With logistics costs constituting 16 to 20 per cent of the national gross domestic product, developing sufficient quality and quantity of logistics personnel is an important issue for Thailand - at both the corporate and the national level. Leading executives and the vice president of the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) shared their perspectives on the development of logistics human resources at a seminar held at the UTCC to announce the opening of a doctorate course in logistics.
Bhanumas Srisukh, managing director of SCG Logistics Management, a subsidiary of Siam Cement Group, said ideal logistics personnel need a culture fit - being patient, hard-working, fact-based and meticulous.
They are also required to have a competency fit, which includes being good at process management and problem-solving, and being able to create value and business modules that serve clients' needs.
"It's difficult, torturous ... I can't turn off my cellphone. I'm on it 24 hours," Bhanumas said. "If you are in sales, you meet the client only once, but logistics people have to meet the clients repeatedly for delivery and to complete document transactions."
However, Bhanumas said, SCG has recruited top-grade people to work in logistics and the firm has recently offered a scholarship for its staff to study logistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of Mitr Phol Group, said opportunities for logistics personnel are good because they can set up their own companies to meet the demand from small businesses that need complete logistics service.
"It involves working with customers and so one can also move to customer service or marketing," he said.
Wanchai Rattanawong, UTCC's vice president, said according to the National Economic and Social Development Board, Thailand requires 170,000 logistics personnel each year.
Many colleges offer logistics courses, but most emphasise on business administration, not engineering.
Wirote Jirattigalachote, deputy secretary general of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said local knowledge is necessary for logistics, so it is a welcome move that UTCC is opening the doctorate course that would train people to design logistics models tailored to the specific needs of local customers.