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Published on Friday, 21 Sep 2012
With Hong Kong a management centre for global supply chains, employment opportunities in logistics are flourishing.
Photo: Bloomberg
Frank Appel

Hong Kong has long built itself as an industry innovator and is famous for its ability to reinvent itself according to changing demands. Once a supplier of the world's goods, it now plays a key role in getting them from manufacturing bases in China to global markets.

The logistics industry has developed into one of the city's most valuable and provides almost a quarter of Hong Kong's employment. Some of the globe's most established logistics companies are based here, along with some of its most forward-thinking.

With the industry rapidly changing - not just in Hong Kong - the emphasis is on finding management and management-track employees who can look at issues from a new perspective.

The last decade or so has seen Hong Kong develop from a hub-port city into a management centre for global supply chains, making it a good place to pursue and develop a career. Experience in the logistics industry is also increasingly being viewed with approval in other industries.

"The skills learned that can be applied elsewhere are various," says Michael Benhamou, assistant general manager for sales and marketing at Oriental Logistics.

"Logistics operators are a critical part of supply-chain management. Time is of the essence and the commitments made to customers at the start of every project are very important for mutual success. These skills could apply to many industries."

Hans Mahncke, managing director at Rhenus Logistics Asia-Pacific, says the skill sets developed in the logistics industry are translatable to other management roles in a variety of settings.

"Since the logistics industry gets involved with almost every other industry, we gain good insight into the requirements of other parties and can use such practical experience in many different fields," he says.

Logistics managers are also well-versed in accounts, business operations and warehouse systems, all crucial skill sets which can be directly related to higher corporate roles and career possibilities.

Certain personalities tend to thrive in management roles and those who exhibit analytical skills, embrace innovation and are willing to accept challenges are particularly prized.

These challenges are wide-ranging. "Logistics requirements become more sophisticated over time so the range of services is growing," Benhamou says.

As e-commerce develops worldwide, many logistics companies are also providing related services.

Justine Liu, assistant general manager of human resources at Yusen Logisitics, says the healthcare industry is another growing sector, as is "anything related to ageing". She agrees that "innovation is a way to succeed in the industry".

Increasing consumer awareness of environmental issues has led to an improvement in green transportation. Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL, says that this is one area where the "logistics industry will be a facilitator of change".

"[The industry] is a significant source of carbon emissions. It can already achieve significant carbon-reduction results today by optimising distribution networks, using the right modes of transportation and efficiently managing load capacities and routes," he says.

The changing face of world markets is also presenting new challenges and opportunities to improve upon methods.

"Manufacturers in China have upgraded over the last 30 years and provide high-quality tech products in greater numbers," says Mahncke. "Hong Kong is gaining from such growth, as it is an ideal staging post for shipments to and from China."

Emerging markets are creating new demand for logistics and represent how the industry will be defined for decades to come.

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