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People of the CRCBFA - Sarah Adams


What brought you in to the International Trade Industry?

My mom’s insistence that I stop trying to find a job “on my own,” put my humble pants on, and apply to a temp agency. Shout-out to Northwest Staffing, who immediately [and quite perfectly] placed me at Geo. S. Bush. I had previously been working in an art gallery, and was craving a job where I could use the analytical side of my brain a bit more.

What do you love most about being involved with the CRCBFA?

Luncheons, seminars, board meetings, and any opportunity to learn and connect with others in this crazy yet continually intriguing industry.

Who in the industry has been an inspiration to you?

Although he does not work specifically in the trade community, I was deeply impressed by Representative Blumenaur’s visit to the CRCBFA General Membership Meeting in the spring of 2014. I found him to be humble, personable, informed on our issues, amusingly irreverent, logical, soft-spoken in manner, and yet still strong with his words. In any profession, I believe it is easy to think that you need to be the best, the most impressive, the one that turns heads, but Blumenaur demonstrated that it is the content of your work, and not the flashiness of your persona, that matters.

In your career so far, what has been the best moment?

For me, there have been two, and they relate to my involvement of the CRCBFA. The first was redesigning and launching the new CRCBFA website, which could not have been done without the many people who supported that change. The second would be researching and writing the blog post on the Trade Promotion Authority.

If you could instantly become an expert on any one aspect of this industry, what would it be and why?

ADD/CVD because it is a far reaching Priority Trade Issue that has and will have great impact on both broker and importers for a long time to come. I think it is complicated both in regulation and in practice and is often misunderstood.

If you had one piece of advice for people just getting started in Customs Brokerage and Freight Forwarding what would it be?

Learn and decide how you, personally, are going to deal with the little frustrations that slow down day-to-day tasks. What is your tactic going to be? Sometimes the faxes will not go through, your contact at a given company will up and leave, the pen and ink corrections on your 3461 will take too long to get updated, the steamship line will not extend the LFD. I choose to try and identify why something goes wrong the first time around - no matter how small the issue may be - so that I can expect it the next time, and take action to prevent it. Knowing that I have the ability to understand the reason for a problem gives me power to improve my situation, rather than being repeatedly tossed around in a maelstrom of the same technical and communication glitches.

You're planning the industry event of the year. (Could be a conference, dinner, golf, whatever you want it to be). Importers, Exporters, Customs, FDA, FWS, DOT, USDA, all the PGS's, Census, Brokers, Forwarders, and Carriers are coming. What is your theme?

The theme would be…. K.I.S.S. [Keep It Simple, Silly]. We make things way too difficult for each other! Group emails addresses are helpful! Faxing is a time-waster! Put your contact info in your email signatures! I’d have to do actual planning and research to really put together an effective program, but you get the jist.

If you could instantly become an expert on any one aspect of this industry, what would it be and why?

I am currently on a legislation kick. So my current answer would be trade legislation history. Excuse me while I push my glasses up on the bridge of my nose so they don’t fall off while I’m hunched over reading a Congressional Service Report timeline on the history of the authority formerly known as “Fast Track”.

And last but not least, what are some of your favorite reads?

My current favorite work of fiction is Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.” Spoiler alert! Frankenstein is the name of the scientist, not the “monster.” For non-fiction, I recommend “The Educated Imagination” by Northrop Frye, “The Will to Change” by bell hooks, “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn, and “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl.

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