Meet Our People: Customs Support UK Sr. Consultant Customs & Trade Melanie Hill
In our series #WeAreCustomsSupport, you will meet the people behind Customs Support. We value our colleagues and the work they do. In this series, we will interview the people who are always ready to assist you with importing or exporting your goods without worries. Next up in this series is Melanie Hill, who is the Senior Consultant for customs and trade in the UK.
Who are you?
Hi! I’m Melanie Hill, and I am the Senior Consultant for customs and trade in the UK. While we’ve had a team of over 25+ consultants across the UK here at Customs Support for a while, being a UK-based consultant is new for the company. It is a joy to be able to lead the way in providing the comprehensive analysis many UK organisations desire in a post-Brexit world for Customs Support UK.
What does a consultant for customs and trade do?
I provide customers and colleagues with guidance on cross-border activities, regulations and authorisation applications. It’s my job to be there for people when they need that expertise and to be able to keep it simple for them. I spend time discussing everything from your temporary concerns to more long-term challenges; with the objective of reducing your workload through analysis of your logistics processes and optimisation of your customs activities.
What does your typical working day look like?
I am always looking for new organisations who need our support, to provide Customs Quick Scans aiding the organisations in aligning to an ever-changing market environment. My days are spent communicating with our clients and keeping our digital systems updated to ensure we can offer the best and most timely advice.
Other things we look at during a day in the life of a consultant, is creating end-to-end compliance programmes, opportunities for supply chain optimisation for our clients and of course, here in the UK - I deal with ongoing Brexit Support questions. Preparing and guiding your company during this post-Brexit landscape is something I think we all identify with, be it trying to understand the complexities, monitoring the challenges, or taking advantage of the opportunities.
What do you like most about your role?
I love dealing with customers and helping them find a solution, but I also love being a part of the Customs Support team. It’s great to be able to share my knowledge with our people and then also be able to learn so much from my colleagues in other areas. Being able to have that group of knowledgeable people around you makes it so much better as we learn from each other.
You’re located in Newcastle. What’s the best thing about being there?
Newcastle is quite a diverse city. My brother teaches at the university here, so he has been able to give me an insightful tour of Newcastle central. There’s a lot of nightlife here, which is great because I am a very social person, but there is also the beach and my family here. The best thing is I get to be near my family.
What excites you the most about joining this network of customs experts?
The growth. It provides a lot of opportunities for me and my colleagues to develop our expertise. Being with such a knowledgeable group of customs experts makes me feel like part of something, and it excites me that we are going to grow together as we build the business going forwards.
Customs in the UK is an ever-changing landscape. How do you stay ahead?
I attend a lot of seminars and conferences, both online and in person. I’m a member of BIFA, have a lot of contacts in the industry, and also attend the Chamber of Commerce and parliament offices for meetings – although there was less opportunity to visit these during Covid. Whilst there have been uncertainties, it has been about having a plan A, a plan B, and so on, so that my customers and I could always be prepared.
It's not only about the UK side of things, either. I used to work in Miami and did 6 months in Australia and New Zealand, too. It’s been important for me to be on top of their developments – as well as changes in the EU – as these all have a knock-on effect on us [in the UK].
What do you like to do outside of work and how does that influence your work skills?
I’m quite a social person, and I’m also a family girl. I spend a lot of time on the beach or on country walks with my two dogs. My family and I have meals together, BBQs, that sort of thing. My work is so structured and regulated - and I need to be on the ball all the time – so having that time away to chill is really important for me.
What’s the most important thing to look for in a customs broker?
Transparency and trust. It’s important to me that a customer feels able to come to me and ask something, and that they don’t go away with more questions than they came with. I like to throw the doors wide open, shine a light on their query and simplify it for them. Customers panic when they don’t fully understand something, so it’s on us to guide them. It’s also essential for us to push back to our customers on what we need from them so that we can fulfil their needs. That relationship should be like a hand-in-hand partnership.
You are now part of a European network. If you were to visit any CSG office, which country would you go to and why?
Belgium. They have a lot of history and architecture, and – of course – they make the best chocolate!