James Fairhurst is among the first NOVUS Logistics and Supply Chain graduates from the University of Huddersfield.
In August 2016, he started his promised guaranteed job, having accepted the offer of a key role at one of the UK’s biggest third party logistics companies, Wincanton, working on the contract of a major manufacturer.
“I feel I wouldn’t be in the job I am now had it not been for the support of NOVUS,” says James. “I could have done a similar course but I certainly wouldn’t have got this job. How I’ve developed as a person and the opportunities that have opened up through NOVUS are invaluable – that’s showing itself now in my career.”
James describes his NOVUS degree as a great experience. “I’ve learned an awful lot,” he said. “Going into industry makes you realise just how beneficial everything that you learn on the NOVUS course is, because it’s not just theory-based – there’s a lot of industry-focused practical projects and course work.
For example, one of my coursework pieces involved applying to a tender as a third party logistics (3PL) operator. That was a really useful experience to take into the work environment, because, even if you might not be doing exactly the same thing, you still get exposure to this aspect of the business and gain an understanding of how it operates.”
James worked at Wincanton during the work experience placement year of his degree course, which is a fundamental part of the NOVUS scheme. “I got to travel up and down the country to various Wincanton sites and had the opportunity to gain exposure to many different customers, expanding my knowledge even further.”
Despite having opportunities elsewhere after James successfully graduated during the summer, he was keen to accept a job offer back at Wincanton. “Part of the reason I took this job is that it gave me the chance to continue my learning. I’m still keen to learn and develop and I want to be an asset for the company I work for.”
What led James into logistics and supply chain? “Although I was aware of the industry and what it did, my actual understanding was quite limited.” It was through his geography A-level and speaking to a careers advisor that James saw the career potential of logistics and supply chain. “Not wishing to do a Geography degree, I looked into opportunities within logistics because that was the thing in geography that really interested me. It was definitely the right choice for me and I wouldn’t have done anything differently in hindsight.”
James’ employer, James Tooze, is a General Manager at Wincanton who leads a team of 130 colleagues at the Hams Hall National Distribution Centre in Warwickshire. He is closely involved with NOVUS, not only as an employer of a full-time graduate, but also as an employer of a work experience student over the summer, as a mentor to NOVUS students at the University of Huddersfield, and he also plays a role in the course assessments.
As an employer, Tooze believes the NOVUS experience stands out. “It offers students a refreshing perspective and exposure to the next level of theory. NOVUS students also meet people in the industry that other students wouldn’t have access to. Then there is the advantage of the breadth of skills and training acquired on the work placement. I think that getting on the NOVUS scheme is a really positive move for anybody who is interested in logistics and supply chain to make.”
“Even as we move towards more automation, logistics will remain a people business and there needs to be a real emphasis on both personal leadership and the management of others. It’s important to be technically competent and know what you are doing, but what’s most valuable is being able to get the most out of others and being able to manage change – because we are always changing in logistics.”
Like other employers in the sector, Tooze sees a challenge when it comes to finding future management talent for the industry. “It is very important that we continue to cultivate managers from our existing teams of operators on the warehouse floor. However, this takes time, a certain type of training, and having an entire management team comprised of people who have worked their way up from the warehouse floor can limit levels of diversity in perspective and approach within a team.
NOVUS makes people ready for that first step into management a lot earlier and offers candidates whose thought rocesses and approaches are very different. I am pleased to have added somebody to the team who can be challenged and taken out of the comfort zone they had been used to in university.
Employers also benefit from a committed recruit. “We had a graduate coming to work on our site through an alternative avenue who stayed just six months. Being on the NOVUS scheme, however, means that you have made a solid decision to go into logistics.”
Tooze looks forward to continuing his involvement in NOVUS. “It’s been a fantastic programme – we’d like to see it spread out to more universities as our industry needs it.”
Following its commitment to increasing engagement with graduates through participation in the NOVUS scheme, Wincanton has recently launched a new graduate scheme with the aim of attracting and developing new talent in the logistics industry.
Designed to give participants insight into logistics and the variety of roles available in the industry, the two-year graduate programme will enable participants to hit the ground running and make a positive impact on day one.
Jane Davies, Wincanton Group’s HR Director, says: “Logistics is fundamentally a people business. Despite this the industry has, in the past, struggled to demonstrate its appeal as a career option to new graduates and aspiring management talent. With our new graduate scheme in place, combined with the NOVUS partnership, we are changing the perception of the logistics sector and are finding that we are able to attract new talent into our business. We are proud that we can offer a programme of development for our graduates and future talent, as well as exciting career opportunities.”
Wincanton, Arla, Muller, DHL, CEVA Logistics, asos, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Smiths News, PZ Cussons and Hoyer are just some of the 25 NOVUS sponsor companies giving NOVUS students work experience and placements. And, of course, every successful NOVUS graduate is guaranteed a job. To find out more about NOVUS, email: [email protected] or tel: 01484 471852 or visit: www.novus.uk.com