Team spotlight – Elizabeth Pascoe, Customs Administrator

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This month we’ve managed to track down and speak to Lizzie Pascoe, one of our Customs Administrators. Lizzie 

Can you tell us more about your journey to becoming a customs administrator?  

I first started out at a shipping company and whilst that might sound like a pretty regular first job, it turned into a fascinating one. As a Shipping Administrator I arranged the shipping for all sorts of strange but amazing items that clients that either bought at auction or had in their attic. Honestly, some of the items that would come through the warehouse were quite unbelievable! One day we had Thor’s Hammer from the Marvel films, then another day we had an R2D2 made by someone’s Grandad from a washing machine. Because of how old some of the items were, they required special licences like CITES or they would be on temporary import.   

I started to become more and more interested in customs. I was interested in the different rules in each country and talking to people from around the world. From the shipping company, I moved to join a customs team as a Customs Officer. From there I learnt about BTI’s, Excise and explanatory notes – it was a big education and I loved it. The role was predominantly classifying the non-food products. From there I joined the TariffTel team where I continue to develop my experience and knowledge within classification, whilst using my administrative skills.   

What does a typical day at work look like for you?  

I don’t have a typical work day which keeps it interesting. I primarily help the classification specialists with research and run reports within TariffTel. Research can range from all sorts of items/garments. I go through BTI’s, ATR’s, Cross rulings and the WCO notes whether they fall in the US and EU/GB tariff. It’s not always the same commodity code for the US and EU/GB either, they could be on separate sides of the tariff which is interesting.  

At the end of each month I run a report within TariffTel which helps our clients manage their suppliers. I give them a breakdown from my data analysis of where their suppliers can improve in using TariffTel to its full potential. We put together guides to help suppliers select the correct item types to streamline the process. Since sending clients these reports, the data is significantly improving.   

What have been some of the most memorable moments in your work?  

The most memorable moment for me is at one of the auction houses I worked with in my shipping days. They did a Goodwood auction which had everything and anything related to cars and bikes. This particular sale had the Banksy 17-ton truck covered in graffiti called Turbo Zone Truck (Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be In Charge) 2000 valued at £1.5 million. We had big discussions in the office on how we would ship it – would we drive it if it was national? And how much wood would we need for international? 

The Goodwood auctions also include a lot of Formula 1 memorabilia and my husband and I are F1 fans. Two other memorable items that came through the warehouse for shipping were a Ceratanium IWC Pilot’s watch owned by Toto Wolff, head of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, and a 1:8 scale limited edition model of the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix winning McLaren Mercedes car signed by Lewis Hamilton. These caused a lot of excitement! 

What skills do people value and how can people find out more about the industry?    

I think the courses available at the Institute of Export of International Trade and Customs Academy are good to look at for anyone looking for qualifications in Customs.  

I think showing a genuine interest in the customs industry is important and there should be a balance of flexibility and adaptability in your work because changes in customs can happen quickly.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received with regards to work and what impact did it have?  

Mine is never underestimate the value of communication. Communication in a lot of places can be lacking and it’s okay to ask a question if you don’t understand something. Ask for that 1:1 with a colleague or manager to help you understand better or have a conversation with a colleague. It’s not always a comfortable thing to do but actually once you’ve done it a few times, it builds networks and I’ve found in the past people approach me and ask my opinion or clarification. I don’t always have the correct answer, but I will always listen and try to understand.  

What advice do you have for people working in the industry? 

I think communication and listening is a really important part of this industry because it isn’t straight forward. There’s a lot of research, reading and understanding of the Tariff. It’s important to hear other people’s opinion on their interpretation of the tariff. 

What advice do you have for people looking to get started in the industry?  

I think it depends on which area you are interested in. Customs Classification and Customs Clearance goes hand in hand. I started off on the logistical side of customs and I feel because of that, I understand the client’s frustration of moving goods around the world however, on the other hand, on customs classification side there is a lot of reading and research. Having a logical mindset as well is really important.  

What do you do for fun outside of work?  

I have an ex-racer greyhound called Willow, she loves a good walk but also gets bored very quickly if we are walking round the same routes so it encourages me to visit new places. My husband and I can often be found going out for the day with picnics or to find a good pub enroute! 

We look forward to sharing more stories from our talented team. Follow us on LinkedIn to hear more from our team and what they get up to. 

Want to hear more from our team? Here’s our TariffTel Systems Manager Elizabeth Davies talking about her life in and out of work. 

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