“I felt that for the long term – and for my professional growth – it was time for a change.”

Image of Seb Taylor
From Logistics to HR

While Seb Taylor enjoyed the sector he worked in, he was tired of the consistent frustrations that came with his job. Here's how a casual suggestion led to a new career route, how he resisted tempting offers from his employer to stay, and how he got to grips with a new industry.

What work were you doing previously?    

I spent eight years working in a range of roles within the logistics industry.

I first started in events logistics (mainly festivals), then I moved to an early-stage startup where I led its last mile food delivery. Following this, I managed network planning for a global third-party logistics company, Gist. 

What are you doing now?    

I’m now the Head of Practice for Logistics, Operations and Customer Service at Pod Talent, a specialist supply chain recruitment agency. 

We primarily work with supply chain and Human Resource leaders to build high performing teams, and we also support candidates on their career journey.

We consult for both the clients and the candidates in terms of career advice, the growth of their team, and overall we act as an independent advisor and external source of information.

How did you feel in your work before you decided to make the change?    

I really enjoyed it. 

I've got a passion for logistics, as strange as that might sound, and even enjoy reading Logistics Manager magazine with my coffee on a Saturday morning! 

Working on the ground in logistics had so many benefits   I loved the people, and loved managing a team, which I found particularly rewarding.

But the issue with the logistics world was the continued firefighting, and the operational nature of the role (and the fact it was rooted in a company structure) often meant you couldn't focus on some of the big things effectively.

Why did you change?    

I saw where my role was going within the field I was operating in and it wasn’t where I wanted to be in the longer-term.

If I’d had stayed, ultimately I would likely grown into an Operations Director or something similar, but I knew it would be a very functional role. What I was really interested in was the understanding of logistics, how people interact on global scale, how to build teams and how they work.

I felt that for my personal and professional growth it was time for a change.

How did you choose your new career?    

I started to look at other roles I could do that were involved in the supply chain sector that weren't necessarily logistics or operations based. 

I first looked at legal roles in the sector, and going into HR. However, I didn't have a law degree, and I didn’t particular want to go back to studying as I wanted to keep working, so that crossed a legal role off my list pretty quickly.

I then spoke to people I trusted within the industry and some people I’d worked with previously for ideas – “I want to stay in the industry, are there any other areas you think I could go into?'. 

I’d used Pod Talent to hire for my own team and they had been amazing through my job hunt  when I was first looking. I told them that I wanted to move away from what I was doing (in terms of the operational aspect) and wanted to do something a strategic where I could make a big impact.  

Through these conversations we started to talk about me moving into recruitment.

Recruitment can offer a host of opportunities and allows you to develop great skills, and it also can be quite a broad role with a good opportunity for clear long-term growth. My experience of speaking with recruiters also showed me where I could get to if I were to move into the industry.

Are you happy with the change?    

Yes, very happy.

Fulfilled is the best word to describe it.

I get to make a real impact in terms of change for my clients and candidates. Recently I worked directly with a business’ senior leadership team where I helped built out an entire international team, which was really rewarding.

I also get to be a trusted advisor every day and I’ve really enjoyed building professional relationships - I now have clients and candidates that are like friends.

On top of this, I get to work with a fantastically talented team at Pod. Everyone is so driven and we’ve really built up the business in recent years. I’m so proud of everything we’ve achieved. 

And lastly, in my logistics career I’d always been in the office (or warehouse site!), five days a week. I now have a hybrid way of working, where I'm in the office a couple of days a week and can work from home/remotely the rest of the time. I’m enjoying this new way of working.

What do you miss and what don't you miss?    

As much as I say I hate the firefighting, there is a part of me that misses it. 

As an example, at peak in my former roles, you could have 20-30 truck loads per day that are not covered by anyone – there's no plan for them. It would be my job with the team to try to find a way to problem solve a way out of that, which I found interesting.

It's very challenging and really pushes you, which was something I enjoyed. It's not something I'd want to do every single day, but it was something I did enjoy.

I don't miss getting bogged down in that firefighting and operational stuff on a daily basis though. 

How did you go about making the shift?    

One of the recruiters at Pod mentioned they were hiring themselves, perhaps half-joking at first!

For the next two to three weeks after that, I couldn't shake the idea off. For me, if I have something stuck in my head that I can’t shake off, then it usually has legs. 

Then followed many meetings and conversations with the team at Pod about where I could sit in the team, what level I'd come in at, what experience I actually had, the cultural fit etc.

How did you develop (or transfer) the skills you needed for your new role?    

Pod had a full and detailed training plan ready for me as soon as I joined. 

You might think that recruitment is about having lots of candidates in a database, calling up a clients and sending some people their way. But it's much more than that.

It's about understanding people's true motivations and what they really want, making sure careers and culture are aligned as well as working closely with clients to find the best individuals in the market 

I had months of intense training at the start and during this time I tried to absorb as much as I could. 

I also did a huge amount of reading, understanding what different job descriptions are, and trying to absorb information about different industries in my personal time.

How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?    

I worked out a budget, and had some savings.

I tried to be realistic around what I needed to make the move. The pay structure is different in recruitment, so I had to plan for this at first. 

Understanding the growth and salary structure in the new role and sector also helped. 

What was the most difficult thing about changing?    

At first, I was concerned about what people would think.

I was worried people around me would tell me I was making a mistake. I probably spent too much time worrying about others. 

Other than that, I’d say the change itself was certainly challenging. There was a lot to learn in a short space of time and I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a high performer in my new role from day one.

What help did you get?    

I talked to as many people as possible – friends, family, ex-colleagues etc. – just to get their view on it.

I was trying to get all the pros and cons from people, ones that I might not have necessarily been able to see myself.

What resources would you recommend to others?    

Use success stories and case studies!

If you're looking to shift within your industry, talk to someone who’s made a shift or a recruiter as they have knowledge of a wide range of job titles that you might not even have heard about or know exist.

What have you learnt in the process?

I’ve learn that I'm more open to change and more capable than I thought I was at adapting my skills.

As long as you put in the time and effort, you can achieve what you want. I think making the shift gave me a real boost in terms of confidence and knowing that if I try hard at something I can get there.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation? 

Get a mentor, probably someone in the industry you're looking to move into or within. 

You don't need a lot of people, just having one person or a couple of people who are in your corner is really useful.  

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in roles you’re exploring and ask for a chat with them about what they do. In my experience people are much more open to help than you would think!

Go into it knowing that it's not easy, and there might be points where you want to give up and go back to your old role or company. The shift might take longer than you want or expect it too.

Finally, make sure that you understand the real foundational reasons of why you want to make the move. There were times during the transition when I wondered 'what am I doing?', and so coming back to my core reason ‘why’ kept me on track.

Thanks to our friends at Pod Talent for this story. If you'd like to contact Seb directly to find out more about his shift, he'd be happy for you to connect on [email protected].

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]. and you could win a £25 / $35 voucher in our monthly draw.