Launched in 1999, DHL’s management trainee programme attracted about 1,300 applicants last year, all of them keen to join one of the top international logistics companies.
A rigorous selection process, including group and individual interviews, written tests, discussions and presentations, means that only 10 or so graduates are likely to receive offers to join the scheme.
Those who are accepted undertake a well-structured, three-year programme before moving on to specific jobs within the organisation. These assignments depend on company requirements and, generally, last for one to two years.
“Typically, postings during the training period will introduce different aspects of the business including freight management, logistics operations and business development,” says Edward Hui, managing director, Hong Kong, Macau and South China, at DHL Global Forwarding (Hong Kong). “This gives management trainees a strong foundation in all-round supply chain management operations, as well as general management skills.”
Shenzhen-based Archie Lai joined the programme in 2000 and, as DHL’s general manager for commercial activities in South China, oversees seven offices there.
“During my three years of training, I worked in the operations and commercial teams in frontline and middle management positions,” Lai says. “Even though I was a trainee, the company let me handle deals with major clients. Of course, I didn’t do that on my own. They gave me support and guidance, which helped me to handle different assignments and conclude deals successfully.”
Third-year trainee Winnie Chan says she chose this programme because it offers a clear career path and has a very good image.
“I have learned a lot by working for different departments,” says Chan, who is the implementation executive for performance management in Hong Kong. “The business environment is dynamic; everything changes rapidly, including client requirements, and government regulations and various policies, so it is challenging. You have to learn fast, but I enjoy it.”
Hui notes that graduates from any discipline are welcome to apply. Applicants should be keen to pursue a career in supply chain management and should have good analytical, interpersonal and language skills. They should also be self-motivated, customer-oriented and open-minded.
After completing the programme, trainees can expect to move into a senior supervisory position based on their performance. In some cases, this has meant assignments in places as far-flung as London, Dallas, Taipei, Beijing, Zhongshan and Zhuhai.
Supply track tips
Candidates should be abl to demonstrate excellent problem-solving skills
Show a keen interest in pursuing a career in supply chain management
Have an overall understanding of the company and industry
Understand that teamwork and good relationships with co-workers are vital