Logistics managers or executives ensure producers have a reliable supply of raw materials, and coordinate the distribution of finished goods to consumers. They focus on meeting consumer demand and minimizing the costs of storing and transporting goods. Logistics executives can work for business entities such as logistics and transportation companies, manufacturing plants and supermarkets, as well as governmental organizations.
Using the Skills
Logistics executives need excellent analytical, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. They must evaluate an organization’s logistical operations and come up with ways to improve efficiency. For example, if a contracted distributor often fails to deliver goods to a supermarket's retail stores in a timely manner, the executive can recommend the purchase of a private distribution fleet.
Logistics executives also need negotiation skills to get the best prices from suppliers and service providers, and planning skills to ensure logistical activities stay on schedule. Because these professionals often lead a team that might include logistics coordinators and storage specialists, they also need strong skills in personnel management to be effective supervisors.
It is the job of logistics executives to formulate strategies for minimizing an organization’s logistical costs along the supply chain. If a manufacturing plant stores raw materials at an offsite storage facility, for example, the executive might recommend storing the materials onsite to save on transportation costs, as well as eliminate the time spent in moving the materials. If the plant has a low production volume, she can have the finished goods immediately distributed to wholesalers and retailers, instead of storing them at a hired warehouse for distribution at a later date.
Maintaining Business Relationships
Logistics managers must cultivate and maintain positive business relationships with suppliers, customers and providers of trucking, shipping and other transportation services. When an organization has an urgent need of supplies, a savvy executive should be able to contact another supplier to deliver materials on short notice.
Other duties of logistics executives include monitoring changes in transportation and shipping laws and regulations, assessing the financial impacts of regulatory changes, and obtaining permits for transporting hazardous materials.
Aspiring logistics executives must earn at least a bachelor's degree in logistics and supply chain management. Those who want to deal with technical products such as manufacturing machines should earn a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. Aspirants usually begin in entry-level positions such as logistics coordinator to gain the experience required of executive positions. The American Society of Transportation and Logistics offers the Certified in Transportation and Logistics credential that holders can obtain to heighten their chances of securing this job. Experienced executives with a master's degree in business administration or logistics management can secure top logistics positions in multinational corporations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of logisticians will increase by 22 percent between 2012 and 2022, faster than the 11 percent average for all jobs. The BLS notes that the annual average pay for logisticians was $76,330 in 2013.