People-first philosophy pays dividends

by Isabella Lee

Clifton Chua, managing director
Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines
FedEx Express
Photo: Courtesy of FedEx Express

Career development initiatives produce a strong team

With increasing rivalry for the best talent, it takes more than large pay packages to attract and retain people. Most staff these days seek out workplaces where they are allowed to contribute and excel.

"To accommodate employees from diverse backgrounds and to ensure that we are developing our staff, we have created an environment at FedEx that enables employees to learn and develop their knowledge of new tools and technology," says Clifton Chua, managing director, Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines, FedEx Express.

As part of its people-first philosophy, the worldwide express transportation company is committed to workforce training and creating a life-long learning atmosphere. It has a tradition of developing employees to their highest potential by offering a multitude of learning tools, including classroom training, field workshops and e-learning programmes.

Staff members receive about 50 hours of training on average, while management and professional employees spend about 40 hours in classroom training every year. FedEx also runs a tuition assistance programme, a reimbursement scheme granting financial assistance amounting to US$2,500 each year to all its fulltime employees and US$1,250 to part-time employees. The aim is to encourage eligible employees to get additional higher formal education as well as professional certification to increase their career-growth opportunities within the company.

Also in place is a dedicated Training & Performance Enhancement programme that focuses purely on employees' job capabilities. The company's management team, with more than 80 years of combined professional experience, is supported by 75 experienced full-time trainers located throughout Asia Pacific.

"In Asia, we have the GOLD (growth, opportunity, leadership and development) programme, which provides employees with the opportunity to advance into management," Mr Chua adds. "We also have an 'Is management for me?' programme devoted to teaching employees the fundamental requirements to become a manager."

FedEx managers are required to participate in a certain amount of training, which may include mandatory programmes designed for management or external training.

"It is vital for our managers to be team players and understand the larger picture of what they are doing — and how it affects the service we deliver to our customers. We want our employees to show that they understand our customers' perspectives and orient everything they do towards providing the right level of service. Plus, they need to be resourceful in finding creative solutions to unexpected challenges with the support of their teams," Mr Chua points out.

Quality people

Experience in the transportation service or air-cargo industries is an advantage for the position of operations manager, as individuals in this role have to plan, direct and control all aspects of operations within the area which they are responsible for on a daily basis, according to Mr Chua.

The job also includes implementing new plans and initiatives with the objective of providing progressive leadership for the workgroup, exceeding service commitments and customer satisfaction, generating revenue, and maintaining an efficient and cost-effective operation.

To apply for the position, a bachelor's degree or equivalent is the basic academic qualification. Applicants with five years' business experience in a management role are preferred. In some categories of operations, a valid driver's licence with excellent driving record is a must.

"Technical expertise such as a thorough understanding of all country regulations, knowledge of FedEx operations, customs clearance, systems, services, policies and procedures, as well as fluency in English and local languages are taken into account," Mr Chua explains. "At FedEx, we are always looking for talented individuals who are enthusiastic and willing to go the extra mile," he adds.

"As Hong Kong has been an international logistics hub for many years, it has a pool of talented people with the appropriate skills, experience, knowledge and flexibility in working with people from different nations. At FedEx, we constantly find talented people who can deliver a high level of customer service and meet our Purple Promise commitment to make every FedEx experience outstanding."

Newly appointed operations managers take part in compulsory operations training as well as mandatory managerial training programmes covering a range of methodologies to gain the necessary know-how. These include mandatory and intensive management skills, station operations management, gateway operations management, leadership principles and management-applied personal skills.

"When we set out to recruit top people, we look for candidates with both attitude and aptitude. They must be able to adapt to change, as we face many changes and challenges. In addition, a strong sense of timing is crucial as every day is a race against time," Mr Chua notes.

Apart from benefits such as life insurance, retirement benefits, medical and dental care and reduced shipping rates, FedEx employees are assured of working in an open and rewarding environment. In accordance with the company's "promotion from within" policy, all team members have the opportunity to progress in their careers. The company also has a number of award programmes to recognise outstanding performance and other contributions by employees.


Taken from Career Times 21 September 2007
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