FIDI Masters in Moving (MIM2) diploma gives students the opportunity to learn and make a quantifiable difference in their businesses. Dominic Weaver speaks to Ashley Gorb, Director of International Commercial Operations at Atlas World Group, about the changes attending a MiM2 helped her implement in her company
Ashley Gorb, Director of International Commercial Operations at Atlas World Group, says after 10 years in the industry she was ready to take part in a FIDI Masters in Moving diploma (MiM2) – and had heard good reviews from industry colleagues. ‘I went to my first FIDI conference, in Amsterdam, and a few people said you’ve got to do this training, it’s so great. So the idea of doing the course was planted in my head,’ she says.
Although taking part in the programme virtually wasn’t a part of her plan, Gorb says she enjoyed the online delivery – having already studied for the majority of her Master’s degree this way well before it became enforced by COVID.
‘It was a great programme. As much as it sounded fun to go some place for a week and really get that immersive, condensed experience, I think more of it stuck because it was a bit more spread out,’ she says. ‘And I was at home and able to join the classes without people coming into my office.
‘It was a little daunting when you saw all the invites coming in beforehand, but it went really well, and I liked the virtual, global aspect to it. It was definitely a different way to do it, but I think that it would work for a lot of people too.’
Having previously managed a team at Atlas and working across different areas of the business, the management team at Atlas supported Gorb to develop her capabilities and broaden her view of the moving industry further with FIDI’s MiM2.
‘They were on board with me honing some of these skills, getting more experience and a different perspective,’ she says. ‘A lot of other organisations for moving are very US-centric, and I think there is a lot of benefit from the fact FIDI is global.’
Developing a project to implement within your own company is a core part of the MiM2. After discussing four or five possibilities with the company, Gorb chose ‘Operation Transportation’, looking at how to integrate the transport department with the rest of the business to streamline activities.
‘We have a separate transportation team, and the overall idea was bringing it together into operations within the company,’ she says, ‘I had their buy-in very quickly because this idea was the one that lined up well with other things in progress.
‘The idea was to have more control over pricing and profitability and making sure our goals were in line. We had all these operational goals, but transportation was separate and a little disjointed, so we wanted to bring everything together to help reach the targets we have as a company.’
While working with her own company helped define desired outcomes, liaising with the MiM2 tutor helped define a comprehensive framework to achieve them. ‘I sent stuff back before it was due to get feedback and make sure I was on the right path and that the business case made sense,’ she says. ‘It was nice getting outside advice and the feedback really helped me to get it all down in writing.’
During the MiM2, Gorb was able to define a three-stage approach to the project and complete phase one. Having made further progress since the end of the course, she expects to complete the project once the summer period is over. ‘We’re more than half way at this point. The team has been switched, we’ve aligned the goals and are able to provide more reporting and feedback, review our processes and complete this over the winter,’
Of all the learnings she has put into practice both during and since the MiM2 course, Gorb says understanding the effect of using ‘softer skills’ well and working on the team has been the most powerful.
‘We did a few sessions on culture and one of the driving factors to make the change was to improve this among the employees,’ she says. ‘It’s not just about the numbers and the profitability, but it’s also the culture and making a more positive environment and a team that really works together.’
Gorb says these learnings are now informing how she and the business manages the gradual return to the workplace, after many months working at home.
‘I am trying to use what we learned in general about culture shift. This is something that we’re really looking at; how to make it a better environment,’ she says. ‘We’re trying to get people back in the office, which is tough. Once everyone feels safer about that, it’s about rebuilding the culture we had – and I think we can make it even better.’
MiM2: reaping the rewards of staff investment
Laura Hatton, VP of Operations at Atlas World Group, says the company has already seen the benefits of Gorb taking the MiM2 diploma.
She says: ‘The knowledge Ashley was able to obtain as the result of the MiM2 class sessions allowed her to take on an especially important internal company project. She was easily able to identify the need for change, scope the project, set up objectives and measurements, as well as track results.
‘We believe the training provided via the MiM2 classes provided the foundation needed to not only allow for managing the overall project in a timely manner, which was especially important, but also to ensure its success. The results have directly provided the company with both monetary savings through improved gross margins as well as improvement in our customer satisfaction scores.’