Orlane BRETON-BOSSIERE / Air Freight Forwarding Agent
How would you define the Heppner spirit?
First and foremost, Heppner is a family business, and that is what has attracted me ever since I joined the group. I quickly realised just how much trust and self-management is given to us in our daily work, enabling us to progress quickly and smoothly in our jobs. Recently, Heppner has stepped up its commitment to the energy transition with its announcement of the phased deployment of NGV trucks. It is a first step that illustrates the group’s determination to take on the environmental challenge.
What responsibilities do you have in your job?
As an air freight forwarding agent, I am responsible for organising air transport for our export customers. Companies have specific needs for shipping their products, which can include any part of the world.
Within the agency, we work with the sales representatives who interact directly with the customers and also with the pricing department, which draws up quotes based on customer requests.
We are also in daily contact with air freight companies for bookings and tracking, and also with our agents at the destinations to track our shipments as required by the Incoterms.
We are involved in different stages: collecting the goods, checking the export documents, clearing through customs, preparing the LTA (the equivalent of the transported goods’ identity card), and tracking the goods up to the airport or until delivery to the importing customer, depending on the specific Incoterm.
The Incoterms specify the seller’s and buyer’s respective obligations within the framework of an international sales contract, and everyone working in our line of business must know them.
If something untoward happens during transport, for instance, goods are lost or a flight is delayed, we must contact the company, notify the customer and monitor the dispute closely to find a solution.
Obviously, our business line has been severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis, which has forced us to adapt day by day to new situations.
If you had to summarise your job in 3 words, what would they be?
- Resourcefulness: every day is different, driven by a complex, ever-changing equation between the assignments in hand, the customers involved and the regulations applied.
- Responsiveness: you have to be able to act swiftly when customers approve exports because they want them to arrive at their destination as quickly as possible. Sometimes, we have to act ahead of events and adapt to customer requirements.
- Inquisitiveness: if we are to consistently give the best advice to our customers, we must keep our knowledge of national and international freight up to date.
What are the main skills that you must bring to the job?
The first skill is related with an ability to self-organise. Although this is also true of many other jobs, the air freight forwarding agent’s job requires accurate knowledge of the customer and discipline in deploying the right level of expertise in order to optimise efficiency and responsiveness. We are constantly in contact with our customers in an advisory role, and this implies interpersonal skills to build lasting bonds of trust and to understand customers’ initial expectations. And because we have to communicate in an international environment, we need to speak English.
What is your background and why did you join Heppner?
I graduated with an advanced technical certificate in Business Unit Management, after which I spent a year in England to improve my English. When I came back to France, I continued training as an import/export assistant, with an internship in an overseas freight forwarder (air and ocean). I enjoyed this first immersion in the profession so much that I’ve been working in it ever since.
I had no previous professional experience in this field except for my notions of international trade, but it is perfectly possible to learn the profession’s workings through practice. With hands-on experience, motivation and support from supervisors and colleagues, anyone can become an excellent air freight forwarding agent. I have been working in the transport industry for 10 years now.
What is the achievement you are most proud of within the group?
In 2019, the Nantes agency took on an extraordinary challenge: coordinate loading and transport of 10 electricity generators from the customer’s site in France to Africa using an Antonov 124, one of the world’s largest cargo planes.
It was a major challenge for the Nantes air freight team, who successfully completed this unusual transport operation thanks to their engagement, experience and professionalism.