Considered by many as a career that just involves ‘packing boxes and driving trucks’, the moving industry offers opportunities that include personal and professional development, travel and meeting incredible people. Dominic Weaver speaks to three young movers from around the world about their own reasons for staying in the business
Indira Dzhumasheva, General Manager of Globalink Logistics
Indira Dzhumasheva, General Manager of Globalink Logistics in Kazakhstan, says her early education and desire to travel guided her choice to become a mover.
‘I started my schooling during the Soviet times and speaking a foreign language was considered prestigious,’ she says. ‘I wanted to work in a business sphere where I could meet people from different parts of the world, learn about their cultures and practise my English. My dream came true when I joined Globalink Logistics in 2006 – and l found the removal industry was the right place to fulfil my ambitions and develop myself.’
At this time, the sector was relatively new to Kazakhstan, and Commonwealth of Independent States in general. Joining one of the region’s pioneers
– which was in the process of growing from around 200 staff to 2,000 today – gave Dzhumasheva ‘not only a job, but an outstanding school’. She took part in FIDI Academy courses including the EiM (Essentials in Moving seminar) and various webinars and says that, after 16 years, she is still learning.
‘Education is constant, one can never be qualified enough to know everything,’ she says. ‘The market is changing continuously. New technologies are being introduced every day. Customer expectations are growing and our industry must evolve with the times.’
Dzhumasheva hopes to see FIDI evolve, too, and meet the next generation of employees’ ‘non-traditional educational expectations’. These expectations include a more short-term view of job seeking.
‘During Soviet times, people used to look for jobs for a lifetime,’ she says. ‘My mother was in teaching for more than 35 years and never imagined changing career. However, things have changed; service demand is relatively high, and people want to learn different skills for growth in their careers.’
With Generation Y and ‘most of Generation Z’ more selective about the work they do and demanding much more flexibility, with remote options in particular, Dzhumasheva has this advice for young movers: ‘Find the right balance between hard work and smart work. The moving industry is all about meeting people, learning cultures, and developing people’s skills – and remote work won’t give us the opportunities to achieve it all.’
Continual self-development opportunities – in people skills, customer service and communications in particular – are certainly provided as an inherent part of modern moving businesses, she says. They also offer the people focus and international scope demanded as standard by many younger potential recruits.
Indeed, it is this that has kept Dzhumasheva in this business for so long – something she never could have imagined back in 2006. ‘Having spent 16 years in the moving industry, I am proud of my profession and know I can further develop myself.
I feel honoured to be part of the FIDI family because it helped me to grow my career. Now that I have experience, I can grow my business unit further – and have a great time doing it.’
José Joaquín Pena, Executive Manager, Mercovan Argentina
José Joaquín Pena, Executive Manager at Mercovan Argentina, says his entry into the moving business four years ago happened by chance.
‘I had been travelling for a year and a friend of my family was looking for someone to work for Mercovan, so I returned home and started in the moving industry,’ he says. ‘I didn’t have any idea about what happened behind these moves.’
Throughout the business, young employees have the prospect of working with a range of people, including clients, customers, agents, customs, maritime lines, unions, and people in every country, he says. ‘This is really challenging and such a great opportunity,’ he says.
Joaquín is now actively pushing for both Mercovan and the wider industry to take more advantage of technological advances that have transformed other sectors. ‘The world is going forward with new technologies for every aspect in the world – AI, blockchain, crypto, online marketing and so on – and the moving industry needs to progress in this area, too,’ he says.
In a world where companies need to sell themselves to candidates rather than the other way around, Mercovan has also adapted to accommodate new demands for flexibility, benefits, a comfortable environment and remote work. Accordingly, says Joaquín, the business is working with an HR agency to help it recruit staff – but also retain them once they are on board, with a plan to keep staff motivated, feeling part of a team, and focused on clear goals.
So, is this a career for life? At this early stage in his working life and with new job roles appearing all the time, Joaquín isn’t sure yet. But he says it’s a possibility – and he certainly believes it is a fantastic place for anyone to start. ‘Even if people haven’t heard of relocation and moving services, I would recommend that they take the risk,’ he says. ‘They will not regret it.’
Ryan Gibbons, Chief Operating Officer, Biddulphs
As a fourth-generation member of 94-year-old Pretoria-based family mover Biddulphs, COO Ryan Gibbons says the industry is in his DNA.
Great memories of dinner table conversations with his father about the company and his first working experiences washing trucks in the yard with a powerful pressure washer set his career path early on.
After returning from studies overseas, he started in the business full time in 2009, working in the shipping, cross-border and local removals departments.
He says: ‘This industry is amazing and there are new challenges each and every day, which I enjoy. No two days are the same, so you are never bored working in one area of the business.
‘I work alongside some really interesting and knowledgeable people who have so much experience and so many stories to tell. Some of my mentors in our company have been with us for more than 40 years – and one for 57 years – which helps you know where to turn if there are issues you have never encountered before.
‘Relocation has so many facets to it, including the clients we move and their backgrounds – you really become a part of their story in assisting with their relocations. Being a part of FIDI also enables you to deal with global organisations and travel abroad to meet agents, which is a great way to learn and grow within yourself.’
While this offers much of what potential employees are looking for today, Gibbons – taking inspiration from his experience working abroad – is keen for the company to play its part in driving diversity within tomorrow’s South African businesses.
‘We certainly could do with more female involvement in Africa,’ he says. ‘There are not enough female truck drivers, for example. We have recently taken on five women on a learnership to integrate them into our industry to drive our vehicles to and from the customer.’
Gibbons says that while the company has recently seen growth in the number of people willing to try different roles, finding staff with the right attitude and who fit in with the culture remains a challenge. The company has tackled this by working with recruits to offer clear pathways for self-development.
Far from being restricted to the stereotypical ‘boxes and trucks’ job, moving provides a spectrum of niches for ambitious recruits to find fulfilment for the long term, says Gibbons. ‘Many come through our doors to work in one area and soon realise that there is potential to grow into other roles – moving from sales to operations, for example.
‘We always strive for our employees to push the boundaries in setting a new normal standard. Opportunities don’t happen, you have to create them, and that is what we try to achieve at our company – to give things a try… even if it scares you.’