Workforce WindsorEssex interviews different professionals for an inside look into their work.

As we take a look at workers in the transportation and warehousing sector, we spoke with Santino who works as the Human Resources and Safety Compliance Manager of OnFreight Logistics.

How did you get started in your line of work?

I came into the logistics community right out of school as a dispatcher. I was a lifelong swimmer; I swam for about eighteen years of my life and coming out of university I felt kind of lost. I was trying to find what I enjoyed doing. I ended up stumbling upon human resources because, at one point when I was done swimming, I got into coaching. I made the connection between human resources and coaching/training. I ended up getting my Masters in Human Resource Development at McDaniel College in Baltimore, Maryland. After that, I had to immerse myself into some sort of industry and that happened to be trucking and logistics. I started out as a dispatcher at FOGZ Logistics for about five years where I was talking to drivers, booking loads and reloads, dealing with customers, you name it. Now, I’m in my position in human resources where I can have these conversations with drivers and I can relate to them from both a driver’s and operational standpoint.  

What does your average day looks like?

It includes immersing myself in every single department. Obviously, human resources and safety compliance has to be a part of each department, but also administrative departments such as payroll, operations, dispatch, mechanics, as well as leading our own department. Being that person that anyone can come and talk to or find out the results of different situations, that’s kind of what my day revolves around.  I’m also involved in innovation; Jim [Operations and Safety Manager] and I are in constant contact where we come up with things in the logistics industry that we can push, such as new technologies. It’s very important to be current in our industry, which is always evolving. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The field that I’m in is so human-based; there are so many human factors that you have to deal with in terms of coach and bringing them up to find the best in themselves, right? To see them come in through the recruiting phase, or maybe they’re going through a tough time at home, maybe they’re having an issue with their manager or colleague, the ability to have conversations with them and coach them in order to resolve those issues… then a day, week, or month after, you start to see those relationships flourish and see them become successful employees. 

Another is the ability to bring innovation into this organization. Since I’ve walked in that door, I’ve kind of had the key to bring different tools and programs in to make our lives easier and allow for compliance to be achieved much more easily. You’re keeping people safe on the road, you’re training them, you’ve got your compliance documents… when I get home, I can have a smile on my face. At OnFreight, I’ve found it’s the perfect balance between corporate and family; when you walk through the halls, you’re not just a number. 

Do you ever hear misconceptions about your job? How do you respond to them?

OTA kind of focuses on that: how to we change the perspective of our industry from an HR perspective? Whether it be the notion of “dispatcher vs. truck drivers” or the image of long hours, being uneducated, you name it.  

What I like to do is prove that wrong: for example, I talk to my friends and they don’t know about the kinds of innovation we have in this industry. The ability to dispatch thirty to forty guys in one shift is crazy! There’s so much technology in what’s sometimes seen as a ‘downgraded’ field, and I think there needs to be more light shone on the trades in general. Associations like CTA and OTA, Trucking HR Canada play their part, and there are lots of stories and statistics we can share. We hear stories of truckers helping people on the side of the road… truckers are good people who are down-to-earth, and that’s why I really have so much respect for them. 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering your field?

You’re travelling the world and getting to see a lot of things that lots of people aren’t able to see. And the amount of job security that you have in trucking is at the top. You’re still going to have to work your butt off, but if you’re willing you’ll be getting paid very well. I had to learn that just because I have a degree, you still have to climb that ladder and build those working relationships… the rest is just being a good driver!