The workweek of a Customs & Trade Advisor.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we have chosen to put our colleague Lilian in the spotlight. Because where most people think that being a customs declarant is a dusty profession, Lilian likes to prove the contrary and tells her story of how she has grown within the customs world.
The workweek of a Customs & Trade Advisor.

I am Lilian Retel, Advisor Customs & Trade. Advisor sounds even dustier than customs declarant I think, but today I would like to show you the opposite.

13 years ago, I started my career as a junior customs clerk at a small customs broker. I completed that job for over 8 years until I got the opportunity to work as a consultant. In this function, I was “loaned” to companies that did not have the customs knowledge themselves, for example for making customs declarations, classifying goods, or setting up their own customs department. It was via one of these assignments, I eventually started working as a customs manager, but even though my role grew, I still I missed out on dealing with complex day to day issues.

Since May last year, I have been working at Gaston Schul Legal & Consulting as a customs & trade advisor. Where my colleagues take care of customs declarations, I (together with two colleagues) deal with more complex issues, but also support customers who need us to find a solution for their customs needs – for example they may want to start their own customs warehouse, but lack the knowledge and guidance, and that’s where we come in.

Curious how my week can look like? I would like to take you with me!

On Monday I like to start the week quietly, and because I manage my own agenda that is not a problem. I decide to go to the office to work on the procedures that still need to be drawn up for my client who is in the middle of applying for his AEO permit. There is also a request for advice on preferential origin, so I spend a few hours on that too. In the end, the advice is ready on time, and I have expanded my own knowledge. Diving completely into the subject matter for the customer, I love it!

On Tuesday, I get to do something I love best: visit a client! This time a potential new client, with whom I first have an orientation meeting to determine whether we have a opportunity to help and support. This company has noticed the impact of Brexit. Where they never had to prepare customs documents before, they now must do so daily. Due to importing in from China, they pay unnecessary import duties within the EU for the goods that are re-exported. So, we are going to determine how profitable it is to set up a customs warehouse. In the afternoon, I draw up an offer and plan of approach for this, which includes a complete overview of the licenses that need to be applied for and the costs involved.

Before I know it the week is already half over. Once again, I feel like working at the office, because today I have my weekly meeting with the client, I am assisting with the AEO permit. We’re right on schedule, so no one needs to be chased today 😉 Just kidding, of course, although the project-based management of such a permit application does require us to keep a close eye on the deadlines and make sure everyone carries out their tasks. Not only advisor but also project manager! This variety in the work ensures good dynamics and motivation.

On Thursdays and Fridays, my days are not very different. Because I have already been out of the office for a few days, I decide to work at home. There are still some ad hoc customer questions in my mailbox, and I help several customers with their classification issues. Some time ago, I gave them a workshop on classification, and now that they have started classifying their database themselves, they can approach me for additional explanation.

As you can read, a nice and energetic week! The variety of visiting clients, working at the office, and working from home is a must for me, and that is exactly what I get at Gaston Schul. Isn’t there anything nicer than sharing your acquired knowledge with your customers?

Curious about what we can mean for your company with customs matters? Then click here.