Zeyn Ismail joined the Supply Chain & Logistics graduate programme in 2015. He is currently an operations manager in Singapore.
Why did you choose the DHL Graduate Programme?
I served in the Merchant Navy prior to completing my degree in Global Business & Logistics so I already had some experience working in an industry responsible for transporting cargo around the world. DHL appealed to me because I wanted to work for a global company that could give me exposure to supply chain operations within a variety of different industries.
What was your favourite experience during the graduate programme?
One of the most rewarding moments for me happened during my second placement when I was a shift ops manager on the British Airways account. It was the go-live of BA’s new buy-onboard catering model and I had spent the previous few months on the project team responsible for re-modelling the entire operation to accommodate this major change in our service. We had worked hard to overcome a number of issues preparing for this transition and, when the go-live day came around, it was up to us to change the whole warehouse operation overnight. The first days and weeks after go-live were hard work and many long hours spent ironing out the bugs and stabilising the new operation but we got through this period and never failed to deliver on our customer’s expectations. The camaraderie in the team was awesome and we all shared a great sense of pride in having successfully brought off this major change.
What makes the DHL graduate programme unique?
The great thing about DHL is that, thanks to its varied customers, it plays a key role in the supply chain management of a huge number of different industries from manufacturing to FMCG to airline catering. Graduates that complete the programme will usually experience at least two placements working with very different customers giving them exposure to, not just one type of logistics operation, but a variety of environments. This gives you an invaluable breadth of experience as your career base.
What is your current role at DHL?
Towards the end of my second placement, I had the opportunity to join DHL’s APAC (Asia-Pacific) division. I am currently based in Singapore and working as an operations manager on the Infineon contract. Infineon produces semiconductors for a range of markets. It is DHL’s job to warehouse their product and process customer orders for global shipment. I lead a shift of 50 warehouse operatives (including 3 team leaders) and am responsible for day-to-day warehouse operations, resource planning and people management in a partly-automated 100,000 sq. foot distribution centre. I also play an active role in performance management, championing health & safety and in managing the P&L of the site as a whole.
What roles have you had since joining DHL?
My current role as operations manager in Singapore is my first off the graduate scheme. While on the programme, I completed my first placement as a freight planner on the Jaguar Land Rover contract in the European LLP team where I was able to implement cost-downs and drive efficiency in the collection network. My second placement put me onto the warehouse floor as a shift operations manager on the British Airways contract. In this role, I ran a shift of around 30 colleagues and joined the project team responsible for re-modelling the operation to accommodate BA’s transition to buy-onboard catering.
What type of person do you think is the right fit for DHL?
It takes individuals from all walks of life to make up this organisation and the right person would have to be enthusiastic about working with and engaging people from very different backgrounds. They must also be resilient in their approach and able to view every new challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow. It is hard-going at times but well worth it when you come out the other end and look back on all the knowledge and skills you’ve developed.
What advice would you give to future graduates on the DHL programme?
Treat these 2 short years as a learning curve and build up as much experience as you can. It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you can learn from them and keep sight of the developmental aspect. Volunteer to get involved in as many projects as you can keep up with. Put in a few extra hours in the office now and then and get exposed to different aspects of your operation. The experiences you have on the programme are an asset that can only make you a stronger leader.