Veselina Peteva: A good freight forwarder is like a good gamer

This is Veselina Peteva, our HR. For us, she is Vesi and we thank her for the always positive mood with which she charges each new working day. Vesi talked to colleagues from Manager magazine about what it's like to be a freight forwarder, about Santa Claus, why we give way to the young and about a few other not less important things in life.

See Vesi through the eyes of one of our favorite publications, and you can see the interview published on the website of Manager magazine - colleagues, thank you.

The forwarding profession is yet to become more and more familiar, and therefore more in demand. For now, the market is rather closed, with more supply, but that will change soon. Here are just some of the predictions, but also the goals of Veselin Peteva, HR manager at SIKO, one of the serious and responsible players on the forwarding market in our country. She has been working in the field of Human Resources for 15 years, and her experience before becoming part of the SIKO family includes the dynamic financial sector (DSK, MFG, Easy Credit) and fin tech companies (Smart IT). Freight forwarding is a profession or a trade, gamers or freight forwarders are more talented and how talents are cultivated today - said Veselina Peteva.

Is this a joke on gamers, not that it won't make a great title?

It's not a joke and I'm glad it's a title because the word gamer will probably attract more people than a shipper.

Now seriously – what is the connection, what is it like to be a freight forwarder and how do you become one?

I'm still not kidding. (laughs) And I allow myself to make this analogy, not only because it is true, but also because through it we will really speak to more people. Which, if we go back only ten years ago, would have been impossible - gaming, IT, fintech were not "professions", and now we are seen from every second billboard. I think that very soon the same thing awaits the forwarding profession. Which, frankly, I prefer to call craft. It doesn't sound so modern, but a good forwarder has mastered and combined to perfection the mastery of both a good communicator and a good marketer. Being a freight forwarder is very much about that symbiosis. It sounds simple, but, in fact, it is a combination of dozens and diverse qualities that develop over time, and with experience, a person also accumulates the necessary knowledge. Being a good freight forwarder means knowing very well both sides of the coin you are handling - both the customer and the carrier. To be able to put yourself in the shoes of both. And in the end, both of them are satisfied. And how does one become one? Just like in gaming, with a lot of patience and discipline, with the desire to become better after each subsequent case, to know and skilfully use your strengths and be ready to develop your weaker ones, not to give up.

We recently read an interview on your site with 11th grade students who are studying with you, and one of the questions was "How would you explain to a 5-year-old what a freight forwarder-logistics does?" - what's your answer ?

Imagine you ordered Santa a Spider-Man who actually shoots webs. To get to you, it has to travel all the way from Lapland to Bulgaria, when hundreds of thousands of other Christmas parcels are travelling at that time, the cargo is both very valuable and a little special. Even if winter surprises us, the shipment should arrive, but one of the deer is slightly sick, and another threatens not to work this year, there are only 3 free air corridors, and on the same street where you live, there are 19 more children who within the same minute will be expecting their presents from Santa Claus. Well, the shipper is the one who will make sure that the white-bearded old man comes to your door just when you expect him, that you get your gift safe and sound, that he remembers your name, and that you have time for a quick selfie. And now I wondered if Santa isn't, in fact, the best shipper in the world, juggling between his lovable gnomes in the workshop and all the children eagerly awaiting him, unique in that he delivers himself?!

Does this mean that the main quality to be a good freight forwarder is multitasking?

I'd like to say yes, to keep it short. But I have a feeling that this word is increasingly devoid of meaning and we use it when there is nothing else to say. A good freight forwarder knows how to communicate with people. Which as a person makes him empathetic and a good mediator. He has the ability to store a lot of information in his memory and knows at the right moment what is the exact piece he needs. Which makes him competent. He has attention to detail, but at the same time he is a master of good organisation and can make the most appropriate decisions at the moment if the situation requires it. Which makes it adaptable. Some people are born with some of these qualities and abilities, while others develop with experience and time.

It sounds like we are full of such people around us - it is ingrained in our folk psychology that we are capable, knowledgeable, helpful, caring. Is that correct? What are today's challenges in recruiting such personnel - the future good freight forwarders?

First of all, the unrecognizability of the very work of a forwarder. And what's more – what a long-term investment choosing such a career path is. And like any other professional path, if you go through it with a desire to learn and become better than those who teach you, you can't help but move forward, find more and more satisfaction in what you do and last but not least to develop as a person as well. Because the main qualities that are key for a freight forwarder are no less key for positive communication between people and on a personal level - with friends, family, children, neighbours, with everyone around us. Therefore, at SIKO, one of the main missions of the company as such is to change the environment for the better. And discovering talents and people with potential is like everywhere else - it requires time and patience. But when you find them, there is nothing better than to find out 10 years later that this person is still in the company, or that already in his second year he has contributed something significant to its development.

Isn't it an HR cliché to believe in the young and that everywhere they give way?​​

For SIKO, I can certainly say that it is not. I myself did not believe that the voice of the young generation was important in such a company. Of course, to come to this conclusion, you've suffered the growing pains and fear of letting the more inexperienced into management after it's something you've created yourself. But in recent years, SIKO has followed a path whose fruits are already a fact - it maintains a team that challenges itself and surpasses itself on a daily basis. Regardless of who is in what position. Most of the shareholders today started from the lowest position and this is an option for anyone who has the qualities and drive to take on this responsibility. One of our latest innovations - our mobile application SIKO app, is an idea of one of our employees, for the realisation of which the management put all their heart and considerable resources, but the result is there - SIKO is the only company in the industry that pays its carriers the most - late up to 28 days, and from December the application will also provide the "Quick payment" option, which will be an absolute precedent for Bulgarian forwarding.

What would you say to recent graduates?

We have a huge commitment and rather a debt to you. And not only as a company, but also as an industry. A handful of students in the several vocational high schools and students in specific specialities in higher educational institutions know what forwarding is and what the forwarder does. But now everyone knows what PR or developer is. And that comes from the business itself. At SIKO, we launched our education program "Education with a future" to support dual education in Bulgaria, and very soon we will also renew our meetings with higher education institutions, and this time we will be looking for a meeting with the mass audience, and not only with students from specific specialities. I believe that this is the key to opening up the labor market in our industry - to break the clichés and tell more places about us. Which, in the end, will lead to the better development of this same branch. Forwarder is not a bad word, it's up to you to be in the fast lane!

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