Case Studies

Kyle Robertson - Head of Product Development

Company Name: DHL Supply Chain

Location: Birmingham – DHL Supply Chain

As a graduate of Law, people are always asking me how I ended up working for DHL Supply Chain. Put simply, it was because DHL offered such a wide range of opportunities to follow numerous career paths in a global business. Opportunities such as these are open to graduates with any degree.

How I got started
I started working for DHL at the age of 18 as a driver to fund my lifestyle through University. I was extremely fortunate that the work hours suited my timetable and provided me with an opportunity to start building a network of contacts. It was recognised quickly that I had the ability to take on more responsibility and I was taken ‘off the road’ and became a National Transport Planner. In this role my line manager supported my development and supported my application to the DHL Graduate Programme in 2009.

The DHL graduate scheme is a structured development programme that combines classroom learning with experience of working in the business. Each graduate completes three different placements of six months in a variety of locations along with a further six residential classroom based sessions.

My first placement
My first six month placement was as a Transport Shift Manager on the Mothercare contract based in Daventry in Northamptonshire. I was very quickly given a great deal of responsibility and was tasked with ensuring that c.60 vehicles per shift were loaded and despatched on time to ensure deliveries arrived on time. I was also the first point of contact for any ad hoc issues that arose such as road traffic accidents, vehicle breakdowns and disciplinary issues.

Transport is a very fast paced and exciting environment to work in, no two days are ever the same and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I was able to develop my people management techniques and develop my technical knowledge of the rules and regulations of road haulage.

Placements undertaken on the scheme
Following Mothercare, my second placement was with International Supply Chain in a Business Development role. It was a very different role to that of a Transport Shift Manager, with the focus being on longer term strategic goals, rather than tactical day to day goals. This role gave me plenty of opportunity to travel both nationally and internationally to meet with other colleagues and target customers.

As a product, International Supply Chain is relatively new to DHL. My role was to identify markets around the world that would suit International Supply Chain to support growth. This was done through primary research, speaking directly to logistics directors from around the world to understand their requirements as well as some secondary research utilising specialist tools.

By the end of my six month placement I had worked with the Business Development Vice President to build a business case for International Supply Chain to invest significant effort and resources to enter the South African market place and drive growth within the region.

Leaving the programme early and joining the company permanently
My final placement on the graduate scheme was to be with our Technology Division, however I was offered a permanent role as Business Development Manager within the Fashion Division. The graduate team were very supportive and I left the programme early to take up this fantastic opportunity.

As a Business Development Manager I was responsible for delivering new business growth for DHL and I was immediately given the opportunity to prove my ability as the development lead on opportunities with Adidas and Regatta. As the lead on these opportunities I was responsible for coordinating an innovative solution and commercial proposition, negotiating with the customers to ensure that DHL was successful in winning the business.

Following on from these initial opportunities I worked with colleagues to set the sales strategy for the Fashion Division and identify our target accounts for 2011. I continued to have the opportunity to lead development activity, most notably with Primark.

Moving up the career ladder
Following a year and half with the Fashion Division, I was offered a position as Head of Product Development within a newly created area of DHL - Specialist Services. This division focuses on working with the Public Sector, Technology Customers, Airlines and City Logistics.

My role specifically is to lead divisional Business Development activity for the Public Sector and provide support the other areas on an ad hoc basis. Practically, this means that I am tasked with identifying opportunities to work with the Public Sector. Developing new and innovative logistics solutions that deliver value; and persuading Public Sector decision makers that DHL can help them to reduce their costs - not an easy task.

Looking back on the programme
DHL provides excellent opportunities for talented graduates to progress quickly. I can certainly recommend the graduate programme to anybody that is ambitious and wants to progress quickly to senior positions. The programme gave me the experience and knowledge of the logistics industry that is required in order to move up the career ladder. It supported the development of my management style and techniques and taught me my most important lesson - Never underestimate the importance of networking.


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