Project Description

Vincent Iacopella
Executive Vice President Growth and Strategy
Alba Wheels Up International Inc.

How did you get your first job in this field?

I worked in a warehouse in college and briefly worked in my family’s import/export business. I was on the phone with customs brokers every day and one of them happened to ask me if I would be interested in working in Los Angeles to work on import projects. I was 21 at the time and Southern California was a booming location filled with opportunity, especially for international trade. The area was drawing a lot of investment and talent. My first project was to work on the importation of raw materials for the Wilshire Courtyard building.

What was your career path?

Back in the day there weren’t a lot of industries where a 22-year- old could enter at the bottom of the ladder and, within a couple of weeks, start dealing with people on the other side of the world. In other industries, you have to wait until mid-management until you get to interact with people in different countries. After working on the Wilshire Courtyard project I received my customs broker license. Getting my license changed my career trajectory. I got involved heavily in imports – dealing with import requirements, freight service, etc. Then I got more involved in customer relationship, talking about import/regulatory challenges with retail goods customers. Afterwards I went into management and this experience on the customer relationship side eventually transitioned to the growth side. I still focus on compliance and the innovative services that we offer and that meet the needs of the customers.

What are the toughest challenges you face?

Because I am in a more creative space at this point in my career, I come across so many great opportunities that I have to discipline my team and myself to prioritize those projects. I need to make sure they are aligned to the company’s strategies and goals. Being able to say no to certain things is tough, but necessary.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing a smaller company that we’ve partnered grow and succeed. I’m lucky that I can watch that happen over a couple of years. Even small successes, like fixing a simple problem on exporting goods or getting licenses for clients, is rewarding. We improve supply chain transit times for our clients and I know that will help lead them to achieve their own goals and success.

How do you see the future of the profession? What are the positions in this field with the most potential for growth?

The rise of e-commerce will demand that logistics not only adjust but actually come up with solutions to the new opportunities and challenges it creates. It is changing the way inventories are moving across borders and who has title to the goods. Technology is changing our customers’ industries, and we need to evolve with them. As processes get more automated and data-driven, technology and analytics will grow in importance.

At the same time, because things are made in several countries, and because of the speed at which supply chain is moving, the regulatory side of logistics will become more important than ever: consumer product safety, export control compliance, import revenue compliance, etc. Moreover, many countries will try to balance imports with more exports.