship, you’re not going to know there’s an opportunity to be able to try and take it or seize it. But without the quant, or the data or the transparency, and we can maybe talk about what that looks like, you can’t actually justify any of the decisions or know whether they worked anyway. So, when it comes to working with partners, when it comes to going into making an informed decision, we speak about transparency. Naturally, I’m coming from Zencargo. I’m going to want to leverage in a little bit of a moment to talk about visibility and data. But for you, what are the kind of minimum requirements in terms of that mutual transparency? What data do you need to be sharing? What information points are you insisting upon seeing?
So, if we are talking about potential new relationships, which I think is slightly different, then my view is always to try and bring a new party on and trial them, for a period of time, on a market that we have both agreed they can succeed at. So, I don’t take the view of bringing them in to our most difficult market with a view of, “Go prove yourself. And if you work, maybe we’ll talk.” It’s kind of, where do they feel comfortable that they can excel? My ultimate goal is to make sure that every one of our markets internally are delighted, every one of our customers are delighted, and I want the best people on the best market. So, I’m always willing to give potential new carriers an opportunity to work within an environment that they shine. And we agree what good looks like, and we’ll share with them, “This is what we believe good will look like. This is the kind of service level. This is the aggregated transit time. This is where we’re going to sit with any damage reporting and whatever.”

And we won’t even set them up to say no damage. We understand things happen. It’s a question of how you then follow it through what your mechanism is to investigate and report back on it, and make sure that it’s ring fenced and everybody understands it. Some we’ll try and give carriers an opportunity, you know, new partners, an opportunity to really shine. In terms of the data that we need, largely, we are still fixated on the same external milestones that many companies are. We’ve got the same kind of wheels up, wheels down, on board, delivered messages, whatever they may be, but we are working with companies now to understand a lot more of the data fees that they have that we don’t necessarily have.

So, elements, for example, around congestion at a particular airport, or what booking slots are our customers giving them, and does it cause them any problems, so that ultimately, we can pull all of this data together and actually start rooting our cargo to maybe arrive slightly differently, or put pressure on those customers to help us out with a slightly more convenient delivery window, or various things like that actually drive decisions on how do we route the cargo. So, we have a process in place now to gain a lot more data. What the business sees are kind of the basics, the wheels up the wheels down. Was it collected on time? Was it delivered on time? Did I get the PODs or the IODs? And that type of thing.

So, in terms of physical messages, we’re pretty simplistic. But around that, we have a lot of additional messages around the speed, the efficiency, the convenience, the sustainability, the CO2 metrics, the customer engagement. We have the MPS scores that we take internally from our customers, but we also fire into our internal units around the 3PLs. So, the three PLs get to see, in their QBR, their MPS scores, which is largely based upon feedback from internal stakeholders in Lenovo that just show whether people would or wouldn’t recommend them, and are and aren’t having a response problem. And it could be very different from their 99.9% on type performance. If people don’t like dealing with you, or they find you difficult or slow, that will come out of a kind of customer engagement feedback.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood Super interesting. I love listening to you guys, because it’s, so… Frankly, it’s really impressive to hear the maturity of your internal systems and processes, which I have no doubt have been honed and honed over many, many years to get to this point where you clearly have a very sophisticated, but efficient machine where you know how to review your partners. You clearly are managing that balance between the quantitative and the qualitative, just to that point that you made around MPS. You might be hitting your KPIs, but nobody wants to work with you, so there’s still a challenge. And I hope for many of our listeners today, hearing around how the point that you’ve got to is setting up your internal supply chain or thinking about the way that you work with partners, and even just the way you work and approach data, I’m sure there are many learning points and takeaways.

But, something we talk a lot about is Zencargo is that supply chain is not always easy. And even when things sound like the most incredibly well oiled machine, sometimes that machine might not be as well oiled as it appears. And we talk a lot about ship happens. Ship happens in supply chains, and we all have ship happens moments in our careers. I would like to hear yours. Gareth. Tell me about one of your ship happens moments.

Yeah, so my ship happens moment really dates back to the very start of my career, when I first made that a transition from financing to operations. And I’d been dealing with intra-European logistics for a while, and then I’ve branched out into kind of deep sea shipping, if you like. And I’ve been running in a department for not so long, for only a few weeks. And my understanding was that shipping was traded in US dollars, and I think many of your listeners would assume shipping was traded in the US dollars, but it wasn’t always the case, and it wasn’t always the case on every single market. And I remember taking a booking for some new products going down to Argentina. And this is a long, long time ago. And I’d agreed to purchase price with a steamship line, and I’d put a little bit on and sold it to my customer, only to find that I was buying in deutschmarks and selling in US dollars.

