DHL Express Malaysia and Brunei Managing Director, Christopher Ong, says that for the millennial workforce, a job needs to be more than something that puts food on the table and a roof over their head. “They are looking beyond the pay cheque for jobs that not only interest them, but also have leaders who inspire them,” Christopher tells The CEO Magazine in October. “So to attract and retain the best talent, we need to have leaders who walk the talk and lead by example.”
Christopher joined the logistics and courier services company as Vice President of Business Development in Asia–Pacific in 2006, after 10 years at Singaporean investment company Temasek. In 2011, he was appointed Country Manager of DHL Express Vietnam and nearly three years later, took up the position of Managing Director of DHL Express Malaysia and Brunei.
For Christopher, the most important pillar of the company’s success is having motivated people who deliver quality service to its customers, because it is these customers who will, in turn, recommend DHL to their friends, family and business associates. “It then gives us the financial resources to invest in our people as well as our ‘Big Yellow Machine’, as we affectionately call the DHL network,” Christopher says.
“Beyond financial resources, we invest significant time and energy to ensure that our DHL colleagues are highly engaged and work in a great environment with active leaders who coach, engage and equip them to have the best day, every day.”
There is a strong emphasis on training and development at DHL. “We expect our leaders to be excellent supervisors and managers, who get the best out of their teams,” Christopher says. “We provide them with training not just in technical skills, but also in soft skills. We train them in how to engage and coach their teams, how to inspire them through stories, and how to be a leader who delivers results without compromising respect – our guiding principle. My directors and I facilitate such training so that we walk the talk for our people.”
Become global and digital
To deliver a better service, the company has been involved in initiatives such as DHL Cross-Border Trade workshops with eBay and Amazon. It also works closely with the Malaysian Government’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation and MATRADE (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation) to facilitate deliveries.
“All of these activities combine to enable the local Malaysian SMEs to trade globally using the internet,” Christopher explains. “It has really brought our purpose and focus as a company – to connect people and improve lives – to the fore, and motivates our people even more. Our teams can see first-hand the tangible impact we are making on the lives of entrepreneurs and their communities when we enable them to sell their wares all over the world.”
It is through innovation that the company stays ahead of its competitors. “As the business environment and technology evolves, we have to change in order to remain relevant to the customer and the consumer,” Christopher says. “There have been many examples industry giants but did not evolve fast enough, and have now become obsolete. We are constantly on the lookout for new technologies that can enhance the quality and productivity of our business.
“One example is our deployment of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) which is used in our backend billing processes. It has taken over routine tasks previously performed by our people and frees up their time to address other issues before they get to a customer.”
The company is also making progress in providing customers with environmentally responsible shipping options. This is through its GoGreen initiative, a company-wide environmental protection program that aims to reduce its logistics-related carbon emissions to zero by 2050. The initiative includes implementing electric vehicles and bicycles for first and last mile service, and getting the DHL team involved in climate protection activities.
“We want to continue to raise the bar in delivering A superior customer experience.”
Into the future, DHL will be focusing on ecommerce solutions for both its B2B and B2C markets. “We want to continue to raise the bar in delivering a superior customer experience through digitalisation and providing access to the correct technology and innovation that will enable our people to create better customer experiences,” Christopher says. “And most importantly, we will continue to engage our people through recognition, learning and development, and empower them to make a difference. They are the foundation of our success.”