With this week being #ExportingisGREAT week, we interviewed International Trade Administrator David O’Neill from the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce to uncover his views and opinions on the world of exporting. Here is what we found out…
What is your current job role and what does it involve?
I’m currently an International Trade Administrator at the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce. This involves processing important export documents for businesses shipping goods out of Ayrshire, to the rest of the world.
Is this the first job you have had in exporting?
I’ve previously worked in the timber manufacturing industry and played a part in the export of home-grown timber to the Middle-East and Far-East. My role was in logistics, organising the transport and necessary paperwork for the container to go from site to port. I wasn’t fully aware of the exporting process though, and my current job has made me realise that there’s more to the export business than simply packing stuff and sending it off on a ship.
What attracted you to this job role?
It’s nice to do something positive with a tangible end result. My current role isn’t directly related to the manufacture of goods, but it’s good to play a small part in helping local businesses send their products all over the world.
What does exporting mean to you?
Exporting is very important, and perhaps under-rated part of our economy. It means that money is flowing into the country and helps create demand for local businesses, which in turn helps sustain/create jobs. While some businesses embrace the opportunities exporting can bring, perhaps there are others who could develop further by looking beyond the home market.
What is a typical day in the life of an International Trade Administrator?
There’s no typical day in some senses, as it revolves around what document requests we receive from exporters. Cases can often be simple & straightforward, but there can be complicated, unusual ones too. These ones can be challenging to solve but we’ll always try our best to make sure we can help.
What do you like about your job?
It’s good to be able to help local businesses and make sure they get what they’re looking for. I also enjoy seeing all sorts of interesting local products ending going all over the world, and playing a small part in this journey.
What do you dislike about your job?
There’s no room for mistakes in export documentation, and sometimes I feel like a picky school teacher when I phone up exporters telling them to correct even the smallest of errors. Luckily, our clients are all really friendly and understanding that we’re trying to help them. Picking up on a small error here, is far better than goods reaching a far-flung country only to be refused due to incorrect paperwork.
What is the most challenging part of your job role?
Concentration and awareness is very important, and it’s vital that you don’t go into auto-pilot and make any assumptions. A mistake at our end could lead to serious re-percussions for our clients so we cannot let mistakes happen. We make sure everything is double-checked but it still doesn’t mean you can switch off.
Why do you think exporting is a good industry to be involved in?
Exporting is an area which is perhaps under-valued but is essential for many businesses. Knowledge on exporting is a valuable asset to many firms, and they can often find it difficult to find people who have the relevant skills & experience. It’s a positive, satisfying field to work in and there are definitely career opportunities out there.
What kind of skills and qualities do you think are required for exporting job roles?
You have to have an eye for detail, a degree of ability in problem-solving and a bit of patience at times would also be handy too. Rules & regulations can also change regularly, so you have to be able to keep up with what’s going on in your particular areas of business.
With 1 in 4 manufacturing jobs depending on exporting it is therefore not only an industry great for businesses but it can also be a great career path for young people!
(David O’Neill, International Trade Administrator)