From education to employment

Shipping apprentice swaps with CEO to gain global view

Growing logistics and transportation company Seafast gave one of its apprentices a global view when she swapped with the CEO to mark National Apprenticeship Week.

Group CEO, David Halliday, started his career in the shipping industry as a documentation clerk in the 1980s, and is committed to providing career progression opportunities within Seafast.

Abigail Hooker, 31, who joined the company’s Felixstowe Head Office last year, is undertaking an International Freight Forwarding apprenticeship and the job swap gave her the chance to glimpse how her future could develop.

On International Women’s Day on Friday, Abigail worked at the CEO’s desk (pictured) researching a major strategic challenge facing the company. She was asked to analyse two options for providing a new, significantly expanded temperature-controlled loading facility to enable the company to extend its range of services.

Meanwhile David worked in Abigail’s office undertaking invoicing, receipt of shipment and booking confirmation tasks – a sharp reminder, he said, of the attention to detail required. He praised Abigail’s observations and thought-processes in tackling her strategic task.

Abigail is taking her apprenticeship through Outsource, part of the Seetec Group, and says: “It is really interesting and has given me a lot more knowledge, especially about the customs side of my role.

“I have worked in the transport sector previously but this is my first job in freight forwarding. I co-ordinate shipments to the Falkland Islands and it’s all new to me. It’s exciting to see the opportunities to progress in the industry.”

CEO David Halliday started his career as a retail management trainee. He said: “I had friends who had gone into shipping and their jobs seemed much more exciting.”

He worked for a number of Suffolk-based shipping companies as he sought opportunities for career progression. Eventually he secured a commercial role with a company which was trading in Australasia and the Far East and he has never looked back. He progressed to Commercial Director and worked his way up, becoming Chief Executive of Contship Containerlines.

In 2007, he joined Seafast as CEO and Shareholder. He said: “Seafast is different to a lot of freight forwarding companies, the focus of our activity is in a number of remote, challenging, countries and emerging markets, such as Ethiopia where we are delivering vehicles for the United Nations. We are also sending goods to South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Kurdistan and establishing links in Rwanda.”

Apprenticeships are vital to the company’s growth plans. Already former apprentices have progressed into more senior roles and David is enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate with the young people we’ve recruited. We’re not a big company and I tell the apprentices that it’s down to them how far they go. The attraction of what we do is that we’re different. If they have drive and ambition, there’s plenty of opportunity to progress in our fast-growing company.

“If you get the right individuals, it’s a chance to mould them in a particular way and have them become part of the DNA of Seafast.”

With Abigail also being asked to tackle a customer inquiry about transporting frozen products from Mexico to Japan, she certainly had the chance to take a global view.

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