December 2001 | How-To | Ten Tips

Hiring the Perfect Logistics Manager

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"You can have the best sales and marketing groups, the finest accounting department, the latest technology, and top-notch customer service, but if you have a weak logistics team and you can't get your product out and delivered on time to the right destination, you are dead in the water," says William Conroy, president of Tyler Search Consultants, New York, N.Y. This means your logistics managers have to be on top of their game.

Here are 10 tips for recruiting the perfect logistics manager.

1. Look for leadership. Find someone who is a true leader. He or she must be able to provide the vision and develop the necessary strategies for the entire logistics and supply chain pipeline. The candidate must be effective at presenting the company's logistics direction at all executive sessions.

2. Make sure the candidate has all the logistics management skills covered, including supply chain management, transportation, distribution, warehousing, technology, customs, order fulfillment, trade issues, and third-party management. The candidate must be adept at team building, staff development, and succession planning.

3. Search out someone with a track record of achievements and accomplishments. Resumes should depict these achievements, not just provide a list of duties and responsibilities. Ask yourself these questions: Is the person a good negotiator? Has the applicant acquired the best rates and performance from carriers and third-party service providers? Does the person have experience forging partnerships with optimal results?

4. Examine the candidate's cost containment experience. Look for the candidate who has effectively executed cost containment tactics. Has the applicant reduced freight expense per pound, head count, or operating and inventory costs? Logistics managers today must be fully cognizant of freight budget status. Many small- to mid-size firms have an "approximate cost," but few know their actual freight expenses.

5. Find out if the person has developed or redesigned processes. Constant reengineering of logistics processes is necessary, and you want a manager who can proactively review customer needs and service levels, create faster cycle times and superior on-time delivery, and provide better documentation. Has the applicant ever authored a policy and procedures manual at a former company?

6. Search for the candidate with good analytical skills. Ask if he/she has experience in performance benchmarking or in developing metrics to measure goals vs. actuals. What forecasting methods and applications has the person used?

7. Seek out a good listener and communicator. Your logistics manager must be an exceptional listener and communicator. He or she must be able to build cohesive relationships with cross-functional groups and effectively articulate the benefits of potential improvements to the processes. The manager must get the client teams to buy into a logistics program strategy.

8. Check for experience in implementation. Besides orchestrating major implementation programs—a new warehouse management or information systems program, for example—can the candidate proactively institute regulatory compliance programs and handle ISO or NAFTA certifications?

9. Get a techie. In the last five years, technology has greatly impacted logistics. Successful and seamless logistics/supply chain integration has been a costly buy-and-try proposition for too many companies. Strong systems knowledge is critical to properly selecting new IT initiatives.

10. Go for guts. The logistics manager is a highly visible and vulnerable position in today's corporate structure. Changes in logistics programs affect multiple teams, as well as the end customer. This is not a realm for the weak.

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