DHL sets up a unique in-house training university in Shanghai after listening to what its staff want TRAINING EMPLOYEES is as important for DHL as being able to deliver goods at any time, anywhere. In October last year, the global giant opened the DHL Logistics Management University in Shanghai, an in-house platform for developing logistics and supply chain specialists for its network. The establishment of this unique corporate university was an indication that the company was serious about listening to its employees, as the decision was a direct result of an employee opinion survey conducted in December 2004. Serene Wong, vice-president of human resources for DHL Express, Greater China, said the company had wasted no time in setting up the in-house campus in Shanghai. 'From the opinion survey results, we understood from our employees that we could do more in the area of training and development,' Ms Wong said. 'We further commissioned a study to find out specific areas we need to focus on to meet those needs. We found the greatest need in leadership development, which can be directly linked to career progression.' Ms Wong said the main reason for employees leaving companies was the lack of opportunities to develop and advance one's career. 'We want to create a conducive work environment to nurture professionalism, creativity and innovation among DHL employees, which in turn leads to innovative products and improved services for our customers,' she said. While it was too early to list the direct benefits of the university, Ms Wong said there had been a slight improvement in the retention rate. The university curriculum is divided into two categories - skill-based courses and management and leadership development programmes. The curriculum also covers all areas of logistics, including air express solutions, freight forwarding, transport, spare parts logistics, measurement and optimisation of supply chains, vendor management solutions and contract logistics. Ms Wong said all areas of logistics were important, so it was essential for the curriculum to cover the entire range of subjects. 'All our frontline staff are required to know all aspects of logistics in general as well as their respective areas of responsibility,' she said. Employees are trained according to specific business needs. This year, the aim is to offer 7,500 training positions to junior managers and senior managers. A typical training session runs for three days to five days with the content mix being equally practical and theoretical. As a bonus, trainees who successfully complete management development programmes at the DHL university will be given credits for specific elective modules at several universities and business schools that have partnered with DHL. These include the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the US and the Australian Graduate School of Management. This tie-up opens the door for graduates of DHL university to acquire further academic qualifications. Although there are 20 course trainers, training managers and curriculum developers delivering more than 40 programmes, participants can also complete their studies online. Ms Wong said the university was part of the company's strategy to build a strong employer brand - a company that people wanted to work for and admired. 'Our investment in establishing a physical learning facility also highlights our commitment to business in Greater China and the Asia-Pacific, and to improve the professional standards of the industry.' Indeed, the market in China is proving to be lucrative for the logistics company. Last year, DHL recorded a growth rate of between 50 per cent and 60 per cent in the mainland over the previous year and now has a 40 per cent market share. Ms Wong said the logistics university would play a key role in building and attracting the talent pool required to manage and facilitate the strong growth that DHL was experiencing in the Asia-Pacific region. Eyeing the future The DHL Logistics Management University has been established to attract and retain the best in the industry. The in-house university has its campus in Shanghai. It is the result of an employee opinion survey, which found that the company could do more in the area of training and development. The campus has been appreciated by employees. It will offer 7,500 training places this year. Courses cover the entire spectrum of the logistics industry.