Work efficiency is key in climbing the career ladder. However, according to Dickson Ho, manager of centre operations for UPS Parcel Delivery Service Ltd, passion and professionalism are equally essential in the parcel delivery business. For someone with these two qualities, he says, there is a multitude of opportunities for career advancement.
Mr Ho joined UPS in 1988, the year it was established in Hong Kong, and is a prime example of someone whose passion and dedication has paid off.
Initially Mr Ho worked as a service provider, responsible mainly for pickup and delivery tasks. Already a team leader then, he also assigned tasks to members of his team. He moved up the ranks to assistant supervisor, supervisor and then senior supervisor in no time. "As an assistant supervisor, I was working for the dispatching department and in charge of dispatching orders to other service providers. The key was to balance the workload from them and still achieve delivery efficiency," he explains.
When Mr Ho became a supervisor, he was transferred to the company's New Territories area. The challenge then was the shift of job nature, from non-management to management, and that was where the importance of communication kicked in.
"A willingness to learn and sound communication skills are the most important things"
The supervisory role also required him to assist in, as a way to improve his understanding of, other departments. "For example, I became involved with heavy parcels and in doing so I learned the logistics connected with larger shipments comprised of big piles of containers," he says. With these greater responsibilities and his years of experience, Mr Ho acquired a solid understanding of the overall operations of UPS.
In recognition of this, he was promoted to assistant manager when the Kwai Chung ATL centre opened in 2004. The following year he was again promoted to his current position. "My major responsibility now is to monitor the whole parcel delivery process by working closely with my colleagues to plan and allocate resources, control costs and manage our staff," he says.
His many daily duties keep him occupied. These include keeping track of the submitted reports from different departments, which are mainly records of service performance in the forms of charts or systems; and identifying areas that need improvement before coming up with solutions that can be implemented promptly.
He also meets corporate clients on a regular basis to understand client needs and create tailor-made business solutions accordingly. "We work closely with our clients to see how we can better enhance our services to them. This plays a crucial part in the company's improvement, especially when meeting our prerequisites for service quality," he explains.
In his future at the company Mr Ho foresees himself developing his managerial capacity, which will enable him to carry increased responsibilities in other operations areas. "I am definitely interested in exploring other operational lines within the industry. There are just so many options: logistics and distribution, service parts logistics, order fulfillment, transportation, ground, sea and air freight, freight forwarding, consulting services, supplier management, international trade management, customs brokerage and more," he says.
UPS currently employs more than 1,250 people in Hong Kong. It has a 141-vehicle delivery fleet, and runs 150 weekly flight segments to and from Hong Kong. With its extensive services and size, Mr Ho believes all employees are exposed to a variety of tasks, which helps them to develop professionally and to keep the work interesting.
After so many years on the job, Mr Ho feels a personal allegiance with the company. "It's like running my own business now," he jokes. "And in a way it is, since UPS allocates shares to the management when a set target is achieved, which further nurtures employees' sense of belonging."
UPS has performed outstandingly throughout the last two decades and Mr Ho believes it has been rewarded for this with its role as the Beijing 2008 Olympic logistic and express delivery sponsor.
"Most UPS staff begin as pickup and delivery service providers," Mr Ho says. "For newcomers who are interested in this industry, a willingness to learn and sound communication skills are the most important things. It really is a great place to work as can be seen by our low turnover rate — I am living proof of that — but I'm not the only one."