Just over two years ago, I joined FCDO Services as an Apprentice Warehouse Operative in the Logistics team. It was a 15-month scheme where I got hands-on experience and took part in structured learning. As part of that, I helped pack, plan and deliver shipments for vital government projects worldwide. I got involved in everything from picking and packing orders, to loading goods for dispatch, to office work such as logging shipments and maintaining stock records – all things that help us run an efficient and effective logistics network across the globe. The variety of work meant I could try new things and find out what I enjoyed.
It was a great way to experience the full breadth of what happens in our warehouse and helped me develop essential skills. Once I finished the apprenticeship, I became a full-time Warehouse Operative and discovered that I really enjoyed the office side of work, so I got more involved with that. With all of the opportunities and training around me, I quickly worked my way up, and today, I’m a Logistics Load Scheduler working with two Logistics departments.
That’s one of the best things about careers here, there are so many opportunities for the taking. You might start in Logistics but you don’t have to stay there, you can explore and move around; some people in the team have moved into other roles like Technical Installers where they get the opportunity to travel the world to various embassies. I find that global aspect and variety of work so interesting.
“That’s one of the best things about careers here, there are so many opportunities for the taking.”
With packing and logistics, people tend to think of simple items you might order for yourself. At FCDO Services, the parcels we deliver are so vast and follow a unique process. Everything has to be repacked in diplomatic bags or diplomatic wrapping and secured for safe transport by land, sea or air. You also need to think about the fact that what you’re shipping might not fit through a normal sized door or that it needs to go up seven flights of stairs. To pack it appropriately, you have to look forward and at the bigger picture so it can be facilitated and delivered safely on the other side.
In my new role, I act as the link between accompanied and unaccompanied Logistics teams. Depending on what our customers need, we offer two levels of secure shipping; either unaccompanied through trusted carriers or accompanied by our own staff. Either way, I’m part of the chain that helps ensure the shipments get to where they need to be, safely and securely. That involves liaising with the unaccompanied and accompanied teams and planning the best, most economical shipments that will deliver safely on time. We also try to reduce our carbon footprint by scheduling shipments together where we can.
“You never know what’s coming through the door because we’re sending so many parcels to so many different places around the world.”
What really motivates me is knowing that every day is different. You never know what’s coming through the door because we’re sending so many parcels to so many different places around the world. We have posts in 168 countries, from the Falkland Islands, to Paris, to Mongolia – if you can think of a country, we’ve probably delivered there. And it’s not just the different places we send to, but also the sheer variety of parcels we send; from IT equipment, to an Olympic torch, to full gym kits.
In fact, during the pandemic, the whole team pulled together to help support the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in the fight against COVID-19. From transporting life-saving equipment to India to aiding the global deployment of vaccines for UK government agency staff in 182 different countries worldwide. We also sent football and rugby shirts to Africa to help get local kids involved in sports. They’re just some of the examples of the global impact we make. It’s those moments of making a real impact that make this job so rewarding. Sometimes you won’t think much of what you’re packaging, but when you take a step back, you realise that what you’re doing is making a real difference.
“When you take a step back, you realise that what you’re doing is making a real difference.”
I didn’t know much about FCDO Services before I started, but I liked the fact that they were a Civil Service. It only took me one quick look at the website to realise how global they were, and in turn the effect my work can have on a huge scale. The pandemic has been a hard time for many, but working for the Civil Service, I was fortunate enough to have a secure job. That security is invaluable.
For sure, I see my future here. It’s crazy to think that only two years ago I had no idea where my apprenticeship would take me. When I first started, I was an 18-year-old with little confidence, asking a lot of questions, but everyone was keen to help and I was welcomed with open arms. Surrounded by opportunities to develop myself professionally and personally, I’ve grown into a confident and assertive person. That’s thanks to all the training and support I’ve received that went far beyond the Warehouse. I’ve done training in first aid, self-defence, forklifting, interview techniques, professional career conversations, and a course on the neuroscientific aspect to Change. The managers encourage you to learn, and you’re given the time to take part in the training. What’s more, it’s all funded by FCDO Services if you’re a permanent employee.
There’s so much room for progression. In just two years I’ve soaked a lot in, and FCDO Services enables me to keep learning as much as I can.