Supply Chain Excellence – Transport Manager

Hunter Campbell’s Supply Chain Excellence Series profiles jobs within the Supply Chain job family including jobs in demand, salaries, and employment prospects.

In this article, the role of Transport Manager is in the spotlight.

Purpose of the Role 

Transport is all about moving goods throughout the supply chain and it falls under the ‘Move’ function of the SCOR model (Supply Chain Operations Reference). A Transport Manager is responsible for coordinating and leading their teams to effectively carry out each movement whether that be from importing materials, moving raw materials to production facilities, finished goods from production to warehousing, through to final mile delivery to retailers and consumers. The overall goal of a Transport Manager is to ensure that goods are transported accurately (DIFOT), safely and that the right mode of transport is used for the product and the overall cost.  

A Transport Manager position can have many varied responsibilities depending on the nature of the business which we will discuss in this article.

What does a Transport Manager do?  

Essentially, the role of a Transport Manager is to manage the movement of goods throughout their Supply Chain. There can be many varieties in responsibilities of a Transport Manager position and roles will vary depending on the business model. For the purpose of this article, we will break this down between a Transport Manager working in-house and also working for an external provider. 


Working as a Transport Manager in-house will be for either a company that manufacturers or is an import/distribution business. If the company manufacture, then the Transport Manager will likely be involved with transportation of raw materials from overseas via sea, air or from local suppliers. This will involve working closely with their production teams and then through to moving finished goods post production to either in-house warehousing or to their 3PL partners operations. The company may have their own fleet of vehicles or contract out to an external provider. You will manage and oversee these transport movements and the commercial arrangements of these agreements.  

An import and distribution business will not have a raw materials component to the role but will oversee the movement of finished goods from suppliers to their in-house or 3PL warehousing. Like a manufacturing business, they may have their own fleet of vehicles or contract to an external provider.  

If the in-house business has their own fleet of vehicles then the Transport Manager will be responsible for route planning and optimisation of their fleet through to managing drivers and all transport costs, likely running a cost centre or P&L (Profit and Loss). Depending on the size of the business you may have fleet support from a Fleet Manager and you may have a team of Transport Planner or Coordinators to support with day to day operations.  

An in-house Transport Manager will also be a key link in the business to work closely with the S&OP team to ensure the ‘Move’ element of the Supply Chain runs smoothly and in line with their forecasts.  


External refers to specialist transport providers and a large majority of New Zealand businesses rely on these carriers to move their goods from point A to B. External providers are industry specialists and tend to have a much larger and specialised fleet and linehaul network in place that it makes sense to partner with these companies with an outsourced model.  

As a Transport Manager for an external provider, this can be a very busy and demanding role as you are moving freight for a number of customers with various key requirements that you need to be across as well ensuring your fleet and network runs smoothly.  

Some of the key responsibilities of an external Transport Manager could include:  

Route planning – a key responsibility is to plan and optimise delivery routes. Factors to consider will include distance travelled, traffic, fuel efficiencies and working around delivery timings for customers. If the business has linehaul operations, planning of linehaul trucks and wagons to ensure effective load, planning will be another key responsibility. Effective load planning will also help to reduce costs and improve profit margins, so getting the right product mix and load planning is crucial. Working with an effective TMS (Transport Management System) is becoming ever important to ensure effective planning for a Transport Manager.  

Driver management – drivers will either be employed by the company or as Owner Drivers who contract to the company and own specific “runs” with their own fleet. Managing your team of drivers will be a key focus for a Transport Manager to manage their specific runs and contractual agreements around anticipated volumes and driver payments. Recruiting drivers will also likely be a key focus given the demand for finding talented drivers.  

Fleet management – if the company have their own fleet then this will likely be another key area for a Transport Manager to be across. Fleet management could include overseeing the maintenance, acquisition and disposition of the fleet along with ensuring the fleet meets all compliance and safety regulations. A larger business may have a dedicated Fleet Manager in the company although you would be working closely around overall fleet performance and operations.  

Cost and contract management – a Transport Manager will likely be responsible for a P&L and will be reporting across their budgets to ensure their costs are well controlled and kept within the respective budgets. Contracts to manage could include managing supplier relationships across Owner Drivers, fuel partners, technology through to transport partners such as rail and ferry operations too.  

Risk management – keeping up to date with industry regulations, safety standards and environmental laws will be a key focus for a Transport Manager.


A Transport Manager could progress into this role from many different avenues.  

Many successful candidates in New Zealand have started from the ‘bottom up’, progressing from driving and loading trucks and worked their way up into leadership positions. Having this practical experience has proven extremely valuable given the ‘hands on’ nature of the industry. In recent years, we have seen candidates come through from University pathways, working their way through companies across transport, logistics and into leadership positions.  

There are also excellent certifications available through NZPICS such as their CSCP course (Certified Supply Chain Professional) which will cover transport and logistics management.  

It is common for Transport Managers to have other key certifications such as Health and Safety and leadership training.

Key Skills Required 

We typically see that a successful Transport Manager is a practical person by nature and can lead from the front. You are often in a leadership position and will lead large teams so the ability to proactively engage your team and do so with Health and Safety top of mind is paramount. You need to be able to work with multiple stakeholders across drivers, operators, customers, suppliers to C suite level. Having the ability to influence and lead across these levels is a key skill.  

On top of the above, being a strong negotiator around contract management and commercial relationships is another key skill. We have also seen an increased demand for Transport Managers to be skilled with using TMS systems and Telematic tools with an analytical approach to driving efficiencies across transport.

Career Prospects 

The pathway of a Transport Manager can vary greatly depending on the nature and size of the company and the industry they operate within as well as whether they are working within an in-house or external role. A large company may have multiple sites across New Zealand and there could be a pathway to progress through to Regional and then National Transport Manager positions.  

For an in-house Transport Manager, again depending on the size of the business, there could be pathways to move into a National role or to also take on Logistics and Warehousing responsibilities. Further pathways would be through to General Manager Operations or higher.

Recruitment Forecast 

An experienced and effective Transport Manager will continue to be a position in demand regardless of market conditions. 

Whilst there are current cost pressures for all companies and an unknown economy over the next 12-18 months, companies are certainly recognising the value an experienced Transport Manger can have on their business. We believe the role of a Transport Manager will evolve with technology and there will be further demand for leading with practical transport experience along with analytical skills and the ability to use systems to improve performance. This will be the case for continued improvements around fuel, route planning, fleet and people.

Salary Guide 

This information is anecdotal and based on roles Hunter Campbell is currently recruiting or has previously recruited and relate to base salaries. They do not include any additional bonuses or benefits. 

Intermediate: $130,000 – $150,000 

Advanced: $150,000 to $200,000 

National/Regional: $200,000 + 

The salaries of Transport Managers can vary considerably depending on responsibilities and the functions they are responsible for.  

As discussed, a Transport Manager could cover varying levels of responsibility depending on the business model they work within. A salary will greatly vary depending on the functions each Transport Manager has and the complexity i.e., fleet, number of transport sites regionally or nationally through to international shipping and manufacturing exposure. Team leadership and the size and complexity of their team(s) is also important to consider too. 

If you would like to find out more about the role of a Transport Manager, please contact consultant Nick McConnochie. Nick specialises in the recruitment of Supply Chain, Distribution and Logistics. For more news and views, visit our website by clicking here, see what opportunities we have available here or follow us on LinkedIn.

Back to Insights