This time is the turn of one of our apprentice successes and rising stars, Ben Gibbs, to tell his PFE story.
What’s your journey been with PFE?
I joined PFE in April 2015. It was quite by chance that I came to work at PFE. I had applied for various apprenticeships in the area and PFE was one of the options. I came in for an interview and was accepted – I was in the right place at the right time.
When I first started, I knew nothing about logistics. It was a mystery job. My first role was working with the LCL Delivery Department shadowing my supervisor and learning the ropes from him. He taught me the basics. I remember thinking back then that the complexity of the process of shipping stuff was mind blowing. I couldn’t believe the amount of tracking and paperwork that was involved and also the effort that goes into getting things, once they arrive in this country, to the customer quickly.
I worked in that team for two years and then moved on to the Transport Department. I am Key Accounts Transport Coordinator, working on one of our biggest accounts and am responsible for coordinating the drivers’ collection and delivery schedules to ensure the successful distribution of goods all over the country. I’ve been doing my current role for nearly 2 years. I have a lot more responsibility now. For example, if my manager isn’t in, I can pretty much cover his post. I’ve been given the opportunity to prove myself, but I don’t ever feel left completely unsupported. The Directors are always aware when I’m looking after the operation without my manager. But I’m glad they trust me to manage things.
I’ve learned so much from the people I’ve worked with. I joined PFE when I was only 17 and I’ve grown up so much since then. I’ve had positive feedback about how I’m doing, and I hope to continue to do well.
Number of years in the industry?
It’s been four years now. Hopefully it will become a lot more as I’m really enjoying working here. I like the unpredictability of the industry. You never know what kind of day you’re going to have when you walk into the office in the morning. There are so many variables that impact transport operations – traffic, vehicle breakdowns, vehicles being loaded incorrectly. The challenge of keeping on top of everything throughout the day is what I enjoy the most. You cannot take your eye off the ball.
What makes PFE different from the rest?
I don’t have any other companies to compare PFE with but talking to colleagues who have worked elsewhere and also from conversations with other hauliers, I think the size of PFE makes a difference. We are still a relatively small company, so we all work closely together and most of us work in the same building. If I was working for a massive freight forwarder, I wouldn’t have the direct contact with the Directors. There is no massive chain of command here. Senior people are approachable and available to me.
The best thing about working at PFE are the people. Everyone that I’ve worked with, across the board, seems really happy to be working here. It’s a very positive environment. When I started, everyone told me that I would love working here. They were right. Even though I have no experience of working anywhere else to compare it to, I know I benefit from working in a nice place with nice people.
What are three words that describe PFE?
Reliable, Quality and Great Communication
What is the favourite thing about your job?
The unpredictability. Weird as that sounds. It can be stressful, but it keeps me on my toes. I like to be kept busy – there have been very few times that I have watched the clock working here. I like the day to day variation and the challenge of dealing with uncertainty.
Do you have any future ambitions?
I feel like I’ve come a long way already. When I was an apprentice, I was here on a Level 2 Business and Administration Apprenticeship. I was put forward to Level 3 but I decided that I wanted to learn something else so now I’m doing a Level 3 Team Leader/Supervisor course. So I’m learning how to motivate a team and lead staff, which I hope will help me on the next rung of the ladder.
In a few years time I’d like to be taking on more responsibility for transport across the key account I am working on and even possibly lead the transport team.
I’ve not thought much further ahead than that, but I definitely see myself staying in the industry and working my way up.
Who was your favourite childhood hero and why?
I would have to say my Dad, as cliché as that sounds, because I don’t recall having a superhero or a character that inspired me.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
I do love eating. Looking at me you wouldn’t believe me. I store it all in my legs! I love pasta. Any sort.
What’s your favourite movie?
Blues Brothers, the 1980 version. Because my Dad loved the film, so I watched it with him as a child as strange as that might seem for those who have seen it. I love it. I could watch it tonight, like I was watching it for the first time. The soundtrack is great as well.