Delivering success: Interview with Henry Fares, head of HR MENA at DHL Express

Written by
Changeboard Team

12 Oct 2016

12 Oct 2016 • by Changeboard Team


Founded in 1969 to deliver documents between San Francisco and Honolulu, DHL Express expanded its service globally in the 1970s. It became the logistics industry’s first operator in the Middle East more than 35 years ago. Today it has a presence in 19 countries across the MENA region, with more than 4,500 employees across the Middle East.

Q: What is DHLs mission?

Our vision is to be ‘the logistics company for the world’ – the first choice for shipping needs and as an employer and investor. Our mission statement has four main elements: to simplify the lives of our customers, to make our customers, employees and investors more successful, to make a positive contribution to the world and to always demonstrate respect when achieving results.

We add value by engaging employees and nurturing their talents and have created corporate responsibility programs under the motto ‘Living Responsibility.’

Q: How do you motivate employees?

A: We measure progress based on values, not just profits. Our code of conduct is an integral part of our corporate culture and is closely aligned with the guiding principle of our Strategy 2015: ‘respect & results’, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Global Compact and the International Labour Organization conventions. Through focus groups and town hall meetings, we develop a specific action plan to leverage the good behaviour in our culture and correct the unaligned areas.

Q: How do you ensure your leaders operate with these values in mind?

A: Every motivational book confirms that carrots are better motivational tools than sticks. However, even carrots have limits, especially in challenging economic and social environments. This is where great leaders stand out. DHL leaders engage employees through developing and empowering them, promoting integrity and building trust.

Q: What L&D strategies do you have in place?

A: We have invested in one of the world’s largest staff training programs, through which over 100,000 DHL employees have qualified as Certified International Specialists.

Q: What results have you seen?

CIS has reformed and reshaped our company culture, empowered employees to be part of the growth story and helped them develop skills that they can build on. DHL Express delivered a record EBIT contribution of E1.1 billion to Deutsche Post DHL’s global results in 2012. We believe we would not have achieved this without CIS.

Q: Why is it important to develop employees?

A: Organizations cannot learn unless their people do. We encourage employees to broaden their horizons and fulfill their potential.

On our e-learning platform, employees can take part in professional development programs that include language classes, soft skills training and management methods. We have customized learning modules on our group programs ‘First Choice’ and ‘GoGreen’ as well as our global road safety initiative for employees.

Two years ago, we introduced the MENA Talent Program to help recruit young talent and boost the number of local employees in leadership positions. The insights gained will be integrated into the group’s strategic hiring practices in the MENA region.

Q: What other initiatives do you have in place?

A: Our GoGreen, GoHelp and GoTeach programs help realize our CR strategy. The aim of GoGreen is to minimize the impact of our business on the environment and improve carbon efficiency. This is linked to reducing all emissions and use of fossil fuels.

Through GoHelp, we support the international humanitarian community through our global partnership with the United Nations. The MENA disaster response team has been organizing training for volunteers since 2007. More than 120 volunteers have been trained by a team of nine DRT facilitators, with about 40 volunteers deployed on three missions around the region.

GoTeach reflects our commitment to educational equality. Deutsche Post DHL partnered with SOS Children’s Villages in 2010 to offer young people access to proper education and strengthen their employability.

Morocco and Jordan have been chosen to engage in the local SOS Children’s Village programs this year, with the aim of rolling out in all other MENA countries next year.

In 2010 we founded the UPstairs scholarship program to help fund the schooling and further education of our employees’ children. More than 140 scholarships have already been awarded in 13 MENA countries. Globally, by 2014 we will have increased the number of scholarships across the group to 1,000.

Q: How do you recognise success?

A: The Employee of the Year event is our flagship reward and recognition program. We want to use it to further fuel the values of CIS.

Q: How can HR directors in the region contribute effectively to organizational success?

My top tips are:

  • Build an in-depth understanding of your organization’s goals and objectives. The vision, mission and the business plan provide the basis for determining necessary financial resources and workforce needs.
  • Find the right balance for bureaucracy. Unnecessary red tape is a sign of ineffective leadership and it kills a high performance. Too little bureaucracy or lack of process and procedures will create disorder, lack of control and inconsistency.
  • Instill leadership that drives the business by hiring, developing and empowering the right talent to perform at high aptitude and be engaged while minimizing energy wasted on bureaucratic distractions.
  • Create a learning culture. All managers should integrate L&D activities in their daily routine as an essential component of the way they do business.