Young Freight Forwarder Shines

Young South African Freight Forwarder Shines at international competition


With a background in urban design and civil engineering, 27-year-old Tjaka Segooa has gone through a huge learning curve and thrived on the challenges in her new career as a freight forwarder at Bidvest Panalpina Logistics (BPL). It’s a job that requires an in-depth knowledge of transport logistics, excellent communication skills and problem-solving abilities. Transporting goods across the world efficiently and safely can be very complex, and a sound knowledge of shipping law and international customs regulations is imperative.

In 2014, BPL entrant Fortunate Mboweni became the first Africa-born African to win the international Young Freight Forwarder Award. This inspired Segooa to put her talents to the test and she entered the competition last year. 

The competition, run by the International Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations (FIATA), is conducted in three stages. The first entails an extensively researched 6 000-word paper outlining an import and export shipment from the entrant’s native country. Segooa’s dealt with the delivery of an abnormally sized consignment of aircraft parts to Germany, showcasing South Africa’s technical capabilities; and the importation from France by sea of a container of temperature sensitive carbon composites which involved a short transit, yet explored strategic responses and demonstrated how modern technologies can’t be taken for granted. 

Segooa’s well presented and written dissertation beat out 16 entries from around the world and put her through to the regional second phase, representing Africa Middle East. Further success meant she went to the FIATA World Congress in New Delhi as one of four regional finalists, up against entrants from the Americas, Europe and the Pacific regions.

For her 15-minute final-phase presentation, Segooa used the Rubik’s Cube as a metaphor for freight forwarding, associating the six sides of the cube with the six main elements of international trade transactions. “Rubik’s Cube has taught me that the real reward of achieving a goal is far greater than the actual result,” she says. “It’s about who you become in the process of challenging yourself and how that inspires other people. This is why I chose it as the metaphor to explain the complexity in freight forwarding, where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer. When it comes time to make that decision as a freight forwarder, all you have to guide you are your values and the vision and your life experiences that make you who you are.”

The UK’s Louis Perrin claimed the top honours for 2018. For Segooa, her personal first prize was the fantastic experience and exposure to many international delegates who shared insightful knowhow about their ever-evolving industry. “Nothing can substitute for experience,’ she says. “For me, this journey wasn’t about winning, but the experience that came with it – a lifetime one. Be brave, take risks. Every journey is a quest, whether you know it or not.”

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