Elena Prikhodko is not only a teacher of MADI - one of the leading Russian universities for the preparation of professional logistics managers, but also the head of Petite Logist. Elena has more than 10 years of experience in managing transportation companies in Russia and China and is the author of a number of articles devoted to training in logistics, the prospects for the development of Russian-Chinese relations. These topics are being actively discussed and worried not only by people involved directly in the field of supply chain management, but also by representatives of other business sectors, such as warehouse real estate, retail, and e-commerce.
The focus of our conversation is the situation with the training of specialists, accessibility, quality and relevance of education, as well as a look at the general trends of logistics in Russia and abroad.
- How do you assess the preparedness of specialists in logistics companies? Answer this question both as a teacher and as a potential employer.
As a teacher, I highly appreciate her training of young specialists in the university. But as an employer, I understand that more is required of graduates, and universities do not teach this. The employer always wants a graduate to come to a low salary, be able to do everything and have five years of work experience. But each company has its own specifics, its own nuances, which need to be trained in the process, so it’s impossible to prepare an ideal employee for all. In this situation, the university can only reformulate the program to give more practice, focus on transportation or warehousing, but it will still be common practices that are not suitable for every company. At the institute, students receive only the necessary baggage.
- And if in shares, how much percent of knowledge does a specialist receive at the institute, and how much should he get at the workplace?
Unfortunately, the ratio here is about 20/80. That is, 20% - the knowledge gained at the university, and the remaining 80% - learning in the process. This is due to the complexity of the subject. Logistics is so extensive that in any case, the company will teach the employee, nowhere to go.
- How do you rate the existing level of competence of people working in the field of logistics? Let's compare.
There is a question to compare with what? If you recall 2008, when I started working in this area, now the level of qualification, of course, has improved. First, universities began to give more logistics, in many institutions this discipline appeared. And secondly, in 10 years, transport, warehousing and other sectors related to supply chains have received strong development. In addition, people now have the opportunity to study abroad, including through online courses, that is, without leaving the country. Therefore, we can say that the level of specialists rises year by year.
If to compare with other countries, then in Europe, supply chain management is more structured, systemicity is developed. Our market is younger, and in my opinion the system has not yet been developed. Perhaps my colleagues think differently, but I believe that we need to grow up to consistency.
- And in the East, how is this in China?
In China it is a very interesting situation. The warehouses related to Russian-Chinese cooperation, which I saw in China, are less qualitative than in Russia. However, the international companies that are represented there build warehouse facilities of a high technological level, and here you can compare China with Europe.
As for education, in China it is no better than ours. Russian education wins in many moments. Communicating with specialists studying in the east, I often get feedback on the level of training.
- How widespread is logistic education in the regions of Russia now and how much is it available?
Large universities throughout Russia, with the exception of Sakhalin and Kamchatka, are taught logistics. Logistics education is provided by transport universities (railway, mostly) that exist not only in Moscow, but in the Far East and Kaliningrad, ensuring normal coverage and geographical accessibility. As for material affordability, this is a question rather to applicants, whether they have the ability to pay or the ability to get into a budget place, and there are such places in large universities.
The cost of training is now an average of 200 thousand rubles per semester.
- What trends could you note now in the global and Russian logistics?
In Russia, I see a trend towards the consolidation of companies. But this is the impact of the crisis; small companies find it difficult to withstand competition in a tense economic situation. Unfortunately, the crisis of 2014 affected our industry, although it was considered the most stable.
There is still an interesting trend in education. Companies are ready to enter the market not only as logisticians, but also as educational projects. I see that many companies launch their own educational programs for both their employees and outside listeners.
There is a trend towards digitalization and robotization, but this is a trend of very large companies. Average companies won’t stand such innovations financially. Because robots, drones, automation are expensive. These trends sound very beautiful, and for advertising you can, for example, make a video where the drone flies through the warehouse, but it is very difficult to launch in large quantities. At the same time, robotization exists among large international companies present in our market, but even in this case examples of the introduction of technology in foreign affiliates are more well known.
- What about digitalization of information flows?
By the way, informational flows are what we have digitized to the maximum, because in large warehouses, WMS is already installed almost everywhere. Almost every company has tracking of deliveries, that is, the level of software is quite high, but so far nothing has gone further.
The companies have tracking on the cars, if it is freight, sea and rail transport are also monitored. For example, Russian Railways has its own special program to which you need to connect. Monitoring, WM- and TM- systems software, electronic document management, planning programs are no longer trends; their use has become the rule.
- Not only among large companies.
Yes, not only. Now it is widespread among small companies, so it’s not entirely relevant to talk about automating information flows as a trend. This is not a wow effect, but something that just should be. In modern conditions, it will be difficult for companies to compete without well-functioning automated work with data. People get tired, make mistakes, and the program with a correctly written algorithm does not get tired and does not make mistakes. In addition, it is cheaper to buy a program once, than to keep staff in an office.
- How did the requirements for the employees of logistics companies change over the past 10 years?
10 years ago, logistic education was not a prerequisite. Only the largest companies paid attention to this point in the summary. Now higher education in the field of logistics is found among the requirements more and more often. It was easier to move into logistics from the related field. For example, from the economy and the sphere of translation, because the priority was knowledge of English. Now this is not a priority, because it is self-evident. But the advantage of the applicant is either experience, established bases, or special education. In general, the requirements have become tougher, because the market is developing, and there are already specialists with extensive experience, language skills, and education. This is a good trend!
- Will the requirements change in the foreseeable future?
First of all, the changes will be in the direction of improving quality. If higher education is now required, then in addition to this, special courses may be required. But there will be no fundamental changes. It is not worth waiting for the next ten years that the skills of building robots will become mandatory for work in the field of logistics. Although, I would like to be wrong. If we talk about knowledge of languages, then certificates will be required, that is, not an elementary school level, but spoken or working English. May require programming skills. In any case, the requirements for using a computer will grow exactly.
- While you were speaking, I was still waiting for one of the new requirements to become knowledge of the Chinese language.
No, I won't say that. Do you know why? Because Chinese had to be taught five years ago! It is too late now, because China is at such a level of development that we no longer need it.
Alexander Perfilyev, Skladium managing partner: “In the logistics industry, most of the current leaders are those who have come to the logistics from various fields and many of them do not have a university education logistics.
Just 10-15 years ago, the institutes were not taught logistics and supply chain management. Therefore, most of the logistics directors have graduated from technical colleges, and have received logistical specialization from practice, as well as attending various courses and studying literature.Many of them subsequently completed the MBA program both in logistics and in other areas.
At the same time, logistics develops and enters our life more and more. Over the years, many universities have introduced the direction of logistics into their program and more and more graduate graduate logistics specialists. Therefore, employers, even to the initial position, prefer specialists with diplomas from leading universities. I think that when applying for a job in a logistics company, a graduate of a specialized university or faculty clearly has advantages over other applicants.”