Leung Kong-yui is an expert in logistics management, with more than 20 years' experience in the field. But it is only recently that the term has crept into job descriptions. Mr Leung is chairman of the transport and logistics policy committee of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, but when starting his 'logistics' career at Hong Kong Telephone his job description was, prosaically, manager of distribution, purchasing and warehouse operations. 'The reason why all of a sudden, logistics became the power word that gets all the attention is because of the increasing intense competition in the international marketplace,' says Mr Leung. When a global business strives for efficiency and profit performance, it has to take a 'totality' view on an important process - moving materials and goods. 'Logistics concepts started in the United States and Europe in the 1980s and were introduced to Hong Kong in the mid-1990s. Later, its growth rate exploded when the government announced logistics as one of the four pillars for Hong Kong,' Mr Leung says. 'Located close enough to the factory of the world - the Pearl River Delta - we have all the accessible facilities for containers and aircraft, which makes us eligible to be an important hub of the logistics chain between China and the world. The industry is an old profession. Due to the continuous development of the China market, we can enjoy a healthy growth in the coming five to 10 years. We notice that the industry is well taken care of by the recent Cepa [Closer Economic Partnership Agreement],' Mr Leung says. The agreement further opens the mainland market to Hong Kong companies. The industry's growth might not directly translate into a big increase in labour force. Last year, the industry was employing 79,000 people, with more than 50 per cent working in operations jobs. The headcount of operations staff such as truckdrivers, warehouse staff or distributors will not over-expand because of relatively high labour costs. However, the number of managerial and supervisory jobs is expected to increase by 5 to 6 per cent. 'I believe this is positive news. The number of new graduates cannot cope with the increasing jobs available at the supervisory level,' says Mr Leung. The growth has already attracted more corporations coming into the industry. In facing a competitive environment, the players will have to provide reliable services to the clients. Much like a corporation, the individual should have the right attitude, effective communications skills, and the determination to get things done to stay competitive. In addition, due to logistics' international nature, language proficiency skills are of utmost importance. 'We move goods on a global basis; we are bound to work with our overseas and global partners.' All the players, whether they are freight forwarders, shipping companies or airlines, all operate on an international basis. The professionals are being encouraged to obtain, besides industry/market knowledge and essential soft skills, a formal membership with the institute. The institute is spurring on employers to become members. 'Membership is an indication of knowledge, exposure and professionalism,' Mr Leung says.