At first glance, few would think that the working lives of a transport manager and an officer in the armed forces would have much parity. But being involved in running a military organisation has many factors in common with running an international fleet of multiple carriers–and is equally, if not more, demanding.
Consider the example of a 5,000-strong armoured brigade that includes 58 tanks, 145 infantry fighting vehicles, 320 light armoured fighting vehicles and around 400 wheeled administrative and support vehicles. Keeping a formation this size on the move and ready to fight is a truly immense task.
Substantial holdings of technical spares have to be carried, distributed where needed and, if necessary, fitted under highly demanding conditions, while fuel resupply is a constant concern.
The automotive logistics industry offers many challenges requiring a specific set of skills and aptitudes, most of which directly correlate with the demands made on military personnel daily. For example, a captain in the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) with seven years’ service would have a range of skills and experiences that would amply qualify them for a middle management role within a global provider. These skills would include project management qualifications, which in most cases will have been operationally proven. Knowledge of warehouse and transport operations would be provided by anyone who had served as an operations officer in a logistics regiment, while the ability to communicate effectively with different departments at all levels is endemic to officer training.
When applying for a senior logistics role, any candidate would be expected to have experience of leading cross-functional teams: an RLC Captain is likely to have run a platoon of up to 40 specialist supply soldiers in his earlier service, and to have conducted HQ co-ordination functions across a logistics regiment of more than 600, while an acting major will typically have experience of running supply organisations well over 100-strong; a lieutenant colonel would also have experience of 600 or more.
There will always be demand for well qualified, talented individuals in automotive logistics. This sector is a notably good fit for those with the corresponding military background. Beyond their directly relevant skills, those who have served in the armed forces also offer potential employers the universal military virtues of adaptability, team skills, task focus and integrity coupled with selfdiscipline. Governments invest a great deal of money in training their armed forces to world-class standards: the automotive logistics industry is particularly well placed to reap the benefits.