Developing a logistics career

Elena Iftimovici moved to the UK after graduating university in her native Romania. Gist was her first employer after arriving in England and, almost four years later, Elena continues to develop her logistics career and is now a Site Operations Manager.


As a Site Operations Manager (SOM) Elena is part of a large team at Enfield, one of eight Gist distribution centres that delivers product into allocated Marks & Spencer Foods stores. 


Elena explains: “As a SOM you are stepping away from the operation slightly to take on a leadership role. It’s about being on site and leading and investing in your team so they can deliver and do their job to the best of their ability.


“My main responsibility is the safety of colleagues on my shift and ensuring our standards have been maintained. I am responsible for planning shifts according to the volume each day - ambient or cold chain – the number of resources, and collaborating with agencies if I need extra resources. My focus is to also make sure that we deliver great results, balancing cost and maintaining an excellent relationship with the customer. Driven by the responsibility and the passion for the job, I always make sure I am living our values of being ethical, progressive, collaborative and accountable.”


In 2018, Elena graduated with a law degree from the University if Bucharest and moved to the UK. After signing up to a temping agency, Elena joined Gist Hemel Hempstead as a Warehouse Operative.


Elena commented: “I got to know a lot about the company and I loved spending time at work. I think other people saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I was very open to new tasks and new opportunities.”


Elena’s passion was evident, quickly becoming a permanent colleague and later enrolling on a development plan before becoming a Warehouse Team Manager.


“I remember calling my family in Romania when I accepted the job,” Elena says, “I think they expected me to return at some point but I told them I’m staying here and I was so proud to get the Team Manager job.


“I was very interested in the business KPIs, stock loss and learning more behind the scenes and so asked a lot of questions to try and understand these more. In spring 2022, my former site General Manager, who had moved to Gist Enfield, offered me the role of Site Operations Manager (SOM) at Enfield on a secondment.


“I couldn’t believe it; it was the happiest day of my life. I started my new journey and on 1 May 2022 I was made SOM at Gist Enfield permanently. I was speechless and so happy because it was my hard work that got me here. Less than one month in I’m making decisions for the whole site, running 24-hour shifts and organising recruitment.


“I thought I would struggle with the language barrier coming to the UK and the different culture, but it wasn’t like that at all. I feel Gist embraces diversity, youth, development and opportunity.


“The people I work with are great and my first impression was that everyone was so friendly. I thought maybe it was just because I was new but they are all really so friendly and helpful. I struggled in my first week as I didn’t know the system or understand what a powered pallet tuck (PPT) was, and they were so helpful and willing to invest in me.”


Elena is thoroughly enjoying her new role and is keen to continue developing her logistics career. She adds: "I’m definitely going to stay here and maybe one day I will be General Manager of a site. Gist will be my first and last employer in the UK as I’m not planning on leaving.”