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6 Career Tips for Iowa’s Logistics Professionals in 2019

This news story was published on March 25, 2019.
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There’s never been a more exciting time to be a logistics professional. This is largely down to constantly evolving technologies and the seemingly unlimited potential of computers and artificial intelligence, the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and greater efficiency through improved communication. This is obviously all positive for approximately 64,500 people who work in Iowa’s distribution and warehousing industry, but it’s also brought new challenges. Iowa’s logistics and supply chain management (SCM) professionals are now not only trying to stand out in a competitive field, but they’re also trying to adapt alongside constantly moving technologies as the lines between planning and execution merge.

With all this to contend with, here are 6 key tips for Iowans looking to progress their logistics and SCM careers in 2019.


  • Stick with Iowa!


If you’re one of those people, you’ll be glad to hear that you’ve made a great career choice as you’re perfectly positioned in terms of career opportunities. According to the Iowa Area Development Group, Iowa is a fantastic place to be working in distribution and logistics as it offers a huge range of transportation options including over 113,000 miles of highway (including 3 Interstate highways), almost 4,000 miles of rail freight track, 108 public-owned airports and 60 barge terminals. In terms of geographical advantages, a truck leaving Iowa can reach 252 million people within two days of driving, and both freight and rail shipments take just a few hours to reach major markets such as Minneapolis, St. Louis, Omaha, Kansas City, and Chicago.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that logistics and distribution make up around $5 billion of Iowa’s annual goods and services. When it comes to choices and opportunities for promotion, Iowa is ideal.


  • Expand and Diversify Your Skills


The evolution of technology enables logistics professionals to advance beyond a single role or function as it’s now easier than ever before to view, monitor and analyze the entire process from start to finish. For this reason, more and more companies are looking for people who can handle multiple responsibilities and tasks. This is sometimes referred to as a Network Planner and is someone who can plan on an end-to-end basis. If you can expand your skill set to be able to take on a variety of responsibilities, you will be a much more attractive candidate when you choose to look for a more senior role or have a promotion opportunity.


  • Take Your Training and Education to the Next Level


To achieve the depth of knowledge and diverse skills needed to handle these extra responsibilities, you should be looking for additional training courses. In order to cultivate end-to-end supply chain expertise, consider doing certifications offered by professional associations and universities. The best thing to do is to aim to get your online masters in supply chain management as this will cover all the skills needed to advance your career and make you a prime candidate for leadership roles. Online courses offer the flexibility of being able to study while working at your own pace and are often more affordable than traditional, on-campus courses.


  • Grow Your Professional Network


Another way to enhance your skills is to get networking with other SCM and logistics professionals. Your colleagues and managers, as well as professionals in other companies, are a great source of inspiration when it comes to how to overcome challenges and solve problems. Are there ways in which you could help them to overcome those challenges and become a more valued member of the team? It doesn’t hurt to ask senior people for advice on your career path and ways in which you could improve your performance as it will show that you are committed to the industry and the success of the company.

It’s also advisable to attend as many professional and trade networking events as you can on both a local and national basis. You’ll gain extra knowledge and could potentially meet new connections who could help you to take the next step in your career. If you’re feeling confident, you may even want to consider speaking and presenting at these events to boost your profile in the industry and sharpen your communication skills. ‘Soft’ skills like teamwork, communication, negotiation, and collaboration are key to success at a senior level so you should get as much experience as you can.

However, if public speaking isn’t your preferred method of communication or you can’t find an opportunity, writing articles and blogs for professional websites will also enable you to boost your credibility in the industry. You could do this on your company’s website or start an independent opinion blog.


  • Learn from Success


Every ambitious professional needs a mentor to learn from and discuss their challenges with, but often the best ones are people external to your company. You should find someone who you admire but who you also trust so you can discuss your career ambitions without impacting your current role. If you get the opportunity, become a mentor yourself to support and encourage others, especially those who are just starting out in their career. It will do wonders for your confidence and will strengthen your position as an authority in the industry.


  • Take Every Opportunity


You could be the most qualified and experienced person in the industry, but if you aren’t bold enough to take risks in your career, you’re unlikely to be rewarded. You should prepare for career progression as much as possible through training, education, networking, and collaboration, but you also need to be ready to turn the theory into practice when the opportunity comes along. For example, if a senior person leaves or is promoted, you should make it clear that you’re interested in progression at the very least and put yourself forward. Very often, the only thing which stands in the way of our advancement is our own lack of self-belief. If you’ve taken the time and effort to become a valued asset for your company, make sure they are aware of your newly developed skill set. In some cases, you may find that your current company is unlikely to be able to offer you the progression you’re looking for; if you believe that to be the case, you need to take a chance and look for somewhere new to take the next steps in your career.


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