Finding your way to the logistics industry is a long, winding journey that takes people through many facets of international business, customer service, and procurement. While coming to careers in logistics, there is no special mix of what skills a person needs. Instead, we often find success because of the special, personal mix of talent, passion, community, and opportunity. 

This month, we sat down with Maria Termes, Operations Specialist at Direct Expedite, LLC, based in Colombia, for a brief interview to learn more about her experience and how she found herself at Direct Expedite. 

How did you become an operations specialist?

From the time I was very young, organization and responsibility were two important things that stood out in my personality. After interacting with other people, especially when at school or college, they put me to work in groups where I stood out for showing leadership by organizing and making sure everyone had a task to work on. I knew that in order to make an organized and successful project, we needed to get ahead with teamwork.

By earning my degree in international business, I think it pushed me more and helped me to develop more innate instincts I had, the first of which was falling in love with the logistics world. With the skills I developed in college, I started to visualize myself working in a logistics career. I started looking at LinkedIn and talked with the people (that college introduced me to) who were looking out for the same interests, in the same field and to get to know more about being an operations specialist.  

That’s where I found Direct Expedite and started to work as an operations specialist analyst, quickly realizing that the opportunity fulfilled all the challenges I wanted to take on. This allowed me to exercise my different capacities, from managing limited resources to successfully meeting customer desires by creating a comfortable environment between the clients and the company.

What skills are most important in your day-to-day operations?

1. Problem-solving skills: Challenges will appear at any moment during the day-to-day operations. Problem-solving skills allow me enough options and patience to implement solutions that can help overcome problems we need to solve in a short time and to be able to adapt to changing situations that can become big opportunities and rewards.

2. Communication skills: Not only verbal but also written, listening, negotiation, and presentation skills are important. They will help you to solve conflicts, provide feedback, and will be useful in negotiating deals with carriers for a lower shipping cost.

3. Awareness of improving customer experiences: From the moment they get in touch with us, until they receive their load, everything we do makes an impact.  By using logistics software, we implement analytical skills to optimize schedules for shipments and deliveries and maximize cost-effectiveness. Keeping them updated 24/7 with the process and ensuring that they get a great memory of our service brings them back again and again once we finish our first interaction.

4. Attention to detail:  Organizing all the needs for the customer transportation and truck is a complex set of issues. Collaborating with the best freight companies to plan deliveries and shipments, identifying ways to improve customer experiences, and maintaining policy and procedure documents make an investment in the future successes we want to see come to fruition. Maintaining a clean and up-to-date client or customer profile, ensuring that regulations are followed, and making sure that the receiver (the location/person receiving the shipment) verifies that everything came off the truck as it should with our team provides a blueprint of standard procedures that have proven excellence. 

If a truck breaks down (which has happened before) our 24/7 team is able to find another driver who can get there, load the shipment onto his/her truck and be back on the road, without a single hiccup in the delivery window. We make sure the customer knows there was a change in trucks, but there was no interruption in service.

5. Time management: Tracking and reporting on operational performance and overseeing the operations team and assigning tasks take time away from clients, so accurate time accounting helps improve efficiency and get us back to the customer swiftly.

6. Adaptability: Keeping an open mind when interacting with customers and suppliers, proactively answering questions, and resolving issues before they become problems keeps us ahead of complications.

People in logistics often find their job or career by accident. Before Direct Expedite, did you have other plans?

I did my internship at a bank to get to know the financial field but it really wasn’t very fulfilling for me. I always thought that logistics, transportation, and supply chain management affected so many aspects of our day-to-day lives. I’ve always wanted to work at a place that allowed me to use all the knowledge I got at college; somewhere I can interact with customers and improve my level of English. Also, in the future, I would like to live in the United States. I am eager to work for an international company where I can learn and see from a different culture’s perspective, and thrive on the excitement of landing new clients and where I can continue understanding and learn more about international companies and cultures.

As people rarely go to “Logistics School”, what education do you think they should have to help them in a logistics or trucking career? For example, understanding economics helps understand the market forces of supply and demand, a key principle of trade and transportation.

Despite the six skills I talked about in the previous question, I think that people who would be a good fit in this field, if they enjoy becoming familiarized with the different roles, tasks and how each one of them impacts the whole operation. It will be very important to understand the big picture of the whole supply chain and how it works. Do you enjoy learning about special policies, regulations and certificates depending on the state? Have the ability to think on your feet and approach a situation quickly and effectively? Maybe logistics is right for you? Problem solving and decision-making are very important and because sometimes things can go wrong, having strong communication skills is imperative to properly communicate with the team and help to solve problems effectively and efficiently.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Ten years from now, I see myself as a strong, independent, healthy, and most important of all, happy woman. I hope to be working in the United States or in Spain in the field of logistics. I am confident that my experience at Direct Expedite will help me reach my goals and especially help me to get experience to grow not only as a person, but also as a professional. I will have graduated with a Master’s degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, as well as a Master’s in Design or Architecture for my hobby.  By the time I turn thirty, I will be looking to visit dozens of countries around the world and experience places of incredible beauty. Another of my wishes is to be able to build a very beautiful house, have a couple of dogs and though I love my family, I think that I’m not sure if I will still be living in my native country, Colombia. But if I’m not, then I am certain that I will visit often to see my family and friends as frequently as my job allows me to.

At Direct Expedite, we are driven to facilitate the success of our employees and help them achieve their dreams. Companies are only as good as the team they have, and our team is second to none. If you want to know how different it is to work with a company that invests in success, contact your Direct Expedite representative today.