For our next Atlas member interview, we talked to Steve Harley from Malawi, Angola and Zimbabwe. We talked about living and working on 3 continents, the underrecognition of the logistics industry and the satisfaction that comes with working as a freight forwarder.

How did you get started in the logistics industry and what has your journey been like so far?

After University in the UK , I helped my father set up a Southampton based procurement and logistics operation supporting aid and development agencies working in Southern Africa with their logistical and procurement needs.  This led me to go to Zimbabwe to set up a branch operation theresourcing Zimbabwe made products for regional export.  I went for 6 weeks and fifteen years later I was still there and travelling across southern Africa!
It was then time to move on.  I went to Angola to work in Oilfield Logistics for a company than eventually got bought by Exel UK, which was later bought by DHL. After regional jobs for Exel and DHL, I moved to Houston into a global role in business development of DHL Global Forwarding Oil and Energy business. That led me back to Europe (UK) to a role overseeing DHL’s global Energy business. It was a huge privilege to have that job, and I stayed in that for nearly 10 years before leaving to come back to be nearer to my family in Southern Africa. I then joined my current company in 2020 and look after the Zimbabwe and Malawi businesses.

If there is one thing that you could change to the logistics industry, what would it be and why?

The importance of global supply chains and the need for a skilled and reputable logistics industry is under recognised, even today. It is time that the logistics industry had a better reputation, and its importance was recognised more widely. The present situation of the industry been eaten away by the major ocean carriers will not work – especially in the more complex markets in Africa and elsewhere where regulations are not uniform and individual customer service is critical.

What is the most important lesson working in logistics has taught you?

The need for attention for detail and to never assume anything. In logistics, fact checking, document checking and rule checking are always essential. It is a lesson you can take into other parts of your life, such as building a house!

What do you like most about the industry and your job in particular?

There are new challenges , different industries to work with, global geographies to learn about and the satisfaction that the job gets done and the file gets closed eventually! Logistics work  is also a very transferable skill – I have lived and worked on 3 continents and visited about 60 countries in the course of my career. Not many jobs offer that opportunity.

How do you set yourself apart from your competitors?

We are a very experienced board of directors who, in the past,  have all worked for multinational companies in logistics. We bring that understanding of compliance , safety, business processes, risk management, performance evaluation and the need to constantly look forward and adapt. We understand the need for digitalisation, sustainability and other factors that drive modern logistics businesses. But we also understand how to align that with realities of working in developing African markets. In that respect, we are unique.

What do you like the most about being a member of our logistics network?

Operating in small markets like Malawi, it is essential that we maintain the broadest possible range of business contacts and offer quality logistics services to whoever needs them in that small market. The Atlas network helps us to broaden our contacts, meet like-mined SME’s who look to each other to provide end-to-end services. It makes sense to be part of such a network in order to grow your business and build similar global connections.

How do you relax in your free time?

I still seem to have the energy to go out an enjoy myself! When I am in Cape Town , I sail,  I enjoy the wonderful scenery and mountains as well as visiting the gym regularly and going out to great restaurants and music venues. I also have my children and my mother close by and I spend valuable and enjoyable time with them whenever I can.

Thank you, Steve!