The work of a freight forwarder is international

Learning new things all the time 

Carine Flocco from Kokkola has worked for Backman-Trummer as a forwarder for a year. Prior to that, she had time to spend twenty years in the United States and Britain. Flocco returned to her home region with her American husband and three teenage children because Kokkola suits their family’s living situation well. In addition to the location, I was especially interested in the international nature of the work, listed in the freight forwarder job advertisement. 

  • ’It’s nice that after returning to Finland, I can still use my language skills and meet people from all over the world,’ says Flocco.

Backman-Trummer has both export and import forwarders. Flocco’s job is to arrange import transports. Especially short sea transports are commonplace. The tasks include planning and organizing transport and customs clearance. The most important tool is email. It is used to receive customer orders and communicate with suppliers. Everything that is possible to is planned in advance, but almost half of the day is spent working on tasks that can’t be prepared for. So, keeping up is important, and in addition to accuracy and care, flexibility is needed. You must be able to react quickly to sudden situations. In addition to language skills, customer service is a plus. 

  • ‘The customer’s wishes and needs must be identified in order to be able to respond to them,’ Flocco says. ‘For example, the mode of transport is significantly affected by whether the customer prioritizes a quick schedule or the cheapest price.’ 

Flocco praises how time flies by at a versatile job. The best aspects of the job include a good working community and the fact that employees are listened to. The advantage of days working on site is being able to meet colleagues face-to-face, so that help is also nearby if needed. After a year, there is still a lot to learn, and new situations come up almost every day. A business graduate who is interested in continuing education and is completing her master’s degree in business administration at the University of Vaasa finds learning new things to be an interesting aspect of her work. Flocco has been able to study, among other things, the maritime transport of dangerous goods. In the future, she wants to continue studying her field even more and perhaps at some point integrate her economics studies into her work. 

Flocco, who enjoys exercise, cycles to work when the season permits. In her spare time, she goes jogging and to the gym and enjoys dancing.  

  • ‘The employer offers incentive benefits, which, in addition to gym passes, I can use to get theatre and concert tickets,’ Flocco says. ‘I also appreciate the lunch and massage benefits.’ 


The work of a freight forwarder is international 

Customer-service work 

Kati Härmälä had worked in the field of trade for fourteen years, when a change of field started to feel timely in January of last year. Having studied in the UK and worked in Sweden and the Netherlands, Härmälä has always been interested in both international work and logistics, and so the position of freight forwarder that was open in her home region seemed like a suitable solution.  

  • ’I enjoy communicating in different languages,’ says Härmälä. ‘My mother tongue is Swedish, my second native language is Finnish, and since the first day of my working career, I have used English as my working language.’ 

Härmälä works for Backman-Trummer as an export forwarder. She makes sure that shipments moving both by sea and by land arrive at their destination on time. Sea containers are sent all over the world. Trailers move mainly to EU countries, Turkey, and Great Britain. In addition to accuracy and care, a forwarder benefits from having a social nature, because in addition to shipping companies, she is in daily contact with customers.   

  • ’I act as the customer’s voice in the process,’ says Härmälä. ‘Customer satisfaction is the most important thing at work.’ 

Härmälä could not imagine when she started as a freight forwarder all that the work would entail. 

  • ’I was positively surprised at how versatile the work of a forwarder is,’ says Härmälä thankfully.  

The assignment may include, for example, the delivery of a container to Chile. The forwarder handles the collection, loading and transport of the container to the destination port together with the shipping company and the transport company.

Most of the cases, the recipient takes care of transporting the container from the port onwards, but sometimes Härmälä manages the delivery all the way to the destination. The goods to be transported can be anything from raw materials to finished products. Sometimes there is time to take care of the transport in peace, but most of the time there is a rush. 

  • ‘It is especially the case in road transport that situations may arise where the transport must begin immediately,’ Härmälä says. ‘Therefore, a forwarder must have the ability to withstand pressure.’ 

One needs to be able to withstand pressure even in constantly changing situations. Advance plans can be renewed, for example, when the shipping company changes its schedules. A systematic approach makes it easier, and, according to Härmälä, a calendar is a forwarder’s best friend. 

In addition to delivery conditions, the job of a forwarder involves getting to know various documents – such as waybills and export declarations. The industry is changing rapidly, and it is important to stay up to date. Härmälä praises the approach to training taken by her employer.  

  • ‘My goal is to take on this job well and develop my own skills,’ says Härmälä. ‘It’s easy here, because there are many different training opportunities available.’ 

Härmälä’s free time is spent with her husband, two teenage daughters, and taking care of her family home. Her first real summer vacation in ages is coming soon.