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Career Story: Director Of Distribution For A Food Company

Director Of Distribution For A Food Company

Job Title: Director Of Distribution

Type of Company: We roast fairly traded coffee and also sell other fair-trade food products. Our fair-trade products come only from farmers working small plots of land.

Education: BA, Economics

Previous Experience: I spent most of my time in outside sales (7 years). Previously, I worked for 9 months at the state department of Health.

Job Tasks: I have a role that bridges the operational side of our business to the sales and marketing side of the business. Distribution receives orders and ships them to customers. As the director, part of my job is to anticipate or understand changes and make sure that our warehouse changes accordingly to ship the orders efficiently. In order to ship orders properly, we have to keep track of the products, where they are, and how many we have. This is called inventory maintenance. We use computer software to track the inventory and process orders; my exposure to accounting helped me learn about inventory more quickly.

Since I have been here for 13 years, my job also includes training many people in my department and in other departments. Sometimes this training is planned, but often it is impromptu (as the need arises). I also arrange for training with other employees or outside of the company.

I also serve on the management team with six other directors. On that committee, I represent my department but I am also supposed to consider issues as if I were the CEO. Our team advises the CEO so that he can make the best decision.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is when I see the people around me working together, in a respectful way, to solve a problem. I also like the wide variety of things I could be doing in a day, from picking orders myself to creating a spreadsheet to show how many products we sold and to which kinds of customers. Every day is different.

The worst part is when my co-workers either shirk their responsibilities or feel like other co-workers are not doing their jobs well. Then everyone feels disappointed in each other and in our work.

Job Tips:
1.) Prepare. In any job that involves meetings or organizing people, let them know ahead of time what you would like the group to accomplish during the time together. Many people dislike meetings, but when they leave a meeting feeling that they have been productive, they feel good. And more work gets done!

2.) Clarify expectations. If you don't know what a supervisor or co-worker expects of you, you might waste time doing what you think they want rather than what they really need. Likewise, if you do not express clear expectations of others, you are not likely to get back what you really want.

3.) Don't pretend to know specialized vocabulary or concepts if you don't. Just ask and you will learn faster.

Additional Thoughts: Always be looking to learn more, and to understand the larger "picture." Small-minded people are not useful. Big thinkers who can also follow up on details can be most productive and are valued by others.

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