Human Capital: As MD of FedEx Express Australasia, what do you expect from your HR team? What skills and traits do you value highly in that team?
Kim Garner: At FedEx, our people are the heart and soul of our business. This is why our founding People-Service-Profit (PSP) philosophy is based on the premise that if we take care of our people, they will take care of our customers, and that will take care of our profit.
This is why the HR team must be committed to fostering a strong people culture that helps our employees feel valued in the workplace.
The team must be advocates of the FedEx philosophy – to lead by example and promote activities that support the FedEx philosophy and environment.
We believe that our employees and the values they exhibit such as teamwork, determination and commitment are our biggest asset. It is their dedication to service excellence that gives us a competitive edge. I expect the HR team to exhibit these values so that they can inspire others to do the same.
HC: Based on your work experience, what do you think it takes to succeed in HR?
KG: From my experience, successful HR practitioners are people-focused. They must be advisors and experts on HR matters, providing innovative and valuable solutions and recommendations that are backed by facts rather than being expert administrators or ‘police officers’.
HC: What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?
KG: My advice is to stay updated not just on the trends in HR, but also how communications channels are evolving. This way you will be able to use the right channels of communications to reach your audience effectively when you start your HR career.
Also, as the world’s people and economies become more interconnected, it is important to develop a global perspective, so it’s important to gain exposure to different cultures and be sensitive to cultural norms.
HC: FedEx has picked up numerous accolades over the years for its HR/people initiatives – including an Australian HR Award for employer of choice (>1,000) – why do you think the company excels in this area?
KG: FedEx has consistently been recognised as an employer of choice in Australia, New Zealand, and globally for its people-first culture. The HR Award received last month is testament to FedEx consistency in creating an environment that makes FedEx such a great place to work for our employees.
The key to FedEx success as the world's largest express transportation company lies in its people. It is the commitment of FedEx to its People-Service-Profit (PSP) philosophy that is critical in making the company a great place to work.
Firstly, we encourage employees to excel and contribute. We do this by continuously looking at ways to ensure we provide the right environment for our employees to deliver the best service to our customers and be rewarded accordingly.
Secondly, we believe in fostering a strong people culture and creating a supportive workplace culture that includes talent development. We have a strong focus in developing talent from within. In fact, 90% of the current FedEx Australian management team and more than 75% of the directors and managers in Asia Pacific have been promoted from within.
Thirdly, we are a proud supporter of diversity, gender equality, mature workers and advancement of women in the workplace.
HC: How important is it to ‘build your own’ talent and what benefits do you think that brings to the company?
KG: At FedEx we recognise that the personal and professional development of our employees is tied to our own growth and development as a company. FedEx has a long-standing practice of developing talent from within. We believe the long tenure of our team members and excellent industry reputation are both strong indicators that our culture is an integral part of our success.
HC: What do you consider to be your biggest career achievement to date?
KG: I’ve always enjoyed the area of change management, looking into business processes and systems, and optimising the way they work. This often involves working with people to understand the present, and then helping them find new and better ways. It can be quite challenging to get people to find new ways and to change, but also very rewarding at the same time to see them work through this process and come out the other end with their business and themselves better off.
Between 2007 and 2010, I worked simultaneously across seven Southeast Asian countries to implement a major operations project to upgrade courier, sortation, airport ramp and customer clearance operations. This process involved working closely with different cultures, various levels of management and frontline employees, introducing change, and then monitoring, coaching, consulting, and intervening where necessary to ensure full and successful implementation was achieved. The project met corporate expectations and achieved significant improvements in all countries.
HC: What business challenges are top of your agenda for 2012 and beyond?
KG: At FedEx, we connect the world in responsible and resourceful ways. Our long-term goals and progress in environment and efficiency are to reduce CO2 aircraft emissions by 20% for FedEx Express aircraft, and improve fuel efficiency by 20% for the FedEx Express vehicle fleet by 2020. We have achieved an 8.33% reduction-to-date against the 2005 baseline for aircraft emissions and since 2005, globally we have improved vehicle efficiency by 14.1% surpassing the halfway milestone towards our 2020 goal.
One of the key business challenges is committing our business to high, measurable standards and applying our innovative spirit to make our business and the world more sustainable and efficient.
Another business challenge is to ensure that we continue to provide the most flexible and convenient express transportation services for our customers in Australia. To achieve that, FedEx will continue to invest in our employees, listen to our customers, expand our services, and provide Australian companies greater access to global markets, especially emerging markets.
HC: Describe yourself in a few key words?
KG: I would describe myself as determined, but understanding individual who is always striving for the best possible results rather than meeting minimum criteria. I am always on the lookout for the next frontier and enjoy the challenge of overcoming it. I enjoy interacting with employees from across the different functions within FedEx, as well as meeting with customers and helping them with business solutions.
HC: Do you have any role models professionally or personally?
KG: My parents were my first role models. They ran their own transportation business and as a child and teenager, I learnt the values and benefits of a good work ethic, hiring good people, and then looking after them. Throughout my career, I have remembered what I learnt from my parents. I have also tried to adopt the good points I have seen in my various mentors, managers and peers along the way.
Sport has also influenced me tremendously. Having played team sports most of my life, I’ve learnt that you have to be determined, train hard and be effective in a team environment. If things don’t go your way, you have to work out a better way of making your next game a winner – success doesn’t come easily.