Richard Cawston - Business Unit Director


"Logistics is a wide ranging industry with lots of opportunities"


Can you talk us through your career from leaving school to now?

I planned to work in the construction industry and studied building and construction engineering subjects at college. Alongside this, I worked as a student for many years in a fresh food company (Geest) and started my first job with them following my studies. After a few years in various roles, I TUPE’d to Christian Salvesen and a few years later I was able to broaden my experience into large scale operations with ASDA Distribution. From there I joined XPO Logistics just over 10 years ago in a General Manager role.


How did you get into logistics and what was your first role?

The same as many in the industry I think, by circumstances at the time. Having finished my studies (just when the recession hit in the early 90s), my career continued in Geest longer than the stop gap I had envisaged. There were some fantastic opportunities for those who wanted them and I moved quickly from loading lorries and picking, into stock / production management, Warehouse and Operational Management roles. Still, you never know my bricklaying skills might come in handy again sometime!


What is it about logistics that appealed to you and what does the industry have to offer young people starting their careers?

It’s a wide ranging industry, lots of opportunities and one where there are few barriers to career progression for people who want to progress. 


What skills do you think you need to succeed within logistics?

A ‘can do’ attitude to resolving problems, an ability to lead through the good times as well as the more difficult times and great people skills – I am still trying to do all of these things better every day.


How has XPO Logistics helped shape your career?

I have had some great experiences from new negotiations and start- ups and managing major change projects, through to involvement with marketing and pensions! Overall XPO Logistics has helped me to continually grow my experience, skills base and (I hope) my leadership skills.


What qualifications have you gained during your time at XPO Logistics?

I am fortunate enough to be currently going through the Cranfield School of Management - Directors Programme. I hope this will give me a much broader view of leading within businessed. It’s also great to take some time for professional development.


What makes XPO Logistics a special place to work?

For me it has been several things – the huge ambition the group has to continually grow the business, the pretty unique way the business is decentralised and a thus a great deal of trust and autonomy is placed in us. Last but not least, the personal opportunities I have been given during my time with the company.


What advice would you give to an apprentice entering the logistics sector? 

Go for it! There are a few reasons I say that:

- It’s a huge industry sector

- There are lots of options to specialise on particular areas within the logistics and supply chain and much easier to move within once you are in the sector

- There are few qualification barriers to progression

- It’s a very dynamic environment to work in