Ben B.

Area Logistics Manager
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Ben B.
Post-war Reconstruction and Development
Post-War Recovery Studies
Taught Postgraduate
United Kingdom

My employment

Area Logistics Manager
Congo, the Democratic Republic of the
Charity and voluntary sector
Large business (250+ employees)

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A day in the life of a Area Logistics Manager in Congo, the Democratic Republic of the

What I do

I manage the logistics functions for Tearfund, a relief and development charity, in the provinces of South Kivu and Maniema in the DRC. In brief I manage a team of 20 personnel and my role is to ensure that my team gives strong and efficient logistics support to our programme teams in order to deliver donor funded humanitarian projects in sectors such as Food Security, WASH and SGBV. The logistics functions I oversee are: Procurement, Warehousing, Vehicle management, IT and Communications, and Asset management.

What I like most

Working in a humanitarian and development setting such as the DRC means that no day is the same and I am constantly dealing with different challenges and the completely unexpected. The logistics functions of humanitarian programmes make or break a project and so searching for solutions to problems and making things happen/work can be very enjoyable, although this sometimes can be frustrating.

What I like least

The hardest part of the job is that you are often based in very difficult and isolated environments which can mean that maintaining a good work/life balance is hard, and also that you face many pressures that you wouldn't face in a more "normal" location.

How I looked for work

I have now worked for Tearfund for the best part of three years and initially after graduating i had received the offer for a development post with Tearfund in South Sudan. Towards the end of my MA I began applying to different organisations that appealed to me. There are number of good websites for charity/development based jobs and this was where I began searching and also I was searching the websites of organisations/charities I knew of already. For me the experience was not so difficult but I did send off a number of applications and it can be a frustrating process.

How I found out about the job

Already worked there

The recruitment process

I was in my role as project support officer in the DRC and I was covering the work of different roles, and so when this opportunity came up I decided to apply and was encouraged to do so by senior staff in my programme. The process was stringent, with a full written application (CV, questions etc) followed by a 3 hour logistics aptitudes test and finally two interviews. This process took close to 2 months.

My career goals when I graduated

When I graduated my immediate goal was to enter into the humanitarian/development sector. At that stage I wasn't clear on what direction to take apart from getting into the sector, as it is very competitive and difficult to do so.

My career history

I have worked with Tearfund in two roles, firstly as a project support officer in South Sudan and DRC, and then as Area logistics Manager in DRC.

I have also had an internship with the fairtrade organisation Tradecraft and have done different volunteering activities. (Working for an MP, and a 6 week trip to Rwanda)

What has helped my career to progress

I will give three key examples I think have helped me:

1) Hard work: This is the key to everything, hard work comes first and then the benefits from that will arrive.

2) Adaptability: It is good to try different things/activities even if you don't think you have the ability to do them or if you're not sure you're interested in them. Also within your role, be able to adapt to meet changing circumstances and challenges.

3) Listening: I think taking the time to listen to senior personnel or experienced professionals is so important as they have been there and done it. I am constantly learning from other people and getting advice on the best way to do a task or a point in the right direction can be extremely helpful.

Courses taken since graduation

Project Management Course with LINGOs: It was helpful in that it raised a number of different management techniques and skills that I wasn't aware of and that have been useful to me in my current role.

How my studies have helped my career

Firstly through my degree in PPE and then my MA in Post-war recovery studies, I have been able to look at a wide range of topics and to try and learn different skills. I think that has been one of the most important elements as I am drawing upon the skills I learnt at York in my day to day work. This can be as simple as: flexibility, meeting deadlines, working with colleagues.

What surprised me about my career so far

I have been very lucky to work in two very challenging environments of South Sudan and DRC, and also that I have moved into management very early in my career.

Where I hope to be in 5 years

I am still in the process of working this question out for myself so I can't give a good answer right now.

My advice about working in my industry

It is an extremely rewarding and enriching sector to work in; you will meet incredible people, see fantastic work achieved which changes peoples lives, work in multi-cultural teams in demanding and fascinating countries. It will teach you a lot about yourself and what you are capable of. However, this is with the caveat that it is extremely challenging living and working in an insecure and highly pressurised environment day in day out.

Contacting me

I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the sector I work in or just from my experience at York. I would be happy to mentor anybody who is interested in working in the humanitarian/development sector.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Ben’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Ben a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Ben to be your mentor.

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