And for many people who were younger than me, effectively, it meant that I was selling this product at about half price. And of course I’d not been long in the role. And coming from a finance background, this was extremely embarrassing, but very concerning. Now, fortunately I was part of a team and certainly had a manager who was able to work with me, understood the situation, worked with me to limit the problem, worked with the customer to limit the problem who didn’t require us to fulfill the entire obligation of the contract. But the other impressive thing that I remember from that particular individual is kept it very, very low key, kept it almost invisible so that there wasn’t any embarrassment going around the office, even in a quiet manner. That was the other thing that resonated with me. I think he handled it really, really, really well. But that for me, was one of those moments where potentially, my career could have been cut short right at the beginning, because it was a huge, potentially huge sum of money that I was about to throw away.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood Thank you for sharing that. But actually, it’s really nice to hear about that experience of you working within a team that wanted to help you rid that challenge and to not let it be a career limiting or just a sort of personally embarrassing moment for you. And it’s going to lead me onto a question that we ask all of our guests, which is around the people they’ve worked with. I think something that’s so fantastic about this industry and about this space is that no matter how sophisticated or large it is, we are all very lucky and privileged to work with some great and very, very experienced individuals, many of whom we can thank or attribute our own successes to. So, is there anyone in your career that you’ve encountered, Gareth, that has had a significant impact or influence on you that you would like to thank or to call out?
Wow, there’s many. I’ve been fortunate to work with some real great people. I would say that certainly, Mick Jones, who I know Zencargo understand and work with very closely. He was my manager at Excel and the DHL. He and my current boss probably understand supply chain better than anybody else I’ve ever met. So, that’s a huge thing. There was another individual John Howlett. He was the first person at DHL, again, that just implicitly trusted me. And I’m somebody who responds to knowing that I’ve got the trust of my manager. So, he was the first person that just trusted me implicitly.

But I would say that I learned more from my team than I think I do from managers, because they’re the guys that are either going to shout at me, or implement something, or test something, or show me where I was right, or show me where I was wrong when I first maybe had some crazy idea. And they’re the people that really make things happen. And I’ve got a great team here at Lenovo, and two people. There’s Matt Rogers, who’s currently at ASOS, who I would thank for this. He was very forthright in his feedback. And also, Alan Stoddart, who’s at 3M. Those two guys, I worked with for many years through some very difficult scenarios, but they gave me some really, really great feedback that helped me amend, adapt, and change things.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood What a great list. Thank you so much for calling out so many people who’ve had an influence on your career, but I like the sentiment around your team really helping you still learn and still giving you feedback today, which is great to hear. Well, Gareth, I’ve got a question about the future, and then I want to move on to our quickfire question round. And my question around the future is, what would you like to see change? You’ve probably seen a huge amount of change in the industry over the last 30 years, but what is your vision for the future of supply chain?
So, I’m really excited and optimistic about the future, because I think that every single thing that we are talking about now, particularly in technology, AGVs, drones, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, we’re talking APIs now. Everything that we talk about is going to have a positive influence on our industry. Now, there’s going to be some hardships while we implement some of these things and get there, but I’m really optimistic about the industry. There’s probably two areas that I think we need to focus on slightly more than the rest. The first is networks. I still think the networks are too manual. We don’t do enough in those networks where everybody’s showcasing shiny four walls operations that can be run by AGVs and no people. Very sustainable, but the handling of cargo, the building of a ULD, the movement, the loading on an aircraft is still very, very manual.

And then the second thing is I think coming full circle, almost back to the first point we started on, we now need to do a better job of really reaching people at an earlier age to talk about what a great environment logistics and supply chain can be. And I think this is the time because we are doing it on the back of it, having more publicity than ever before, but also we’re doing it on the back of supply chain is being kind of seen as the problem for all of the world’s ills at the moment. And of course it’s not. The great people of supply chain are actually making things manageable. And I think the time is right, if we could find a way to really jump on and push the beauty and the thought and the attraction of logistics and supply chain into younger generations to show it’s a great place to work and a great place to learn, and can give people a really great career.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood What an important point I think to end on, and hopefully something that all our listeners can take away, which is around just demonstrating how fantastic the space can be to work in. And you’re right, the spotlight has been on for a couple of years, and I don’t think the spotlight’s going to come off the logistics and supply chain space for some time. And actually, even if I can share a personal experience of coming into this industry with very little supply chain and logistics experience, not only is this a fascinating space to work in, which is diverse and challenging, and brings up new learnings and lessons every day, but also a space of just unbelievably bright, hardworking people who, to your point, are not exacerbating the problem or making it worse. You are, in fact, making the problem far more manageable than any of us, maybe even realize on a day to day basis, so hopefully an opportunity to bring some more talent into this really exciting industry.

Gareth, I hope you’re ready. It’s time for our quick fire question round, something that we go through with all of our guests. We’ve got a few questions that you haven’t seen before today’s podcast, and I would love to hear your quick speed responses. So, question number one, would you rather that your supply chain were agile or resilient?

Agile, I think.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood Perfect. Question number two, which job, if you could try any, would you love to try in the supply chain space for a day?
I think I would love to be a little bit more closer to the manufacturing process. I deal a lot with the manufacturing process, but I’m not an engineer, and I’m not used to kind of being at that level, so I think some point in the manufacturing process.

Gareth Davies
Helena Wood Interesting. Can you sum up logistics for us in three words?

Anything is possible.
Gareth Davies
Helena Wood I love that. And final question, what is the greatest lesson that you have learned while working in this space?
Undoubtedly, it is that it’s still… For all the technology advances that we are making, it’s still a people business. It’s still me sitting down with somebody and trusting them, and them trusting me, and us agreeing to do something, and then facing up to it if we get it wrong or right. But it’s still a people driven business. People do business with people. Technology just compliments.
Gareth Davies
Helena Wood That’s a great sentiment. Thank you for sharing. Well, that is it for today’s podcast. Gareth, thank you so much for all of your fantastic input and contributions. It’s been absolutely great to catch up with you again.
All right. I’ve really enjoyed it. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Gareth Davies
Helena Wood And thank you very much to all of our listeners to today’s podcast. If you have any questions or feedback, we’d absolutely love to hear from you. Just reach out to either myself or Gareth on LinkedIn, and don’t forget to share like, and subscribe to the podcast. If you’re interested in becoming a guest speaker on one of our future episodes, please do also get in touch. We would love to hear from you. But until next time, thank you all for tuning in, and goodbye.