Interview: Phil Jackson, XPO Professional Volunteer in Uganda

Phil Jackson (pictured on the right above), Management Trainee with our corporate member XPO Logistics, is the first of our professional volunteers to work on our road safety projects in Uganda.

Transaid’s Head of Fundraising, Florence Bearman, spoke to Phil about his experiences on this exciting new challenge on the frontline of Transaid’s driver training programmes.

What have you achieved in Uganda?

I have been working for Transaid in Uganda since the start of July, on secondment from XPO Logistics UK. During my 2 months in the country I have already built strong relationships with a variety of stakeholders in some key projects.

I am currently assisting with Professional Driver Training in Uganda by helping to manage data capture as part of our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning activities. I’ve been working closely with a number of transporters, freight forwarders, driver training schools and other private sector partners. This work has seen me coordinating training, obtaining data and developing a number of tools, which we can use to demonstrate the effectiveness of our training. Acquiring this data has been challenging for me and has required the development and delivery of learning sessions for our partners, to help them understand and assist with our requirements.

While the majority of my time has been spent in the capital, Kampala, I have also been trusted to carry out field research in places such as Fort Portal and Kamwenge, in the rural west. Here I have engaged our training partners and delivered a number of reports to help Transaid provide ongoing support to these companies.

This placement has required a rapid cultural adjustment and I have managed to adapt quickly to the demands of my new home. I have already developed a broad social circle, which has allowed me to network with expats working for other charities and NGOs in Uganda; helping Transaid to develop potential synergies in the country.

I’ve already been able to assist with other Transaid projects in Africa and this has seen me producing research in the availability of motorcycle training in both Kenya and Uganda too. Coordinating a wide portfolio of projects means that I have many more achievements to realise!

How is it helping your development?

This secondment has provided me with extensive autonomy in my role and has given me the ability to make my own decisions and deliver project objectives by setting goals and managing my time effectively too. I have also been able to improve my management skills in this position, as our partners have required close supervision to help us achieve our aims.

My time in Uganda has already been a driving force in bolstering my confidence in unfamiliar environments, as I have had to learn a completely new way of living in order to become a valuable asset in Uganda. Nonetheless, being away from my family, friends and peers for such a long time has also strengthened my resolve – making me resilient in the face of new challenges and forcing me to develop more patience and positivity in my work.

While this secondment has improved many soft skills, it is also improving my awareness of Transport Management and I am now more confident when working with Heavy Goods Vehicles and this allows me to better manage Driver Trainers and other stakeholders too. I will be able to take this learning back to my company and provide real benefits to the teams that I work with in the future.

What do you think it will mean for your career going forward?

Working in this role has affirmed my long term desire for a successful career in transport management and/or transport projects. After completing this secondment, I hope to secure a role as either a Transport or Project Manager working in a regional capacity. Having proved that I can manage my time effectively while working in isolation and also with others too, I would hope to be eligible for a Contract or Account Manager role in the future!

This placement has demonstrated to me that I can work in any environment and engage many different people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. I have a strong desire to work in both the United States and continental Europe, so this experience will hopefully provide me with the vision to succeed in a foreign or national role in the future!

To find out more about the Professional Driver Training – Uganda Project, click here.