Meet Helen McNamara – customs clearance agent with Allied Fleet Services

Helen McNamara, originally from Doonbeg in Co. Clare and now living in Armagh, is a customs clearance agent with transportation company Allied Fleet Services. The Armagh-based company set up a customs department last December to help firms negotiate the new paperwork required as a result of Brexit.

Q: What does a typical day entail?

A: A typical day is very busy! We clear all types of goods moving through the continent of Europe and Great Britain – issuing imports, exports, safety and security declarations, and making sure our customers have the smoothest transition through ports as possible.

Q: What was your route into the company?

A: I was recommended by a close friend so I applied and went through the interview process and lucky me got the job.

Q:How long have you been involved in this type of work?

A: Since last year when the customs section was set up.

Q:What did you do before this?

A: I used to train people in customer service for Bank of Ireland.

Q: What were your favourite subjects at school and why?

A: At school I was a real big lover of languages and I think that’s where my love of travel came into play.

Q: Did you go on to university or further education and what did you study?

A: I didn’t go to college after secondary school. My further education came later in life when I was in Australia and that’s where I studied business management.

Q: Did you always have this career in mind?

A: Honestly, no! I learned a lot about the Brexit transition from the media, so I started to do a little research to see how this would affect Northern Ireland and Great Britain in the long run, so I guess my interest stemmed from there.

Q: What do you enjoy about your job?

A: I love the diversity. Every single day is different. One day we could be clearing the Pfizer vaccine, the next we could be clearing live animals.

Q: What are the main skills required?

A: Good IT skills, great customer service and an understanding of customs.

Q: What would your advice be to anyone thinking of it as a career?

A: Go for it. I always say what’s for you won’t pass you. Customs changes every day so if you like a fast-paced work environment and are willing to learn something new and put the work in to learn, why not? I am learning something new every day and I work as part of a great team.

Q: Is there career progress within the company?

A: I am currently doing my Level 4 in customs clearance and, hopefully after that, Level 5. It is a growing industry at the moment.

Q: If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?

A: This is the best job in the world!

Q: How do you relax when you’re not working?

A: I love to shop, drink coffee and, of course, I have a good social life.

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