Probably not, since storing, obtaining and moving goods from one place to another is not one of the more visible employment areas students consider as they look ahead. But logistics is an area of great importance to everyone. And it offers solid career possibilities.

Logistics is the art and science of managing and controlling the flow of goods, energy, information and other resources like products, services, and people, from the source of production to the marketplace. It is difficult to accomplish any marketing or manufacturing without logistical support. It involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging. The operating responsibility of logistics is the geographical repositioning of raw materials, work in process, and finished inventories where required at the lowest cost possible.

Logistics as a business concept evolved only in the 1950s. This was mainly due to the increasing complexity of supplying one's business with materials and shipping out products in an increasingly globalize supply chain, calling for experts in the field who are called Supply Chain Logisticians. This can be defined as having the right item in the right quantity at the right time at the right place for the right price and is the science of process and incorporates all industry sectors. The goal of logistic work is to manage the fruition of project life cycles, supply chains and resultant efficiencies.

In business, logistics may have either internal focus (inbound logistics), or external focus (outbound logistics) covering the flow and storage of materials from point of origin to point of consumption. The main functions of a logistics manager include Inventory Management, purchasing, transport, warehousing, and the organizing and planning of these activities. Logistics managers combine a general knowledge of each of these functions so that there is a coordination of resources in an organization. There are two fundamentally different forms of logistics. One optimizes a steady flow of material through a network of transport links and storage nodes. The other coordinates a sequence of resources to carry out some project.

A Logistician organizes the safe, efficient movement of goods on behalf of an exporter, importer or another company or person, sometimes including dealing with packing and storage.

Taking into account the type of goods and the customers' delivery requirements, freight forwarders arrange the best means of transport, using the services of shipping lines, airlines or road and rail freight operators. In some cases, the freight forwarding company itself provides the service.

Companies vary in size and type, from those operating on a national and international basis to smaller, more specialized firms, who deal with particular types of goods or operate within particular geographical areas

  • Researching and planning the most appropriate route for a shipment (taking into account of the perishable or hazardous nature of the goods, cost, transit time and security)
  • Arranging appropriate packing (taking into account of climate, terrain, weight, nature of goods and cost) and delivery or warehousing of goods at their final destination;
  • Obtaining, checking and preparing documentation to meet customs and insurance requirements, packing specifications, and compliance with overseas countries' regulations and fiscal regimes;
  • Offering consolidation services by air, sea and road - ensuring cost effective and secure solutions to small shippers with insufficient cargo to utilise their own dedicated units;
  • Liaising with third parties to move goods (by road, rail, air or sea) in accordance with customer requirements;
  • Arranging insurance and assisting the client in the event of a claim;
  • Offering tailored IT solutions and EDI (electronic data interchange) connections;
  • Arranging payment of freight and other charges, or collection of payment on behalf of the client;
  • Transmitting data by internet and satellite systems, enabling real-time tracking and tracing of goods;
  • Arranging air transport for urgent and high-value freight and managing the risk door to door;
  • Arranging charters for large volume, out-of-gauge or project movements by air and sea;
  • Acting as broker in customs negotiations worldwide to guide the freight efficiently through complex procedures;
  • Dealing with special arrangements for transporting delicate cargoes, such as livestock, food, medical supplies and other fragile goods;
  • Arranging courier and specialist hand-carry services;
  • Working closely with customers, colleagues and third parties to ensure smooth operations to deadlines;
  • Maintaining visibility and control through all phases of the journey, including the production of management reports and statistical and unit cost analysis;
  • Acting as consultant in customs matters;
  • Maintaining current knowledge of relevant legislation, political situations and other factors that could affect the movement of freight

As a logistician, students are likely to find job in small – medium –large size enterprises or public bodies like

  • Advisory Agencies
  • Haulage Companies
  • Multi- National Transport Companies
  • Shipping Agencies
  • Shipping Companies
  • Logistics Service Provides
  • Port Ancillary service provides

Career opportunities in logistics continue to grow. Even during downturns in the business cycle, when companies are cutting costs, the demand for able and experienced supply chain managers remains high. Surveys have shown that when other areas of industry have recruited less, recruitment into logistics has not declined.

At a time when logistics is becoming increasingly professional, you will benefit from work-related professional qualifications. The Indian Institute of Logistics, located at Chennai for example, offers a range of Diploma and Advance Diploma in Logistics and Shipping for junior, middle and senior management. Today logistics is becoming a boardroom issue, and companies in every type of industry are seeking people at all levels with the vision and drive to deliver continuous improvement in their supply chains.

Whatever your degree and experience, logistics offers a career that will continually develop your potential and reward your ambition in an ever-changing and challenging global environment. And since the demand for logistics professionals outstrips the supply, there are excellent opportunities for rapid career progression for those with the drive to succeed. Irrespective of your ultimate ambition, careers in logistics offer early responsibility, exciting challenges with good remuneration and opportunities to travel.

We have moved through the ages of finance, production, sales and marketing and are now in the age of information technology. Many predict that the 21st century will be the age of logistics.

Logistics managers in a large retail chain, for example, make sure that all the items to be sold in their stores are transported from their warehouses (or from manufacturers or wholesalers) to each store in their chain. Those in the chemical industry coordinate the shipment of raw materials needed in their plants as well as shipment of the finished products to buyers. A manager in a firm specializing in parcel delivery works with all the details related to receiving, transporting and delivering packages. In virtually every industry, logisticians play a key role.

Logistics managers may also he known as distribution managers. Individual job titles vary, as do responsibilities from one position to another. Here are a few examples:

  • Administrative manager
  • Administrative analyst/planner
  • Customer service manager
  • Inventory control manager
  • Traffic manager
  • Transportation manager
  • Vice President of logistics

Learning by doing is an essential part of building a career in logistics. But after starting in a specific functional area, you could well find yourself working on assignments which will demand high-level analytical skills and the ability to think strategically about the company's or your customer's goals.

Your learning curve will never peak. Career development will involve in-house training covering all essential business skills - from project, people and financial management to IT and environmental awareness. You may be encouraged to study for a professional qualification in logistics or may have the opportunity to study for a higher degree in the discipline.

The Institute recognizes the growing needs across all Industries to connect sources of supply with their markets and provides a range of business support services, research, education and facilities to add value to the industry through efficiencies and innovation in the management of logistics.

The liberalization of Indian economy has led to a great demand for Logistics services. The Indian Logistics market was valued at about USD 14.31 billions (Rs.620.34 millions) in 2004. New companies formed by Indian entrepreneurs are taking advantage of government policies designed to promote greater efficiencies in a sector where large global businesses are yet to make their mark.

Logistics is a management process that lies at the heart of all organizations. Logistics management is a relatively new occupational area that has emerged within the past two decades, though its roots lie in military strategy. Although not as familiar as production, marketing, or finance, for a well-run company logistics is a key function, enabling it to get its products to market

To be a Logistician, one should:

  • Have good spoken and written communication skills
  • Have good mathematical skills
  • Work accurately and pay attention to detail
  • Have computer skills
  • Be able to prioritize your work
  • Be diplomatic
  • Be interested in geography.