What Are The Biggest Challenges as An ILS Manager?

By Kinexus on 7 February 2019

Amanda is an Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) practitioner with 15 years’ experience in varying logistic roles, including eight years in major capital acquisition and ten years in the Australian Defence environment.

We chat to Amanda about the challenges of ILS, how she got into logistics and get her advice for others looking to understand or get into the world of ILS.

1. Tell us a little bit about what you do at Jacobs Australia.

I work as an Integrated Logistics Support Manager, specifically in Defence major capital acquisition programs. Defence Acquisition ILS is a diverse field and for that reason can be difficult to explain, but the objective is to implement strategies that ensure a capability can be sustained for its life. We consider things like maintenance, support equipment, technical data, supportability engineering, spares, training and personnel. Failure to adequately provide any one of these things can mean that a capability does not operate to its fullest capacity, or in some cases operations could cease altogether. It is the work that goes on behind the scenes and most of the time it does not get noticed until something goes wrong.

2. How did you get into ILS?

I got a job as a logistics administrator for a manufacturing company, and it didn’t take me long to know that I wanted to further my career in this field. Shortly after that I commenced studying a degree in Supply Chain Management at the University of Wollongong and continued to work in various Supply Chain roles. While studying, I was lucky enough to get selected for the Defence Material Organisation Cadet program, then again for their Graduate Program. After a few different jobs in Defence, I specialised in Integrated Logistics Support within the Acquisition environment.

3. What is the most significant technological breakthrough during your time in ILS and how has it changed the work you do?

I wouldn’t say it’s one single thing; but overall the products that we support are MUCH more technologically advanced, so it’s changed how we provide solutions. Many products require less maintenance than their predecessors, in extreme cases, some products can even self-diagnose faults and order their own parts through the supply chain. Conversely, the rate of change in technology means that we are also constantly considering how we keep up to date, i.e. do we plan periodical technical refreshes or replace products more frequently.

4. What are the biggest challenges faced by people in ILS?

The biggest challenges arise from ILS either being overlooked or undervalued. There is a constant battle as an ILS professional to educate others on the importance of investing the time and effort upfront to ensure that the necessary resources are in place to support a capability. Time and dollar pressures are our biggest enemy. In the project world the focus is on delivering capabilities ‘on time’ and ‘on budget’, and because of this there will always be trade-offs with long term supportability.

5. What attracted you to your current role and responsibility?

There is something new every day! The ILS activities that we undertake change as the project progresses through the capability lifecycle. Which means there is always a new strategy/challenge/problem to tackle. You really will never do the same thing twice.

6. What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?

It’s a long time to wait out (sometimes ten years), but to see a capability you worked on brought into service is incredibly rewarding. But in the short term, I really enjoy solving the challenges that pop up along the way.

7. What’s it like working at Jacobs specifically?

The thing I love most about my job is the people. It’s important to me to have the opportunity to work with people that I can learn from. The Jacobs people that I have had the pleasure of working with throughout my career have been extremely experienced and more than willing to share their knowledge.

The company has fostered my aspirations to grow both my technical expertise and my management abilities, including undertaking postgraduate study in Logistics. As a result, I was able to work my way up as an ILS consultant and then move into a management role.

8. What is your advice to anyone (especially graduates) looking for a career in ILS?

ILS is an incredibly diverse field, so know that you can’t know everything!  Find an area that you enjoy and specialise in it. Then seek out people that specialise in other areas of ILS and have them advise you as required. A network is everything to an ILS professional!

Amanda Lam 
ACT Operations Manager
Jacobs Australia

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