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What Skills Are Important To Succeed In the Position of a Traffic and Transportation Manager

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Specific skills include computer knowledge and, in the four major areas, customer service, inventory control, transportation, and production scheduling. Also, it is important to be a quick learner. We don't expect a background in all four, but I would stress having a transportation background.

It is important to get some on-the-job training, to work on the freight docks, and to find out what it's all about.

I think that some of the most important skills have to do with communications ability, whether it is listening, speaking, or nonverbal communication. We don't make anything, all we do is try to organize things so that we can move products for other people. I think that you need to spend some time on the job to understand the business. I don't say that you need twenty years of experience, because you can catch on to the nuts and bolts fairly quickly, but it does take a year or two to understand a few things about it.

Planning, ability to control, ability to influence, leadership, the ability to motivate, selection of the proper people, ability to organize, and, once you get into the hierarchy, ability to administer.

Students are going to learn something out of their courses, but when they come out of college and actually get into a career in transportation, I think they have to realize that there's a lot more to transportation than they thought. It's not just knowing the different modes of transportation and things of that nature. It's understanding how transportation affects all the other areas of the corporation. In order to do that, you have to understand the other functional areas.

Question - What do you enjoy about your job?

Answer - I enjoy transportation because it relates to all the areas of the company and not just the warehousing area or just the finished goods warehouse. It impacts whatever is coming into the company. It affects our plants and movement between our plants. It deals with all the different energies within the corporation. At the same time I deal with many different companies outside the organization. I have the opportunity to learn what direction their companies are going in, and what ideas they have. They develop different ways to approach things, that helps me do a better job of leveraging our freight and to maintain or improve our overall service to our customers. We deal with every mode of transportation outside of pipeline. We deal with common carriers, regular route, irregular route, contract carriers, small cartage companies, regional LTL, state LTL, intrastate LTL, contracts, specialized services, messengers, direct air, air freight forwarders, overnight package companies, the railroad, the piggybacks, the consolidators, the forwarders, and the ocean carriers. You add all those together, and it is very interesting.

I like the level of authority. If that's your game, this is the job for you. I control a large territory and have people working for me who are dealing with a lot of funds. We are compensated well for what we do. That's one form of motivation for me.

I like the excitement of something new each day and the fulfillment of accomplishment. I can see something that's been done. If it were an intangible thing, I probably wouldn't be as excited about it, but it's something I can definitely see, and I'm recognized for it.

Transportation was always done by the little shipping clerk in the back; nobody paid attention to it. Now the manufacturers and companies have realized how much can be saved by a good transportation person. They are paying more attention to us.

Question - What do you dislike about your job?

Answer - I am quite frequently left out during the initial planning. I dislike coming in after the fact and fixing something that we could have implemented properly had we been involved from the beginning.

The inconsistency, no two days are the same. I solve a problem, it satisfies me, I have a couple good days, and then bang, another light goes out. Sometimes the inconsistency doesn't let you catch your breath.

It's a never-ending thing-I walk out of here at night, and there are things that are not completed. There are many different people I have to deal with, and I am at their mercy to get things done. If they have not given me the information I need, I have to leave that undone. There are times I have to sit back and say, "Look, I did the best I could today. I can start again tomorrow." There is a lot of stress.

Question - How much time do you spend at your job?

Answer - Ten to twelve hours every day, and that sometimes includes Saturdays. Those are long days, and my work goes home with me every night. One of the reasons I take it home is that our home office is on a different time schedule. When I go home at 6:00, it is only 3:00 there. So a lot of times I am able to get a lot of work finished with them at home, rather than staying here and getting locked in.

I usually get in here somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30 A.M. I don't usually get out of here until 5:30 or 6:00 P.M.

We do some entertaining of customers, and this may involve evening or weekend entertainment. I'm not really counting that in the overall average. I normally spend about ten hours a day, either in the office, out on my own, or with a sales representative.
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