R. Tupikaitė: “Understanding clients’ needs and meeting their expectations is a key part of my job”

2024 June, 13

Imagine that every product you consume every day – from the fresh fruit on your grocery shelf to the latest smartphone in your pocket – has its own unique travel story. Behind these stories are professionals whose work often goes unnoticed but is extremely important: freight forwarders. To reveal the secrets of this profession, we talked to Raimonda Tupikaite, one of the  freight forwarders manager of JSC “Tarptautines logistikos centras” , who has been working in the logistics field for ten years.

 

– How did you decide to become a freight forwarding manager and what was the start of your career?
I found myself in the logistics field only thanks to a close friend of mine who worked in a port company and “infected” me with the desire to try myself in an activity that was unfamiliar but intriguing to me. I started my acquaintance with logistics from an apprenticeship position, as I came from a completely different sector, i.e. sales. During my internship, I realized that the field of logistics was very broad and interesting, so I decided to complete a degree in Transport and Logistics Engineering. After graduating, my real professional journey in logistics began. I ventured into different roles: customs broker, ship agent, rail freight coordinator and my main and current profession – freight forwarding manager. This was the role that I liked best and matched my personal qualities, which is why I chose to pursue a career as a freight forwarding manager.

 

– What are your main responsibilities and tasks in your day-to-day work?
My responsibilities and tasks are very varied and cover many different aspects. In my day-to-day work, I plan and coordinate the transport of our customers’ goods from point A to point B. I am in constant contact with all the players in the logistics chain: customers, terminal specialists, institutional representatives, etc. This includes taking orders, completing paperwork, providing information on freight movements, drawing up contracts and coordinating prices. I take care of the documentation for the transport of goods, which includes customs clearance, preparation of insurance documents and obtaining other necessary permits.

 

– Could you briefly describe what a freight forwarder is?
A freight forwarder is a professional who organizes the transport of customers’ goods and handles import and export processes. In a broader sense, a freight forwarder advises and assists clients in the efficient transport of goods from one place to another, as they have all the necessary and specialized knowledge of documentation requirements, regulations, transport costs, etc., which facilitates the freight transport processes of many companies.

 

– What skills and qualities are necessary for success as a Freight Forwarding Manager?
You need to be able to coordinate many different tasks, from planning the optimal route for transporting the cargo to managing the paperwork, and ensuring that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. I would highlight the key qualities required for this job: organizational skills, communication skills, a broad technical knowledge and an understanding of the specifics of the logistics and transport sector. The combination of these skills and qualities enables the smooth and efficient movement of goods through the logistics chain.

 

– What challenges do you face in your work?
The biggest challenge in our business is the unexpected changes in circumstances. Examples range from transport delays, port closures, disruptions in customs systems to unexpected and uncontrollable weather conditions. All of these can cause unforeseen disruptions. In these situations, we need to react quickly and find alternative solutions to ensure that the cargo reaches its destination without major delays.
International transport of goods also requires a lot of paperwork and strict compliance with legislation. Each country has its own rules and requirements, so it is essential to keep abreast of developments and ensure that all documents are prepared correctly and on time.

 

– What is your greatest professional success or moment of pride?
When you meet a client’s expectations, it immediately becomes a professional success. However, I will share my most memorable moment, when I had to take care of a customer’s cargo – an exceptional fertiliser. It arrived at the port of Klaipėda, the loading terminal, and had to be transported to the customer’s specified location. It all seems simple and straightforward. However, both the loading terminal specialists and I had a ‘panic attack’ when we found out that the fertiliser was pink with four shades, and that we had to categorise the cargo according to the shades. It is no secret that everyone perceives colours, especially shades, differently, so we had a good time sorting the fertiliser by colour. When this difficult work of sorting was done, I realised that it had taken a lot of laughter, inner excitement, inexhaustible patience, tolerance of others who do not have the same perception of colours as I do, in order to achieve together the final and desired result. The moral of the story is that we spent a lot of time and effort to get the shades right and to meet the client’s expectations.

 

– I have heard that this profession requires constant updating of professional knowledge, is this true?
Yes, it is. It is very important to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the transport and logistics sector, which helps to generate new ideas and to be able to offer exceptional solutions to our clients more quickly. Working in this sector, you need to constantly improve and adapt to the changing environment, because that’s the only way to provide a quality service to your clients.

 

– How do you manage to maintain a work-life balance in this dynamic profession?
Good time management, a clear work-life balance, self-care, support from loved ones. Although all this takes effort, these methods help to ensure that work life does not overtake personal life. Although I have to admit that I answer the phone no matter what time of day, because it is my responsibility to meet the expectations of our company’s clients.