Federica Guidi, global sales and business development manager at VISA Global Logistics and winner of the Women in Industry Business Development Manager of the Year award, explains what makes a global business successful.
When Federica Guidi joined VISA Global Logistics – an international freight forwarding and logistics company – in 2011 as business development manager, she soon realised that it was no normal, nine-to-five job.
Freight forwarding is a complex process that involves a multitude of independent parties working together to transport shipments from an origin to a destination. These parties have their own unique priorities and challenges that usually affect the ability of other parties up and down the supply chain to deliver their own services.
This is further complicated by the distinct legislation, systems, processes and requirements in every country as well as unique client requirements. On average, over 150 steps need to be executed for the successful pick up and delivery of a shipment.
Due to the industry’s global scope, the freight forwarding industry never sleeps and the pressures to deliver shipments efficiently and on time is very intense. For clients, late shipments translate to hundreds, if not thousands, of lost sales and expensive penalties.
This was the multi-faceted industry that Guidi had to learn about when she joined VISA in 2011. The pressure to succeed and catch up to sales colleagues who had decades of knowledge and experience motivated Federica to ask questions and assistance, up-skill by attending seminars and courses and to volunteer to assist VISA departments to understand their operations. She worked six days a week and immersed herself in the industry for many years, developing a passion for freight forwarding.
“I had a lot of catching up to do and this meant long work hours. You need to be very driven to succeed at such a demanding job,” she told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
So, what gave her the drive to work hard and achieve success when the going got tough?
“I’m fortunate that VISA has a strong culture of team work, mentorship and support. Our management team operates an ‘open door’ policy and is responsive and encouraging. I have learnt to be honest and forthcoming regarding the resources I need to achieve my targets.”
“Being a private company also means that the company’s directors are involved in all aspects of the business and lead the team by example. Through their strong leadership and vision, as well as being a part of a talented team, I am driven to work harder every day to remain ahead of our competitors,” Guidi said.
By 2016, Guidi had a portfolio of over 60 clients ranging from family businesses, leading national businesses to international conglomerates. Her portfolio of existing and new clients brought in a year-on-year growth of 25 per cent annually. To recognise her ongoing success, she was promoted to global sales and business development manager by the end of 2017.
Her current role involves frequent travels to Europe, China and South East Asia to facilitate sales deals and to establish tailored and robust services infrastructure to cater to the unique requirements of global clients. Despite the growing accountabilities and responsibilities of her role, Guidi maintains strong relationships with her existing clients. In the past seven years, she has retained 95 per cent of her client portfolio.
The formula for success
Guidi believes what helps VISA Global Logistics stand out from the crowd is its knowledge of international markets, which enables the company to succeed in its global negotiations.
“VISA combines its knowledge of various global markets with its local capabilities in different countries to deliver the best results for the clients.
“The company’s directors also have a positive vision when it comes to adapting to changes and deploying new technologies, which contributes to the company’s success,” Guidi said.
VISA’s equality and diversity culture is another strong suit of the company, according to Guidi.
“Being a global business working with high-profile, multi-national companies, VISA shows the same level of care and support regardless of company size.
“In the same way, the people involved in every aspect of the business are all treated with respect. This is particularly important, considering that each international transaction involves many people at every stage of the shipping process,” she said.
As part of its commitment to grow the industry, Guidi said VISA Global Logistics offers six-month internship programs to international maritime and transport students, who are picked out each year through a selection process.
“It’s part of the company’s strategy to pass its knowledge and experience to the next generation. These are knowledge and skills that cannot be learnt through university courses or books, but only through direct experience and mentoring,” she explained.
A team effort
While she was honoured for having been selected as the Business Development Manager of the Year at the Women in the Industry Awards 2018, Guidi stressed that the recognition belongs to the whole team.
“Behind this accolade is a considerable number of people who have mentored, inspired, pushed,
helped and believed in me for the past seven years in this challenging but rewarding industry. They also deserve to be recognised for the success,” she said.
Being a global business, diversity plays a vital role in the success of VISA Global Logistics as a business.
“Diversity, at VISA and in our industry, is defined as knowing and appreciating a multitude of markets and cultures as we deal with these daily in our line of work. Therefore, the company arranges for our staff to attend various domestic and international conferences, as well as to meet our colleagues from overseas, creating a harmonious environment in the workplace.
“It’s also important for the company to be flexible and to understand each employee’s individual needs in terms of working hours and conditions. VISA Global Logistics is very good at that,” she concluded.