Making it in the shipping industry

By by Honorine Kaze
March 2012
Women in Business
A job in the shipping industry was traditionally reserved for men. However, women are increasingly proving their worth and more and more women are climbing the corporate ladder and contributing positively to the industry.

Déjà-Vu Albrightson (28) is one of the few women in that industry occupying a managerial position.

Albrightson with her youthfulness, dynamism and positive outlook to life has been an ocean freight manager at Desert Logistics Forwarding since April last year.

Desert Logistics Forwarding is a local company that has been growing at a rapid rate and is therefore constantly expanding its workforce. They are also a partner of the Commercial Advanced Training Scheme CATS

The company deals with services such as warehousing, distribution; courier services; import and export cargo, ocean and airfreight, LCL handling and break-bulk shipments. The services are done on behalf of the global; regional and Namibian companies as well as non-governmental organisations.

In addition, they deal with logistics companies and couriers; forwarding agents and cartage contractors; suppliers and distributors; charters and rental companies as well as individuals worldwide.

Albrightson’s area of expertise at Desert Logistics Forwarding is to ensure that all aspects of Ocean Freight movements are facilitated.

Before her appointment at the company as the ocean freight manager, Desert Logistics dealt mostly with air and road freight while the sea freight was fully incorporated when she joined the company.

The born and bred Windhoeker is very enthusiastic about her job, regardless of the many challenges encountered in the process.

“The job has a lot of challenges and can put you under pressure. However, I like the fact that I know how to do it well and get satisfaction from knowing that we have carried out our clients’ missions to the fullest. Every day is a new day for me with different challenges. I always learn something new in the industry and I keep meeting new people,” she says.

Albrightson has pretty much spent her adulthood in the freight business where she started from the bottom and worked her way up the ladder.

The journey started when she finished high school at Technical High School in Windhoek, 2002.

She started working at Kuehne Nagel (Pty) Ltd in 2003 where she ended up becoming a permanent worker as a sea freight import assistant for three years, taking care of duties such as shipping and handling of cargo; invoicing, preparation of customs as well as harbouring and transporting documents.

She also dealt with keeping a good relational network of all the parties involved; from the clients, customs and the different shipping line representative.

She then moved to Transworld Cargo (Pty) Ltd as an import assistant for two years. She dealt with a number of services needed in the sea freight business.

In between, she managed to attend different training programmes to upgrade her knowledge. She also had a stint in the UK where she gained valuable work experiences.

In her current job, some of her daily chores include quoting customers; booking vessels; preparing documents, billing, stats and new market feasibilities.

“I am basically the middleman; in this case, the woman between the shipper, consignee and all relevant parties involved.”

When it comes to her work ethics, she sees herself as a flexible and adaptable individual to the customer’s needs.

She prides herself in the fact that she has all the authority and liberty to make all decisions when it comes to her field.

Under her able managerial guidance, the major services rendered are the export of beer worldwide; transit cargo for South African cargo consumers, import shipments for various Namibian companies.

Albrightson stresses on the growing importance of a shipping industry worldwide as there will always be goods to be transported and it will not always be possible to transport everything by air or road.

“Commodities will always have to be transported around the world and as mankind has evolved, we have developed more efficient and safer ways of transporting goods and shipping has been recognised throughout the ages, especially for abnormal loads,” she says.

Desert Logistics is part of the International DB Schenker network, which is one of the largest freight forwarders in the world. Currently, they export to major ports around the world in countries like North America; Europe, China, East Africa, West Africa and Australia.

Although, she describes her job as very exciting, she also has to deal with challenges related to the fact that Namibia has one port of international standards, not giving much variety in port access compared to other countries such as South Africa that has many international ports, hence leading to the fact that they face high port costs.

The volatility of the Namibian dollar towards other currencies keeps them on their toes as they have to keep monitoring the exchange rates closely as well.

The major challenge lately is the turbulent business climate that has been existing worldwide with major currencies crisis such as the Euro zone.

“This crisis could carry on for a number of years, hence the shipping industry can expect a lot of volatility,” she says.

However, she emphasises on the fact that their company was dynamic enough to foresee the downturn from the poor performance of the global economy. Therefore, they could counter the effect by shifting their concentration onto less sensitive commodities like pharmaceuticals.

Locally, the downturn experienced in mining supply shipments also constituted a challenge but strategies were quickly put in place to counter them.

Desert Logistics partners with companies from different sectors such as brewing, pharmaceuticals, mining suppliers and hardware wholesalers. Some of the well known companies they work with are Namibia Breweries Limited, OMNITEL Siemens Telecommunication agent, Nampharm and Geka; both prominent pharmaceuticals.

Albrightson is proud of the progress made by Desert Logistics from its inceptions in 2002 as it has nearly doubled its turnover on a annual basis ever since.

Albrightson concludes by saying that: “I am very proud of the achievements I have made already. For the future, I intend to keep on going upwards, there is no going down; I shall never limit myself and can always achieve more and that is my intention.” PF