Charles Lester has travelled around a lot in his career. The 51-year-old manages Navistar’s logistics network in North America and makes sure that garages receive spare parts for trucks and buses from the International and IC Bus brands as quickly as possible.
“I met my wife in Memphis, Tennessee, our first daughter was born in Houston, Texas, and our second in Trenton, New Jersey,” Charles Lester says. As a New York native, Lester has worked in the distribution sector for 25 years, during which he has lived in seven different US states. He joined Navistar almost ten years ago and is responsible for the company’s nine warehouses in North America — six in the US, two in Canada, and one in Mexico. “I like being on the move and I enjoy trying new things,” Lester explains. “Both in my job and in my personal life, like when it comes to food or culture.”
Even though US states have a lot in common, Charles Lester’s experience working and living in a variety of places has been very different. People in New York have a different mentality than people in Atlanta. Not to mention that there is a huge difference between managing a warehouse in Mexico and one in Canada. Lester’s motto for handling differences: keep an open mind, learn, and adapt. The thing that the distribution expert appreciates the most about his job is the variety of impressions and inspiration you get from different locations across North America. The immediate sense of achievement is also a bonus: “We have KPIs that we check every day: have we delivered all orders on time? Was anything damaged during loading? Was the work safe for the employees to carry out?” the manager explains. “When I look at the numbers every morning, I can see exactly what we achieved the day before.”
Being part of the TRATON GROUP opens up new opportunities to get to know more cultures and ways of working, which Charles Lester thinks is very exciting: “We have only just begun working with our international colleagues. I have been able to make some connections and look forward to deepening them further.” The “Leading the future” program, which sees experts and managers from all TRATON brands come together on a regular basis, offers the chance to do just that. The program is also about getting to know each other better and swapping best practices. “I am particularly interested in what our colleagues do differently to us. That way, I might be able to come up with solutions we at Navistar had never even thought of before,” he says.
Lester does not rule out relocating again in the future. When asked if he can imagine moving to one of the Group’s locations in Europe or Brazil, he says with a laugh: “If I got the offer today, my bags would be packed tomorrow and my house would be up for sale the day after.” Lester also enjoys learning new things in his spare time: he is currently teaching himself to play musical instruments. He used to play saxophone and bass clarinet in high school. He is now learning to play the drums, and last Christmas he bought himself a bass guitar. His goal: “Our daughters play instruments, so I use this as an opportunity to bond with them.”