SUPPLY CHAIN management is now considered a highly specialised industry. Local tertiary institutions have, therefore, introduced a range of academic courses for those interested in a career in this field. Hong Kong Polytechnic University set up a department of logistics in 2003 to offer degree programmes in international shipping and transport logistics. It claims these programmes are unique in the region, and that graduates can expect bright career prospects and diverse job opportunities. Ivan Poon, general manager, DHL Express Hong Kong, said: 'Our company has recorded double-digit growth in the past few years, and we need more talent to service the increasing demands of customers. 'Logistics is a fast-growing industry and demand for labour consistently outstrips supply.' He pointed out that the qualifications and experience required depended on the position, and that soft skills were a vital consideration. 'Most importantly, we are looking for people with a customer-oriented attitude. Dedication, passion, versatility and professionalism are as necessary as academic qualifications,' Mr Poon said. This is evident in DHL's 24-hour customer service centre, where staff are expected to provide personalised service. The company has, in fact, decided against implementing an electronic call management system. This has been appreciated by many customers, who like dealing directly with knowledgeable personnel. The company has taken its commitment to customer service further by opening a logistics management 'university' in Shanghai in September last year. The training programme is for customers and employees at various levels from the region. The aim is to offer 7,500 training positions in the first year of operations and to train 2,000 employees by the end of this year.