Sales support manager Lucy Allen has been working at Gurit for two decades, working in one of the most challenging aspects of international trade: export controls and sanctions.
A key benefit of being a member of the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) has been having this hard work recognised.
She moved into the international trade sector after taking on a new role with manufacturer Gurit, taking on the task of learning about the complex world of sanctions regulations. She explains:
“I think, as the new person in the team, I got given responsibility.
I got sent on a sort of exporting refresher course. It was quite an eye opener for me, and I've been learning about exporting ever since.”
It was through this new experience, that Lucy eventually got the opportunity to join the IOE&IT.
Recognition and authority
After years of working in international trade, Lucy was looking for a way to have her extensive and hard-won knowledge properly recognised.
Searching online, she came across the IOE&IT’s website and found exactly what she needed to continue to develop her career through a flexible, online course. She was given an equivalent qualification due to her impressive CV and experience in the business of exporting.
For Lucy, it was about more than just a piece of paper. She explains:
“It offered me the chance to be recognized for what I do and what I've always done: export control.”
“More importantly, it gave me the authority in my role to tell someone that I have that experience and that I do know what I’m doing.”
As someone who works with multiple teams across several continents, having the ability to demonstrate that she is a subject matter expert is crucial to her job. The IOE&IT membership badge is a welcome addition to her email signature.
As a sales support manager at Gurit – an international specialist manufacturer of composite materials – Lucy’s job is to work with different teams and make sure everyone keeps on the right side of sanctions.
This can be a major challenge, she explains:
“You can use our products to build superyachts, car parts and wind turbine blades, but equally they can be used to build any composite structure.”
Composite materials are complex to control, she says, because we don’t sell a finished product and therefore our materials can be used as part of a composite materials bill for anything.
To ensure compliance, our first step is to identify which products in our range are ‘dual-use’ by rating them against the DIT UK Strategic Export Control List at the earliest opportunity (usually at point of coding).
The second step: “it's all about ‘knowing your customer’ and if you don't ‘know’ them –– you need to carry out the necessary due diligence checks. Even if the product we are shipping is not classified as ‘dual-use’ it is our responsibility to ensure there
is no End User risk. We use the DIT End User Checking service ‘SPIRE’ to ensure that new customers do not have End User concerns”.
Lucy is a particular fan of the IOE&IT Daily Update, enjoying the regular flow of the IOE&IT’s bitesize news coverage:
“You can have a quick cup of coffee as you read it and you're learning while you're having a bit of downtime in a genuinely busy role.
“It also covers other areas within export and international trade. I work part-time and I have a busy role, so it’s important to tap into the current state of affairs because things change so quickly within export.”
“I think it's always good to be aware of other areas of the business, even though it doesn't directly impact me, it affects my colleagues at the sites.”
In particular, that feeling of a community and receiving a wider view of what other international traders get up to is vital to her.
This extended to one of the most difficult times in recent global history. During the Covid-19 period, the free learning sessions offered by the IOE&IT were another key benefit.
“I think that they were brilliant.
“At a time when so many things were off limits, it was great to have the opportunity for personal development. ‘Cloud computing & Export Controls’ and ‘Export Control in India’ were useful to my role and a welcome distraction from the pandemic!”
She also tells of supply chain woes, a topic well covered by the Daily Update:
“Costs have gone up for everything.”
“We work as a company to try and mitigate this, working to give our customers some stability as best we can. But everybody's up against it, even domestically.”
However, in spite of everything, Lucy says that supply chain issues are starting to clear.
The company has taken advantage of this situation, using it as a chance to improve supply chains:
“Whilst maintaining loyalty with existing supply chains we have broadened our base and qualified other suppliers so that we can fulfil future customer orders regardless of the situation”.
Ultimately, for both Gurit and Lucy, survival is about how you work with your customers:
“We've tried to come with more of a partnership.”
“We want to be a system partner for a lot of our customers. We work with them closely to create new products and services, and to ultimately become a more valuable partner to them.”