Representing a nation

After being awarded the Young Professional of the Year Award at the CILT National Excellence in Transport and Logistics Award in Australia, Urszula Kelly, Managing Director at UC Logistics has been representing Australia on a global platform around the world.

While in Poland representing Australia at The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s international convention, Urszula took time out of her busy schedule to speak with LMH about her journey to where she is today and why she is passionate about safety and the Chain of Responsibility.

Starting out

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Urszula was a Polish immigrant to Australia in 2012, after launching her career in logistics in the UK in 2007. Initially working in a supportive role in the logistics industry, Urszula looked for a more direct role within the logistics industry and as she says became hooked and has never looked back.

Her first logistics role was administration support for Liquid Logistics. In 2008 to 2011 Urszula was the Transport Coordinator for Gerber Juice, while in this role Urszula facilitated timely scheduling and monitoring of deliveries with national and international clients, including extensive liaison with the materials planning department, accounts, warehouses, production and laboratories.

After this position, Urszula worked for Robert Wiseman Dairies as a Distribution Supervisor. Here she managed the picking and loading of up to 60 deliveries daily for key clients. She managed a team of 40 staff and oversaw all compliance and safety obligations, including inspections, reporting, corrective actions and continuous improvement initiatives.

A move Down Under

After making the decision to move to Australia, it took Urszula three days to find a job. She began her career here by working for a family owned business in Western Australia as a Project and Contract Coordinator. In this role, her key responsibilities included client liaison, management of relevant legislative requirements and safety obligations as well as oversight and effective collaboration of subcontractors to ensure adherence to corporate policies and procedures.

“This was a great first role in Australia, it was a small family business and the people were fantastic. There was so many opportunities to grow,” Urszula said. However, as the business owned the trucks and trailers, there was often more demand than the company could provide for. With this in mind, Urszula decided to start her own business. “I thought to myself, how can I make a business model to accommodate these needs?,” Urszula asked.

She had the vision of creating a business that could always provide, however big the demand and soon recognised that she couldn’t do this by buying all the trucks she needed. Instead, she created UC Logistics, now a leading third-party logistics provider in Western Australia. “The difference is, we don’t have to go around buying the trucks and trailers, we can engage someone else’s services for that depending on the demand,” Urszula explains.

UC Logistics started in November 2015 and early on established two major mining contractors as its primary point of contact for all transport requirements

Soon after, Urszula developed a new tool called iFR8. iFR8 is an online B2B platform that allows customers to quote and book freight movements. It handles the entire process from start to finish through one central technological portal. It ensures that customers don’t have to speak to numerous suppliers to quote for the long Australian jobs. “We used to have a really lengthy process, but we have created a platform that generates an automated quote upon request,” Urszula explains.

This aspect of the business requires the owner drivers to be accredited to the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS), as safety is a must-have principle for Urszula.

Chain of Responsibility

 A particular passion of Urszula’s is Chain of Responsibility, an area where she is doing some great work in. Utilising some of the training and knowledge she acquired overseas, Urszula is fast-becoming an advocate of training and education in safety. “I form partnerships and relationships with all of my colleagues and suppliers, once you are familiar with people you work with they are not just colleagues and you care for them and so you have to ask yourself, am I doing everything I can to make sure everyone gets home safely,” Urszula says.

Urszula stresses the importance of everyone involved in the supply chain placing safety at the top of the agenda. “It’s not just about what happens on the road, it’s about everyone involved making sure they run a safe operation,” Urszula says. She recognises that while many involved in the supply chain, such as drivers, are aware of and compliant with their obligations, often key stakeholders do not have a full understanding of their legal responsibilities.

UC Logistics ensure that all drivers have safety training, but they also offer training in safety for their clients. “It’s about everyone taking safety seriously, not just our drivers. If I can change one person’s mind and make them think about safety then I have done my job,” Urszula says.

By working with well-established contacts within the industry, Urszula has created opportunities for smaller transport operators to allow them to work to a higher standard. Suppliers wishing to work for larger companies often have to go through the process of getting pre-approved as a supplier is complex. UC Logistics has made this easier by working with smaller operators to collate all the necessary information and ensure that they meet the safety regulations placed on them by the larger companies.

For Urszula, safety in Australia is perceived as an inconvenience. “It’s seen as very time-consuming, a bit of an inconvenience and people are quick to jump and say ‘no’”, Urszula says. According to her this is part of the problem, there needs to be a shift around the attitude towards safety in logistics in Australia, and Urszula is working hard to ensure that everyone that she works with is well-informed and educated to make the safest decision at all times. “Every time I have an opportunity to speak to the industry or the media about safety I will, it’s about having the right attitude, and I think that is starting to change.”