Transporting spare parts and wedding gowns

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - August 19, 2015 - 10:00am

Day and night, as we sleep or eat, goods are delivered  to much of the world (where there are no wars and conflict areas) — from tons of spare parts of planes and ships, cars, motorcycles, electronic chips, appliances, furniture, cosmetics, medical equipment, clothes, birthday presents, wedding gowns, and what have you. The business of delivering goods globally is referred to as the logistics industry.

I met Nurhayati “Yati” Abdullah,  the DHL Express Philippines country manager,  at a luncheon, and over sukiyaki, sushi and sashimi, she explained the workings of DHL, a global company present in over 220 countries and territories. With a workforce exceeding 325,000 employees DHL provides solutions for an almost infinite number of logistics needs, she said.

According to Yati, DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry. Its family of divisions offers “an unrivalled portfolio of logistics services” ranging from national and international parcel delivery, international express, road, air and ocean transport,  to industrial supply chain management. It thus connects “people and businesses secretly and reliably, enabling global trade flows.”

DHL, according to Yati, is part of the  Deutsche Post DHL Group, which generated revenues of more than 56 billion euros in 2014.

DHL entered the Philippine scene in 1971. Its services encompasses three divisions:  Express,  Global Forwarding, and Freight and  Supply Chain. Yati said her division  handles lightweight shipment (for example samples for small and medium industries) and documents. Global Forwarding takes care of heavy loads, and  Supply Chain Warehousing has control over storage of goods received and delivered. These divisions have their respective country managers in Manila.

Yati said DHL Philippines transports  daily 40 tons of goods on a DHL plane from Manila to Hong Kong, and on the same day, brings in the same volume for distribution in the Philippines.  The biggest market is China, where DHL is found in all of its provinces. Deliveries intended for different places in the Philippines are forwarded by DHL in Manila to carefully selected local courier services.

Yati assumed her post as DHL Express Philippines country manager in  April 2012. She was previously the Philippines National Global Multinational Companies (GMNC) manager from 2005 to 2007. She also brings with her solid commercial, network and management experience, having worked in Malaysia, Thailand/Indochina and Singapore.

Prior to  assuming the country manager role, she was the vice president for marketing and sales for South East Asia. Company literature describes her as being  credited for “ successfully developing a key strategic framework that not only allows countries  to chart their growth plans and milestones but helps the country teams identify business opportunities across varied segments and industries.” She also served  as director of sales for Thailand and Indochina at DHL Express Thailand.

It’s likely her being a woman that is credited for gender-equity programs in the Manila office. To begin with, aside from her, three of eight top executive positions (that of CFO, customer services and marketing) are held by women. She had a gym built for the physical well-being of employees, an informal cooking contest, and coffee on all three floors of its rented  office building.

In keeping with DHL worldwide’s  Women’s Network, Manila holds forums at which celebrities speak about encouraging women’s leadership role and confidence-building. Under Manila’s corporate social responsibility programs, Go Help has celebrities like Sen. Bam Aquino and beauty queen Venus Raj read to public school children; Yati herself taught English before Grade 3 pupils at the Nueve de Pebrero school in Mandaluyong. Go Help has employees volunteering services and books to orphanages, Ricky Reyes’ center for children with cancer, and Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko.  Under Go Help, office employees, applying learnings from DHL’s global program called Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD), helped unload bolts of donated goods from airplanes landing at the Cebu airport and took them to victims in selected areas. go green coordinates with Daang Bantayan of Cebu and Gawad Kalinga in helping  women  make peanut butter and  do tree-planting.

Yati took up  business administration at Taylor’s College in Penang, Malaysia. Aged 42, Yati is charming, and feeling comfortable  about being single as that gives her time to enjoy life. “I love people, I feel very fulfilled.”

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One good thing deserves another. The 83.7-km North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) redefined the way we view tollways when it began commercial operations in early 2005 — to connect Balintawak with Clark. 

Then came the 93.77-km Subic Clark Expressway (SCTEX) which was opened to the public in early 2008. These two developments have treated motorists to twin expressways that have revolutionized travel to Central and North Luzon.

Still, the NLEX, under the concession and management of the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) — a  member of the Metro Pacific Tollways of the MVP Group of Companies — holds the distinction of being the most modern, most equipped and most technologically advanced tollway.

All of us motorists were almost euphoric when we got the news that MNTC is taking over the SCTEX by virtue of a Business Operating Agreement (BOA). It means that the MNTC brand of management and technological superiority would also be brought to bear on the facilities and operations of SCTEX!

We waited and watched as the dream team of two expressways unfolded before our eyes! The latest treat was a radiant picture of Philipine President Noynoy Aquino and French President Francois Hollande who witnessed the signing of the MOA between MNTC chairman Manny V. Pangilinan and BCDA president Arnel Casanova in February 2015.

We gathered that MPTC shelled out P3 billion to seal the deal and show MPTC’s ernestness to get the project moving.

And then there was silence. And then there seems to be no motion on the part of government.

Meanwhile, the SCTEX is no longer the spic n’ span expressway, gleaming under the sun. Aside from being in a state of disrepair, it is also a portrait of an “unfulfilled promise”. Why?  MNTC is all about ready to install new systems and facilities, not to mention running the SCTEX with MNTC’s brand of service — efficient, modern and caring. MNTC is raring to make the promise of a modern SCTEX come true.

I gathered that MNTC’s operations and maintenance crew are ready to implement heavy maintenance, to work on pavements due for overlay. MNTC will also improve the traffic management system: upgrade signages, install CCTVs, put up variable message signs – and set up a traffic control room, the pride of NLEX!

More treat more motorists are construction of new rest areas along the tollways, aside from clearing and repairing slopes and embankments.

So what’s keeping the government from implementing what has long been overdue? Everything is in place, the people are raring to go – only a presidential nudge on the concerned department (DOTC again?) or the Toll Regulatory Board will make that long awaited dream a reality!

My humble suggestion, Mr. President: Just express your wish for a unified NLEX-SCTEX. Your wish is your subordinates’command!

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