Ms. Carina Hall, Head of Industrial Projects (IP) at DHL, Denmark
Ms. Josefin Ahlgren-Spolander, Head of Industrial Projects (IP) at DHL, Finland & Sweden
For starters ladies, could you elaborate on the history of DHL which to the naked eye is known globally as a courier and express company but perhaps less as a specialist in industrial project cargo movements?
Carina: The business unit DHL Express has been at the top of the market for courier shipments for many years. It is Express who comes to your door with your packages, so I understand why this is our most recognizable service to people. However DHL is a very large company with 5 different divisions, so we are way more than just a courier company . Our largest division is DHL Global Forwarding, Freight (which Industrial Projects is part of). The official Industrial Projects organization within DHL was established in 2006, and we have been very focused on expanding both our geographical locations and our sector presence.
Josefin: Today we have dedicated project teams in more than 50 offices globally and are starting to be more active in promoting our capabilities and project services…like doing interviews for instance .
DHL is a global company and you have global reach. How do you go about working together if you have projects with sourcing from many different countries?
Carina: The priority is the customer’s needs. That is a foundation in our company culture, so it is natural for us to involve our colleagues from other countries and jointly work on the projects. We need to utilize each other’s local expertise, and thankfully, being connected is not difficult these days. Often, we will have a control tower function towards the customer, so they experience one point of contact, but behind the scenes, we are working as one team, globally.
Josefin: As Carina said, the network is the key to making a project a success, and we are very lucky to have skilled and knowledgeable colleagues around the world.
How do you view the fact that some shipowners work with intent to cut out the freight forwarder from the supply chain? Will they be successful, and how do you counter the shipowners influence—after all, they do own tonnage in some cases?
Carina: If they operate the needed trade and have the space, they can set their own price if they want and also do that against DHL. This is, of course, a problem if they are the sole operator. As a project forwarder, however, we usually need to play a broader game, and we approach customer interaction differently than most major shipowners. I believe our customers need, and will continue to need, both sides of the industry.
Josefin: Our customers need a partner who can always get them the best market rates regardless of one fleet’s capacity. They need someone who can provide several different solutions without having the objective to optimize their own capacity usage. In most cases, the forwarder still represents the broadest and most independent of solutions, and I believe several companies have found forwarders to be more reliable with regard to standing by their promises in recent years. That being said, I believe there is a place for both of us. In the long run, asset owners will not maximize their profits without the forwarder, and before anything else, they are a business. So I think we will need each other going forward, as we always have.
Why should a customer be using the services of DHL IP?
Carina: Firstly, for safety reasons. Industrial Projects are over 4 years LTI-free (lost time injury). Secondly, for the combination of specific project experts around the world and our global weight as DHL. The red and yellow logo does hold some benefit when we look at all our global activities, and we bring that back to our customers. It becomes a full service package, including the specific expertise needed for project execution.
Josefin: We have a great team of around 700 dedicated project forwarders around the world who are always up for the challenge of finding a solution to whatever our customers bring us. Safety first of course .
Globally, what is the headcount of DHL IP and in how many countries is IP active? Where is the global HQ of DHL IP?
Josefine: The global HQ is in the UK with global functions like HSE and engineering mainly in the UK, DE, and UAE. To-date, we are close to 700 specialists with dedicated IP offices in around 50 countries, and we continue to evaluate the needs for further dedicated locations.
Do you always cover project cargo shipments with your own bill of lading or is it case by case?
Carina: It can be case by case. However most of our customers expect DHL to take the full responsibility, and therefore, we mostly do our own bills.
Are you free to work with 3rd-party agents in countries, for example, where DHL is not present with IP themselves? In other words, you have freedom to focus on what is best for the project in question, right?
Carina: The priority remains the customer’s needs. We work with external parties in areas where that may be necessary.
Josefin: We do choose our partners very carefully and require them to be approved vendors by DHL. This ensures DHL quality all the way for the customer.
What do you like about shipping & logistics, and could both of you elaborate on what made you choose this career path?
Carina: I like the creativity of project logistics and the responsibility. Things become interesting when they require out of the box thinking and moving big items is just fun . A forwarder herself, my sister once advised me to “give forwarding a try” when I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Several years later, here I am. The career path for a forwarder can lead in many directions, which is also why I don’t think I will leave the industry.
Josefin: I started working in shipping in my late teens, and when finishing up my university studies, I met a certain Mr Drewsen in Finland who convinced me that project logistics was the only sensible choice … and on that path I am still and not regretting a single second of it, even if it might require some level of madness to keep enjoying it .
How would it be best for our readers to get in touch with you in Helsinki & Copenhagen?
Finland: +358 41 5019179 & Sweden: +46 (0)70 246 7301