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Interview questions for Alistair Wood

Peter Simmonds of Michael Page Logistics, interviewed Alistair Wood, head of logistics at Regatta. Alistair discusses his career history, the challenges Regatta are facing and shares advice on entering the logistics industry.

Tell us a bit about your career up until you were placed as head of logistics at Regatta.

After completing my degree in statistics, I became a class 1 lorry driver! My father advised me to enter a profession where education was scarce, therefore giving me a competitive advantage in the sector. I also studied for a degree in Transport in my early days to give me industry credibility. My interest in anything automotive helped too.
I have moved up through the ranks of transport and warehousing and relocated around the UK a number of times to further my career within logistics.
I worked for Coca-Cola, Scholastic Publications, Unisys and Scottish & Newcastle in my early career and held director level roles at Lyreco & Fraikin prior to my appointment at Regatta.

What advice would you give to someone as they progress their career in logistics?

Study for professional qualifications, be prepared to move within the UK and internationally and don’t limit yourself to one industry sector. It’s important to have diversity on your CV. I have worked for family-owned companies and multinational organisations, gaining exposure to different cultures and processes, which helped me to become a more rounded logistics professional.
Don’t be afraid of getting it wrong (within reason, of course). It’s important to put yourself in situations where success is not guaranteed and learn from your mistakes.

What have you focused on since joining Regatta?

I was recruited to develop a world class international logistics centre in Ellesmere Port. I have consolidated a number of in-house sites and 3PL locations into the one 650,000 square foot site. We facilitate all orders from our stores, other retailers, wholesalers and e-commerce sites, ordered both nationally and internationally.
I joined Regatta in July 2011 and the final brand will be relocated to Ellesmere Port this summer. The new site is will officially open in mid-March by Bear Grylls.

What future issues does the industry face?

Keeping up with changing legislation within the UK and Europe will continue to be a challenge.
CSR (corporate social responsibility) and environmental factors will be an increased focus with new European legislation around emissions, access restrictions to town centres etc. The logistics industry needs to attract the best young talent and be an industry of choice if it is to develop and keep up with these changes.

What skills or attributes do you look for when hiring new team members?

At Regatta we hire people based on their ability around three core competences: entrepreneurism, the ability to form good relationships (both internal and external) with a distinct health and safety focus. We look for people who can demonstrate these attributes throughout their career, together with strong customer focus.

How do you measure the success of your logistics team?

1) Financially – cost as a percentage of sales
2) Service levels – operational KPIs
3) As an employer - Participation within industry awards, employment surveys (Best Companies etc) together with external audits, e.g. health and safety.

What has been your biggest challenge in your career to date?

The last two and a half years at Regatta. Creating and leading a world class distribution centre from both an operational and cultural point of view has been a huge challenge.
The centre needed to fully engage colleagues and deliver dynamic service levels in line with our customers’ requirements and changing needs globally.
For any logistics recruitment needs, contact Peter Simmonds at Michael Page Logistics.
T: +44 114 263 6024