A tough path to the top
Kerry Logistics sets demanding standards for its management trainees and wants only passionate and committed individuals
The competition to get into the management training programme at Kerry Logistics is fierce. The company selects a mere six to 10 individuals for the programme, which is in its eighth year, from more than 1,000 applicants a year.
The 13-month programme aims to familiarise trainees with the operations of the company. It provides them with the opportunity to rotate in two of the three main operations, which are freight, distribution and logistics.
Moreover, trainees have the chance to work in different support functions, including human resources, accounting and information technology. They are also exposed to the trading and merchandising sides of the business. 'After completion of the programme, trainees will have the chance to become assistant managers and managers and proceed to work at the executive level,' said Ivy Wong, director of human resources and administration. 'They might take up international, local or global positions.'
About 80 per cent of the trainees complete the programme. 'We try to find people who are really interested in working in logistics,' Ms Wong said. 'We invest in them and hope they will eventually work at our company after the training.'
Although priority is given to logistics graduates, the company welcomes university graduates from any discipline with a passion and commitment to work in the industry. 'When we do the interviews, we try to choose people who are able to multitask,' Ms Wong said. 'A foundation in logistics, knowledge of local and global logistics, and good language skills in Cantonese, Putonghua and English are also expected.'
Applicants have to pass four stages to enter the programme. The first stage consists of a group presentation to test the communication skills of the candidates. They then have to complete a language test followed by an individual interview. The final stage is a session where candidates have the chance to meet managers from different functions and departments.
Experienced and dedicated trainers guide and groom trainees into future leaders of the industry by providing hands-on working experience in the different key areas of the business. They also give on-the-job training that equips trainees with the skills to cope with different circumstances.
'I applied for this management trainee programme because Kerry Logistics has a strong network in China,' said Julianna Lee Yim-kiu, a former management trainee who is now an assistant officer, global business, with the company. 'We were given the opportunity to take part in different jobs and to express and implement our ideas.' As a logistics graduate, she believes there is a common misconception that logistics involves hard physical labour. 'The fact is we are given various duties and jobs, opportunities to make decisions and a lot of support to build up a network in the company.'
'We were given the chance to plan and execute projects and I learned how to run a profitable business and, at the same time, please our clients,' said Kelvin Chong Chin-hung, another former management trainee. Mr Chong, a logistics officer at Kerry, quickly adapted to the working environment and developed a keen interest in the industry while building up his communication skills when talking to colleagues and clients. 'The logistics industry is developing fast and [there are] many opportunities,' he said. 'Our company is Asia-based and China-focused. With the many investments in China, I was able to be in touch with many clients.'
Both Ms Lee and Mr Chong enjoyed the trainee programme and have gained plenty of knowledge about the industry.
'However, there are many areas in the company, including freight, distribution and global business [that I need to learn more about],' Ms Lee said.
Kerry Logistics is controlled by the Kuok Group, the controlling shareholder of the SCMP Group, which publishes the South China Morning Post.