Freight Forwarder Vs Supply Chain Professional – What To Choose?

In our first episode of ‘The marine insight Show”, We have one of the most influential personalities in the freight and logistic industry, Mr. Hariesh Manaadiar who is the author of, a niche resource in the shipping and freight sector providing high-quality content and knowledge to the industry since 2008.

We asked him 10 to-the-point questions to help you understand the difference between a Freight Forwarder and Supply Chain Executive.

How to become one? What do they do? and many more.

Watch the video below:

Here is the snapshot of the Q&A Session

  1. Can you briefly let’s know who is a freight forwarder and a supply chain professional and what do they do?

In simple terms, a freight forwarder is a multifunction agent, who undertakes to handle the movement of goods from Point A to Point B on behalf of the owner of the goods. A freight forwarder is a very important and integral part of the whole supply chain.

A supply chain professional, on the other hand, is someone who is involved in the management of the supply chain. To elaborate, there are several components involved in the movement of goods from Point A to Point B. Shipping, Freight, Maritime, Logistics are a few of the components. Supply Chain is the whole granddaddy process comprising of all aspects in a product cycle, for example, from picking of the fruit at a farm in Point A to delivering the fruit to the shelf at a store in Point B, using all of the components mentioned.

  1. If someone is interested, how one can become a Freight forwarder? What is the qualification requirement?

While there is no “formal education” expected or required for someone to be a Freight Forwarder, there are many aspects involved in someone becoming a freight forwarder or starting a business as a freight forwarder. It also depends on the countries, like for example in the USA, you have to be licenced and registered with the FMC to be a freight forwarder whereas in some other countries you just need to be registered as a business with the government and follow their tax regulations.

But having said this, becoming a freight forwarder requires in-depth knowledge of various requirements of the business including regulatory requirements, knowledge of trade requirements like the Incoterms, Trade Agreements, Risk and Liability, Dangerous goods information and legal requirements.

  1. How can someone become a Supply chain professional? What is the qualification requirement?

Similarly, there is no “formal education” or qualification expected or required for someone to be a Supply Chain Professional. But the whole process of supply chain management is quite complicated and it would be in the person’s interest to be educated in this field before terming themselves as a supply chain professional as it does hold a certain value in the business.

  1. Where are the available institutions? What are job prospects? How are vacancies advertised or where one can look for them? Can you throw some light

For someone interested in learning about Freight Forwarding and becoming a freight forwarder eventually, a lot of the freight forwarding associations in various countries have their own qualifications such as a Diploma in Freight Forwarding. There are also addon courses like the Incoterms courses which are offered by the International Chamber of Commerce and many local organizations in various countries.

For someone interested in learning to become a Supply Chain Professional there are courses offered by the likes of Association for Supply Chain Management whose Certified Supply Chain Professional program is quite valuable. The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport offers  

  1. Are there any opportunities in this line specifically for seafarers? How can seafarers enter this field? Can it be beneficial for them? 

Of course, there are opportunities in this line for seafarers. In some cases, it may be a good option for them because they have the physical experience of moving the cargo and seeing the issues first hand with all the cargo operations, how the various types of cargoes are handled, what issues are faced by the various ports or shipping lines or customers because some documentation is not right. For example, they can see first hand the issues due to misdeclaration or non-declaration of hazardous goods. So these primers would make them good candidates with experience when they start a shore-based job. 

  1. If one has to make a career choice between Freight forwarder and a Supply chain professional, which has more potential or opportunities and why?

It is very difficult to say as to which one has more potential or opportunities because each of these roles deals with different aspects of the whole industry with a few overlaps of course. It all depends on what the interested party wants to do and in which direction they wish to grow. Supply Chain Professional, of course, has the option to involve in all areas of the supply chain including procurement, planning etc whereas the Freight Forwarder works more closely with the clients and the various entities involved in the movement of the goods so their work is a bit more intense. 

  1. What are the future prospects?

The future is definitely bright for the industry because this is something that the world cannot live without. This is being displayed currently with the COVID-19 pandemic as the industry people are considered an essential service all over the world and there are calls from all corners of the world to allow the supply chain to continue without hindrance.

There will be a definite advantage to those who are technologically inclined and are able to understand the concepts of the industry and link it to their technical knowledge as there will be a big demand for such candidates.

  1. What kind of lifestyle/salary/security etc. can a person expect in this field?

While I cannot comment on salaries as they are all different all over the world, if you have the right knowledge, expertise and experience, job security should not be an issue as the world needs us. No amount of digitalisation is going to put us out of jobs (at least in the near future). But be prepared to work hard because it is hard work. Be prepared for a lifestyle of late nights, later nights stretching into the early mornings, weekends, public holidays etc.  As part of this dynamic industry we could be on call all the time, so be ready. 

10. How does a person grow and move forward in this field?

Dedication, passion, interest and the drive. These are the most important. Learn from everywhere and everything. From the driver in the warehouse to the COO, from the picker and packer on the warehouse floor to the logistics planners, from the container packer to the salesperson selling the products, learn everything. 

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight.

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About Author

An ardent sailor and a techie, Anish Wankhede has voyaged on a number of ships as a marine engineer officer. He loves multitasking, networking, and troubleshooting. He is the one behind the unique creativity and aesthetics at Marine Insight.

One Comment

  1. Hi Anish, thank you for the opportunity for this Q&A.. It is a good initiative from your end.. Keep up the good work..

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